Mathematics tools FAQ
This FAQ is a recent creation and is still building. If you have a relevant question and answer, please add it to the bottom.
Does Moodle have any Math tools in it as native?
It certainly does, and if you look at the Using TeX Notation pages, they will give you a good start on how you can, quickly and fairly easily, build a small body of knowledge that will allow you to move on to bigger and better things.
What kind of Maths tools can Moodle use or adapt?
There are two ways to use maths tools in Moodle. 1. Plugins that integrate new functionality into Moodle. The list of Plugins for Moodle include among others Dragmath, MathJAX or WIRIS. 2. Many external programs that can be used to generate content that is easily imported to Moodle. External programs include MathType which works with several Moodle Plugins.
Will these tools be accessible in Moodle 2.0?
Yes, there has already been a number of successful tests using DragMath, MathJax and Geogebra tools in Moodle 2.0. As well, the TeX Notation filter works the same in v1.9.x and v2.0. It appears that anything written in Moodle v1.9.x will adapt easily for Moodle 2.0.
Does Moodle have an interactive whiteboard feature?
Not as such, but it seems both the interactive and content is controlled by the whiteboard. You can use an interactive whiteboard to display Moodle, but unless you incorporate screen grabs from the Moodle into the whiteboard software, Moodle probably will not work as a genuine PHP App. Having said that, it is possible that at some stage in the future, a plugin for either, or even both, may be developed.
I am using Windows Server 2003 and am trying to get the TeX filter to work.
There are often three issues here, the first is the way in which Windows assigns permissions. You need to give write permissions to I_USER (or IIS_USER - all those people who use moodledata through internet) on moodledata folders and subfolders like D:\moodledata/filter/tex/ - and executable files need executable permissions.
It is also possible that what ever permissions you give to your files, Windows may permit running executable files on folders that are placed to system folders like c:\program files - I have seen this happen in Windows Vista and Windows 7 so it's probably true also in Windows Server 2003. If you install MikTex or TexLive for example to C:\Miktex (Texlive) or D:\Miktex (Texlive) and GhostScript and Imagemagick the same drive, such problems should not exist.
Sometimes you may need to delete old (Miktex) install folders from system (environment) variable PATH or add the correct folder to PATH if the install script has not done it automatically. Windows will not find the right files from the correct folder without the PATH being correct. (The TexLive installer scripts usually makes this automatic, but MikTeX needs be done manually.)
Finally, PHP settings may also prevent running of executable files - in the php.ini file look for the field "disable_functions", it should be empty and check the other programs security measures (in programs and scripts themselves) they should control running "non secure" commands like exec() or system(), not prevent them.
We need to install Latex. Will all our current equations with the $$ tokens still work?
The original TeX program written by Don Knuth used the $$ tokens to denote TeX. TeX has grown and evolved into a number of different versions, which have had further developments. Most TeX And LaTeX still support the $$ token, but it is usually undocumented. This is where a test Moodle comes in handy - installing a LaTeX into a test environment then checking the result will answer the question of which LaTeX will accept the $$ token. Be careful here, some newer versions of LaTeX use delimiters, not tokens, to denote TeX sequences.
OK, what is the difference between a token and a delimiter?
In TeX tokens are symbols used to denote a TeX command or control sequence. These can be $$ used in the native Tex Notation filter and supported by many versions of TeX and LaTeX, but they can also be \[ \] or any variation of any number of other symbols. A delimiter is what the LaTeX rendered in these pages uses. Moodle Docs went over to LiveTeX a little while ago, and now use the <math> </math> delimiter, much the same as html commands use, instead it has only one command, that of <math> </math>.