Editor for Testing AsciiMath Equations

This simple web component allows typing AsciiMath equations and previews the generated MathML elements.

We inherit the component from base class provided by LiTScript. It attaches the stylesheet we specify to the component.

import * as ce from 'litscript/lib/src/custom-elem'
import { asciiToMathML } from '.'
import "./asciimath-editor.css"

Component Structure

The structure of our component is defined in the label and content properties. Label is separate, because we must be able to change it's contents later or.

export class AsciiMathEditor extends ce.StyledElement {
    private label = /*html*/`
            <span class="label">Preview</span>
    private content = /*html*/`
        <textarea name="input" id="input" rows="5" spellcheck="false"
            placeholder="Enter AsciiMath Equation">
        <div id="preview">


We call the base constructor with the style sheet name we want to load. The .css extension is omitted.

    constructor() {


Get the input element inside the component.

    private get input(): HTMLTextAreaElement {
        return this.shadowRoot!.getElementById("input") as HTMLTextAreaElement

Get the preview div inside the component.

    private get preview(): HTMLDivElement {
        return this.shadowRoot!.getElementById("preview") as HTMLDivElement


When the contents of the input element changes we update the preview in the method below. If there is no value for the input, we use the default preview contents. If we have a value, we:

  1. convert it to MathML by calling asciiToMathML function,
  2. set it as the inner content of the preview div,
  3. format the contents of the div by calling the format method, and
  4. add a <details> tag that shows the MathML verbatim inside the preview div.
    private update() {
        let value = this.input.value
        let preview = this.preview
        if (!value)
            value = this.label
        else {
            value = asciiToMathML(value)
            preview.innerHTML = value
            this.format(preview, 0)
            value = /*html*/`
                    <summary>Show MathML</summary>
        preview.innerHTML = value 

Component Connected

The methdod below is called when the component is added to the DOM. It initializes the component and assigns classes to component root element to make its styling easier.

Then we read the inital value from the corresponding attribute, if it exist, assign it to the input element and update the preview. Last, we hook the input's onchange event to the update method.

    protected connect() {
        this.body.innerHTML = this.content
        this.body.className = "body"
        this.body.append(this.input, this.preview)
        let initial = this.getAttribute("value")
        if (initial) {
            this.input.value = initial
        this.input.onchange = () => this.update()

Formatting MathML

The MathML produced by our converter does not contain any extra whitespace or formatting. This is intentional, to keep the result size as small as possible. However, when presenting the MathML to the user, it would be nice to have it correctly intended. This little helper copied from Stack Overflow does that. It adds line breaks and spaces before elements depeneding on how deep they are in the DOM tree. So, the value of the innerHTML property looks nicer when shown in the preview.

    private format(node: Element, level: number): Element {
        let indentBefore = new Array(level++ + 1).join('  '),
            indentAfter  = new Array(level - 1).join('  '),
            textNode: Text
        for (var i = 0; i < node.children.length; i++) {
            textNode = document.createTextNode('\n' + indentBefore);
            node.insertBefore(textNode, node.children[i])
            this.format(node.children[i], level)
            if (node.lastElementChild == node.children[i]) {
                textNode = document.createTextNode('\n' + indentAfter)
        return node

Defining Custom Element

The last thing to do is to register our component, and the custom element name that we give to it.

customElements.define('asciimath-editor', AsciiMathEditor)