There are various important features that Mathematica can offer to a web site, including computation, an interactive programming language, connectivity, the Mathematica front end, and enhanced support for MathML.
Mathematica contains a large collection of functions for computing in many areas, such as numerics, symbolics, and graphics. webMathematica makes all of this functionality available over the web.
Many web technologies, so powerful in many areas, are not well suited to scientific computation; it is simply not their main focus. Mathematica, on the other hand, is very suitable for scientific computation, and can provide this on the web.
1.2.2 Interactive Programming Language
Mathematica contains a high-level, interactive, functional programming language. It lends itself to rapid prototyping but can scale up to large intensive computations. These are also advantages for web content generation, since large sites can be developed with less programmer effort.
Mathematica connects readily to external services, which may be provided by languages such as Java, C, Fortran, or Perl. These services can provide a data source for computations and also take the results from Mathematica. It is particularly easy to connect to Java via J/Link, a toolkit for integrating Java into Mathematica. More information on J/Link can be found at http://www.wolfram.com/solutions/mathlink/jlink.
1.2.4 The Mathematica Front End
The Mathematica notebook user interface (front end) has long provided the premium mechanism for working with the Mathematica kernel. Now, webMathematica provides an alternative interface via the web. Even in a web environment, the front end is extremely useful. It is used to typeset mathematics and render two- and three-dimensional graphical objects into images. In addition, the front end can generate notebook documents on the server to send to the client.
1.2.5 Mathematical Typesetting and MathML
Mathematica is a premium system for interactive mathematical typesetting. It is also a powerful system for working with MathML, which is designed to allow the use and reuse of mathematical and scientific content on the web and by other applications. One of the improvements in Mathematica 4.2 is its enhanced MathML functionality. These features are a valuable component of webMathematica, which works well with the increasing number of tools that are available for MathML.