The Story Behind The Math Worksheet Site

In 1995 when my oldest daughter started to learn addition, I wanted a way to drill her on her addition facts. I decided to create addition worksheets with all of the 1's on one worksheet, all of the 2's on one worksheet, etc. I would time her on a particular addition worksheet every day--starting with the 1's--until she could do that worksheet in less than 30 seconds. Then she would move on to the next one.

To simplify the task of making the worksheets, I created a macro in WORD 6.0 that would create them automatically. Since this macro created my daughter's math work, I named the macro MathWork.

As long as I was writing the macro, I made it create worksheets for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The result was that my two oldest daughters started printing their own math assignments every day.

My wife told our home school support group about the macro, and everybody wanted a copy. The problem was that only people with WORD 6.0 could use it. I wanted a way to make the functionality of the macro available to anybody. I thought about creating the worksheets over the internet, but I had no control over fonts over the internet. Without being able to use a specific font, I couldn't control the page layout.

When both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer began to support style sheets, I had enough control over fonts to control the layout of the page. By building the math worksheets dynamically using JavaScript, I could make the macro available to anybody with a 4.0 browser. The original JavaScript generated HTML worksheets were posted to the internet under the name "MathWork."

A subsequent update of this site took advantage of newer style sheet specifications and allowed each worksheet to have an accompanying answer key. Since that update, the worksheets have been generated using Perl scripts on the server.

HTML is nice, but it was never intended for precise layout on the printed page. Creating the worksheets in HTML involved some compromises, and the results didn't always work for everyone, particularly people accessing the site on a Mac. My solution to the problem was to revise the Perl scripts so that the worksheets could be delivered in PDF format.

The conversion to PDF format was a huge project. I couldn't justify the time commitment unless the site could generate at least a modest income. I also did not want to remove the free worksheets that so many people were relying on.

The compromise I decided on was to keep the free worksheets on the site while charging a modest fee for access to the PDF format worksheets. After the conversion to PDF format, I began adding new PDF format worksheets to the site on a regular basis.

The name of the site has since been changed to The Math Worksheet Site to clarify its purpose.

Traffic to this site has grown so fast that I had to upgrade my hosting service three times in one year. By September of 2006 the site was receiving so much traffic that my web host had to move the site to a semi-dedicated server. In October of 2006 the site was moved to a virtual private server.

I have been both surprised and pleased with the popularity of this site. Several hundred other sites link to The Math Worksheet Site. It is the number 4 ranked site on Google for the keywords "math worksheets." I have received subscriptions from 19 different countries.

Scott Bryce
October 2006