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Re: Macintosh Mathematica Interface

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  • Subject: [mg11899] Re: Macintosh Mathematica Interface
  • From: "P.J. Hinton" <>
  • Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 00:33:03 -0400
  • Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
  • References: <6g280a$>

On 3 Apr 1998, D. Wright wrote:

> For many years I used Mathematica only on XWindows machines and I always
> interacted directly with the kernal (no notebook).  Graphics output was
> rendered by a (presumably eps) intrepreter in an XWindow that would pop
> up for each graphic.  I really liked this interface.
> Now I use Mathematica 3.0 on my Mac and the only way I can get graphic
> output is to use the ridiculously bloated notebook interface.  I am a
> firm believer in the philosophy that text editing should be left to
> Emacs, typesetting to TeX, and mathematics to Mathematica.  I find the
> notebook interface an annoying example of the Microsoft philosophy:
> "our  application should do EVERYTHING", as well as being slow.  Just
> imagine all the quirks and key commands you have to keep straight when
> every compiler, every email client, every typesetting engine, and now
> every mathematics program has its own WISIWYG editor.  Ugh!
> So... how to I get back my beloved XWindows-style behavior on my Mac? 
> Has anyone managed to set this up?  It seems to me not in principle
> impossible, since the graphics rendering on Mathematica for the Mac is
> already not being done by the notebook application directly, but by the
> psrender application running in the background.  Any ideas?

The feature of producing graphics in a separate window under Unix is
handled by an external program called motifps.  It comes with the Unix
Mathematica distribution.  It is capable of rendering abbreviated
Mathematica PostScript, not full-blown Encapsulated PostScript as you

The ability to generate plots like this exists only in Unix.  Under
Macintosh and Windows, an ASCII-character terminal graphics package is
used to render the graphics directly in a shell window.

The psrender program to which you referred is not responsible for
rendering graphics in the notebook front end.  The psrender program is
a MathLink executable which converts abbreviated Mathematica PostScript
into other (mostly bitmap) formats.  It gets launched when you invoke a
Display[ ] command with a third, non "MPS" argument.  The front end has
its own PostScript interpreter, which understands abbreviated
Mathematica PostScript.

To create a situation similar to what you had under Unix, you would
probably need to create an installable MathLink program which would
send the Mathematica PostScript from a graphic to psrender to convert
it into another graphic format.  The output from psrender would then
have to be fed to an outside graphics rendering program. 

Another (more expensive) alternative is to get a Macintosh X server and
run the Mathematica kernel from a shell on a Unix machine with the
DISPLAY environment variable set to point to your Macintosh.  The
motifps windows would then be displayed on your Macintosh desktop.

P.J. Hinton
Mathematica Programming Group  Wolfram
Research, Inc.        
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone.

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