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MathGroup Archive 1998

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Re: Formatting posts



> This is a plea to those who paste bits of code from notebooks into
> e-mail posts on the mathuser group.  
> 
> #1 -- Don't expect people to decipher the text version of 2-D code such
> as:
> 
> \!\(\[Integral]\(x\^\(2\ \)\) \[DifferentialD]x\)
> 
> Instead, select your 2-D cell, change the format to InputForm, right
> click on your selection and choose "copy as... text.  Then paste it
> into the email which will give a much more readable:
> 
> Integrate[x^2, x].
> 
> The two bits of code above are the same.  Guess which one will get read!

I am in mild agreement with you on this point.  If the essence of the
problem can be expressed in human-readable form, it saves an extra step
when trying to understand the question.

> #2 -- Do not paste the text of a notebook into an email message.  Many
> of us have been unable to ever get one of those actually recognized as
> a notebook by following the directions.  Instead, compress your
> notebook into a pkzip compatible self-extracting executable and attach
> it to your message.  For short notebooks, append the file itself to the
> email message as long as your email program knows how to keep it as a
> separate file.

I would like to express a strongly dissenting opinion on this point.

If everyone used the same type of computer and was familiar with the
same compression/decompression tools, then sending things in a
compressed format might be entirely practical.  When sending messages
to a broad audience, however, this is not a valid assumption. 

Here in the technical support group at Wolfram Research we have quite a
lot of experience with compressed files.  We get compressed files all
the time, and have figured out how to recognize and decode dozens of
different file compression formats.  This is not always easy, though,
and I cannot recommend burdening anyone else with this task.

I use several different computers, each with a different collection of
decompression tools.  Not all of them have pkunzip, so if I get a
Mathematica notebook in that format -- or any other compressed format
-- I may or may not be able to read it.

Mathematica notebooks are stored as plain ascii files.  This is a highly
portable format, which is why notebooks are stored that way. I've never
had any significant trouble opening a Mathematica notebook, and would
be disappointed if people starting exchanging notebooks in some
compressed format. 

Dave Withoff
Wolfram Research



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