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sharing packages between multiple installations

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg46359] sharing packages between multiple installations
  • From: pdickof at (Peter Dickof)
  • Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:00:02 -0500 (EST)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Configuration: We have multiple Windows machines with separate
single-machine V5.0.1.0 Mathematica licenses connected to a network.
Each machine has mathematica installed on its C-drive as usual. 

Intent: We wish to share some packages that we have written by storing
them on a network drive available to all these machines. That way we
don't have to copy (and recopy and worry about version changes, etc
etc) to everyone's local drive.

I have found the mathematica symbols $AddOnsDirectory and
$UserAddOnsDirectory (They don't appear in the Help browser index!) by
looking at the help browser here:
"Add-Ons&Links->Standard Packages->Appendix: How
Mathematica)->AutoLoading Packages" and then finding the section
"autoload directory". All I need to do is define (after unprotecting)
the $AddOnsDirectory to point to the right place (L:/mystuff), and
everything seems to work just the way I want. All the WRI stuff seems
to work in its original location on the C: drive, and so does ours in
its location on L:. I plan to put this in the initialization for every

1) How do we make the help notebooks we have written for our packages
available in the help browser in a similar way? I set up
BrowserCategories, etc etc which worked on the C drive in the
appropriate location under Version 4.0, the question relates only to
keeping them on the network drive and separate from the WRI
distribution. The documentation says "You should place all new
material that you want to add to the Help Browser in the
Documentation/English/AddOns directory, which is specifically intended
for the purpose.", but I want our help kept in a central location just
like our code is (and preferable in the same directory with the code
rather than split up the way WRI does it). Where/what symbol can I use
to add our stuff to the search path used by "rebuild help index"?

2) Why is the ($AddOnsDirectory) so well hidden in the documentation?
Is this not intended to be used in this way? There is also a
$BaseDirectory and $UserBaseDirectory (see Appendix A.8.2, help
browser "Mathematica Book->Mathematica reference guide->Mathematica
File Organization->Loadable Files"), but that seems to require placing
WRI stuff on the network drive too, which seems a) unnecessary b)  a
possible violation of our license and c) to mix up the WRI stuff and
our own stuff. I would prefer to keep our work completely separate
from the baseline installation.

3) The help file section "AutoLoading Packages" identified under
"progress" has a hyperlink to Appendix A.8.7 but the link does
nothing! Is there an Appendix A.8.7? How do I find it?

Thanks in advance!

Peter Dickof

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