Re: Re: Mathematica Notebook Organiztion

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg56895] Re: [mg56859] Re: Mathematica Notebook Organiztion*From*: "David Park" <djmp at earthlink.net>*Date*: Mon, 9 May 2005 01:46:29 -0400 (EDT)*Sender*: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

Tony, With your experience and knowledge, I think what you write has to be taken seriously. But my question is: What other document can meld text, interactive calculations, graphics and animations? That's why I think CAS notebooks are the ideal medium for technical communication. I would much prefer to do all these things in one program. I don't see how it is easier to have to master three or four different applications. Furthermore, Mathematica notebooks can be kept relatively short because the output cells can be omitted. Readers, if they have Mathematica, can regenerate the cells. If one uses pdf documents, say, then there is no calculational interaction. All the graphics and output cells must be included and these take a lot of space. I've been told that the physics archive objects if the files are too long. (Length of files is important to me because I don't have broadband yet.) Communicating with people through Mathematica notebooks is pure heaven for me. The problem is that this is not the universal standard. Many people don't have Mathematica or dislike it. I don't see yet that Mathematica web pages are a good method, and the ones that I have seen so far are not interactive. (Perhaps I don't know how to use them yet. Can you copy them and paste directly into a private Mathematica notebook?) In the technical world there are probably going to be huge battles in trying to establish a standard. Maybe it will never get sorted out to the complete convenience of users. In the meantime, I hope WRI will keep working on the notebook interface and make it better and more intuitive as a method of creating interactive technical documents. David Park djmp at earthlink.net http://home.earthlink.net/~djmp/ From: AES [mailto:siegman at stanford.edu] To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net I don't claim to be a "guru" on any of this, but I do claim to have a very large amount of ordinary user experience (multiple decades of experience) with (a) markup systems for presentation of technical material (books, reports, class notes, seminar slides), and (b) software for extensive numerical and symbolic computation and preparation of graphics. Based on this long experience, when I read about ". . .the same markup language that describes text layout and formatting [being] the language [that is ] used to [do calculations, create graphics, and] execute (inter)active content . . " count me as skeptical -- VERY skeptical. This is a very BAD idea, that will inevitably cause much more damage than the dubious and limited benefits it may produce. Basically, I'd argue that attempting to combine both of these quite different functions into a single language or package and a single user interface is an absolute guarantee that the language and the system and the interface will all become so complex, so convoluted, so hard to learn and use and remember between uses, that ordinary users (meaning, e.g., ordinary working engineering and science professionals) will abandon such a system for simpler individual tools with easily interchangable file formats which will enable them perform these two separate functions separately, much more easily, with much less of a learning curve, and with enormously less aggravation. I think this concept of having such a single, universal language keeps emerging (mostly among "computer types"?) because it poses real and difficult and very interesting intellectual challenges to computer types just to accomplish this -- and that's fine; intellectual challenges are what creative people live for, and no one can blame or criticize computer types for being challenged by these goals. The problem is, the *only* advantage of such a unified tool *for the user*, so far as I can see, is that you only have to double-click on one icon to start if up; and the difficulties it then produces for ordinary users are immense and unending. I won't attempt to list at this point all the different ways these difficulties arise (inherently, and unavoidably) in such a system; but if this debate continues I may get motivated to respond with such a list. I love Mathematica, I love TeX, I'm very fond of Acrobat and Illustrator and BBEdit and . . . but the more people try to stuff the capabilities of all of these into Mathematica, the surer I am that this is a terrible idea. --Tony Siegman, Stanford University