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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Re: Mathematica Notebook Organiztion


It seems to me that there are two quite different issues involved here. 
The one that you are discussing is Mathematica trying to compete as a 
WISIWIG tool driven by mouse clicks and menus with applications like 
Illustrator etc. I don't see any evidence that anyone is thinking of 
this.
The other issue is expanding the Mathematica programming language to 
give the user who wants to program even greater degree of control over 
the details of graphics, text, typesetting etc. This is indeed where 
Mathematica is going and I am sure most users approve of it and are 
looking forward to this.
I think this is quite different than what Illustrator is for (that why 
I mentioned PostScript programming) and even when the demos Theodor 
Gray has been showing over the last few years become reality it will 
still make sense for many to use programs like Illustrator to re-touch 
their Mathematica generated graphics.

Andrzej Kozlowski


On 10 May 2005, at 16:42, AES wrote:

> In article <d5muvu$duq$1 at smc.vnet.net>,
>  Chris Chiasson <chris.chiasson at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Are you saying that most ordinary users have abandoned Mathematica?
>
> No, not at all.  Many, many working scientists and engineers -- along
> with students, professors, and many others in many other fields -- use
> Mathematica as our primary tool for calculations, analysis, and for
> graphing or animating the results of calculations and analysis; and I'd
> very much like to see that continue.
>
> But I'm saying that Mathematica's syntax and user interface are already
> sufficiently complex (or, if you like, feature-rich) just for doing
> those tasks that learning and using it can already be intimidating:  
> The
> Mathematica Book is already 1462 pages; the abbreviated listing of 
> major
> Built-In Objects is 266 pages (well over 1000 such "major" objects?).
>
> And I'm arguing more seriously that the added complexity needed in
> trying to build world-class document preparation capabilities on top of
> these already world-class analysis, computation, and graphics
> capabilities is (a) unnecessary, (b) undesirable, and (c) may seriously
> compromise or even destroy the usability of Mathematica for its primary
> purpose by making it too complex, intimidating, and hard to learn for
> ordinary users -- in other words, a really BAD idea.
>
>
>> Mathematica already describes notebooks in the same language that it
>> takes commands. Take a look at the raw format of a Mathematica style
>> sheet or a regular Mathematica notebook.
>>
>>   (much stuff snipped)
>>
>> It would be very attractive to me to eliminate the need for using many
>> different languages to deliver rich web content. Mathematica can
>> already do animations, scripting, and dynamic code generation
>> (NotebookWrite). Given the above, why do you think it's such a bad
>> idea to use Mathematica for the web?
>
> Don't think I said that.  What I'd say is:
>
> *  I'd be perfectly glad to have Mathematica contain some simple 
> (repeat,
> simple) capabilities for posting its notebooks on the web, or printing
> them, or converting them to PDF files, or whatever.
>
> *  I do NOT, however, think Mathematica should also try to become a 
> world-class
> tool for preparing AND delivering polished web content, or for 
> preparing
> publication-quality (journal-quality) typeset printed output, or for
> polishing graphics output to publication quality, or any of those 
> tasks.
>
> Given the ease with which one can switch applications on modern
> computers, what's wrong with having multiple tools (or "many different
> languages") each optimized to best accomplish different aspects of 
> these
> tasks?
>
> Answer:  Nothing is wrong with this, provided there's adequate 
> agreement
> on some reasonable set of standard formats for the objects you're
> working on, and each app can import or export those formats as needed.
>
> Calculate plots or animations with Mathematica and export them to EPS,
> PDF or QuickTime; polish and annotate the graphics with Illustrator;
> edit the animations and add tracks with QuickTime Pro; embed all of
> these together with other material and present or publish them with
> PowerPoint or Acrobat; insert them in books or journal submissions
> prepared with TeX or LaTeX;  insert them in web pages prepared and
> edited with your favorite web preparation tool.
>
> Trying to build all the capabilities of Illustrator, Acrobat, 
> QuickTime,
> PowerPoint, DreamWeaver, LaTeX, and what else (sound and music apps?)
> into Mathematica doesn't produce efficiency; it just makes 
> Mathematica's
> interface so complex as to become unusable (and if you'd propose to 
> have
> modular sections within Mathematica for each task, well then the 
> modules
> can just as well be separate apps).
>
> It doesn't reduce the learning curve:  If you're going to do any one of
> those tasks, you have to understand the concepts and the sub-tasks and
> what's needed to implement them, whatever app you use to implement 
> them.
> As just one example, if you're going to worry touching up the weights
> and colors and other properties of lines and curves and typefaces in a
> plot, you have to understand the concept of "strokes" and "fills" and
> how to edit them, whether you do this in Illustrator or Mathematica -- 
> and
> Illustrator's WYSIWYG is so much easier to use that re-running a whole
> Mathematica graphic just to make some cosmetic changes.
>
> It doesn't allow competition to optimize the tools for individual 
> tasks.
>
> And so on . . .
>


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