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RE: Re: more gripe about the new documentation center (DC) in Mathematica

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg77893] RE: [mg77862] Re: more gripe about the new documentation center (DC) in Mathematica
  • From: José Luis Gómez-Muñoz <jose.luis.gomez at>
  • Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 06:38:41 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <f530gp$16k$> <>

I love Mathematica. I really hope our comments can help making a great
product even better.

The v6.0 Documentation Center has a lot more examples (than the old v5.2
help), many of them really really neat. So why we (some of the users) do not
like it?

In my case, because I cannot see the structure that I was able to see in
v5.2 Help Browser. Maybe the structure is there, but I cannot see it.

Let me quote Kovas Boguta, from Wolfram Research, in his post to the Wolfram
Blog, he was writing about a very different topic, but I think we can apply
it here:
"An English phrase is built of subphrases. A mathematical formula is built
of subformulas. A musical score is built of bars, which contain notes. A web
page layout is built from sublayouts. When humans want to communicate
nontrivial structures, they use hierarchical nesting." 

That is, in my opinion, the main thing that v6.0 help lost (as compare with
v5.2 help): (explicit) hierarchical structure.

Now I quote myself. Sorry for that, I really want to be useful. In another
reply, I wrote:

>I believe that Szabolcs has described precisely the "problem"
>with v6.0 documentation: If v5.2 help seemed to be a (safe) Tree, now 
>v6.0 help seems to be a (unsafe) Labyrinth.
>The tree-like structure of v5.2 help browser helps the end user have 
>the feeling that s/he will eventually be able to know everything that 
>has to be known about a specific topic. Just have to "travel" and spend 
>enough time "inside" all the relevant branches.
>That comfortable sensation was lost in v6.0 Documentation Center.  

Again, I really hope all this considerations are useful for the great team
at WRI.



-----Mensaje original-----
De: David Bailey [mailto:dave at] 
Enviado el: Lunes, 18 de Junio de 2007 06:06 a.m.
Para: mathgroup at
Asunto: [mg77862] Re: more gripe about the new documentation center (DC) in

Nasser Abbasi wrote:
> 1) so I start DC, and click on the "index of functions" link, near the 
> bottom, and after a little while, I get a new screen showing all the 
> functions listed alphabetically. Great, I said, now I can see all the 
> functions out there in one place.
> I searched for the function PrincipalComponents but it is NOT listed.
> But if one does search for PrincipalComponents from that DC tiny search 
> window (after erasing what was there every time), this function comes up.
> So why was it not lised in the index of functions output?
> Does this mean that the "index of functions" only lists those functions
> does not exist inside packages which requires loading first?  This makes 
> this listing less effective then.
> 2) When I ask DC to search for something, there is no indication it is
> searching. On a slow PC, one thinks it is frozen, or may be the command
> not 'go through',  and tries the same search command again. There should
> something spinning or some indication that the command was actually
> and being processed. This is a UI design 101 thing.
> Sometimes DC takes more than 5 seconds to return a result on my old PC.
> 3)For whatever it is worth, I still think the 5.2 help system is MUCH
> for learning and finding what is in the new system.
> I do not really need the DC as it is, I can just as well use Google 
> directly, which I find myself doing more, since the same information in DC

> is already on WRI web pages and Google finds it just as fast. The earlier 
> help system provided a structure to the documentation which added an
> dimension which DC does not provide.
> The people have spoken: We want the the old help system back. (WRI could 
> always keep the new DC for those users who prefer Google style 
> documentation).
> Thank you for listening.
> Nasser
Yes, I too hope they will upgrade the next version of Mathematica by 
putting back the old help system - for most of the reasons you have 

Wouldn't it be great to have 6.0 functionality with a 5.2-style help system!

David Bailey

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