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MathGroup Archive 2007

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Re: Where is the Mathematica Book in Documentation Center?

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg76193] Re: [mg75987] Where is the Mathematica Book in Documentation Center?
  • From: "Igor C. Antonio" <igora at wolf-ram.com>
  • Date: Thu, 17 May 2007 06:10:34 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
  • References: <200705140749.DAA23216@smc.vnet.net>
  • Reply-to: igora at wolf-ram.com

Mark Adler wrote:
> The old help function was actually helpful.
> 
> Aside from the fact that I now need to know how to spell in order to
> get help from the "Documentation Center", I can't find the good stuff
> that used to be there.  (Apparently you can use asterisk as a wild
> card to help a little with the spelling thing.)

Hi Mark,

I'm not involved with the development of the Help Viewer, but do you 
have examples of things you were able to find in V5.2 docs (Help 
Browser) by typing that you weren't able to do so in the V6.0 docs (Help 
Viewer)?  I imagine that the team working on it would be interested in 
seeing specific examples to try to improve the new system.

At first I didn't like the new help viewer, but that's because I knew 
where everything was in the help browser and, you know, people overall 
don't like changes.  After a while, however, I warmed up to the viewer 
and now I like it quite a bit more.

Forget for a moment that you know the browser and let's say you're not 
very familiar with Mathematica, but you're trying to learn more about 
plotting data.

In V5.2, searching for "plotting" yields:
--------------
Standard Packages
Plotting symbols, LabeledListPlot, Graphics`Graphics`
MultipleListPlot, Graphics`MultipleListPlot`
TextListPlot, Graphics`Graphics`

The Mathematica Book
Plotting symbols, drawing, Offset, 2.10.4
TextListPlot, 1.9.10
--------------

IMO, it's not the greatest list of results considering that the first 
hyperlink is to Graphics`Graphics.  In V6.0, the reaults are much, much 
better...

--------------
Search Results	1 - 10 of 1001 for plotting
  	
Plot (Built-in Mathematica Symbol)
Plot[f, {x, x_min, x_max}] generates a plot of f as a function of x from 
x_min to x_max. Plot[{f_1, f_2, ...}, {x, x_min, x_max}] plots several 
functions f_i.

Basic Plotting (Mathematica Tutorial)
Basic plotting functions. This plots a graph of sin(x) as a function of 
x from 0 to 2\[Pi]. You can plot functions that have singularities. 
Mathematica will try to choose ...

Plotting Options (Mathematica Guide)
With its core symbolic paradigm and immediate access to sophisticated 
numerical, symbolic and geometric algorithms, Mathematica is able to 
provide a uniquely flexible and ...

[various <something>Plot functions]

--------------





> Most notably the Mathematica Book is missing in action.  I used to be
> able to simply read the book, chapter and verse, find references to
> functions in several places in the book, and use the book's index.
 >
> Now I can't find any of that.

I believe that the contents of the book are now spread out throughout 
Mathematica Guides (items listed under More About) and Mathematica 
Tutorials (items listed under Tutorials) in the help viewer, but I'm not 
sure.  It's been a while since I looked through the V5.2 docs.

I do wish there was an index or table of contents for all the Guide and 
Tutorial pages so that one could browse through them.

> 
> Also when I look at functions that are in packages, there is no
> information or examples about how to load or depend on the package.
> All I want to see is the relevant Get or Needs expression to be able
> to use the function.

I also didn't find them at first, but take for example the Data 
Visualization guide page:

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/guide/DataVisualization.html

I didn't look through all, but I clicked on the PieChart Package 
documentation and it shows "Needs["PieCharts`"] at the top.  Again, I 
think it would be nice to have an index of all package documentation.

> 
> The information on functions now seems rather terse, with no real
> explanations or decent examples.  (Yes, I click on all the things I
> can click on to see what's there.)

I will have to disagree here.  I huge effort was put into creating many 
examples for each function in Mathematica (both old and new).  I believe 
that every single example was reviewed and if it didn't help demonstrate 
how the function worked, it was thrown away.  I know the V5.X docs had 
some examples that showed "neat and crazy" Mathematica code rather than 
help explain what the function did.

Examples now are also broken up into different sections:  Basic Examples 
, Scope, Generalizations & Extensions, Options, Applications, Properties 
& Relations.  They start by showing the most basic use of a function, go 
on to discuss options and "things to keep in mind," and finally discuss 
some more complex uses of a function.  Take a look at Plot3D's entry: 
there are 89 examples just for Plot3D.

The Guide pages and the pages for each function are meant to be used as 
references and, I think, have the same language style as the Built-in 
functions section of the V5.2 docs.  The Tutorials in v6.0, however, are 
much nicer to read and I even think use a simpler language than the 
Mathematica Book in V5.2.  Example:

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/tutorial/AdvancedDynamicFunctionality.html

> 
> Mark Adler
> 

Overall I'm very pleased with the new viewer, but there are certainly a 
few things here and there that can be improved upon.

Igor


Igor C. Antonio
Wolfram Research, Inc.

To email me personally, remove the dash.


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