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Re: Wolfram User Interface Research?

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  • Subject: [mg88117] Re: Wolfram User Interface Research?
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 05:28:53 -0400 (EDT)

On 4/23/08 at 4:05 AM, peter.king at (King, Peter R)

>>It's really all a matter of what one has learned, and how well, and
>>how accustomed one is to the language. As just one rather
>>simple-minded example, suppose you want to form the running
>>cumulative sum of a list (in APL-speak, a vector) of numbers. In
>>APL, this is given by
>>+\ vec

>But I suspect that most users of Mathematica are mathematicians (or
>physicists or engineers or the like) and so come from a background
>of standard mathematical notation. Whilst Mathematica does try hard
>to stick with this it doesn't always and special symbols (like #, @)
>and so on are not transparent to a new user and not something that
>you would ordinarily search on. I have the advantage of an old
>fashioned thing made of paper, with hard covers (called a book) for
>Mathematica 5 and can flick through,  see a symbol I don't recognise
>and read about it and think there may be better ways of expressing
>things than the way I am used to.

While I also have the book that came with earlier versions of
Mathematica and find it useful, it is very easy to determine
what new symbols do without the book. And the documentation in
version 6, while harder to browse, is much more efficient for
finding information on a known symbol.

For example, if I type @@ in a cell, select what I typed and use
the keyboard short cut (cmd-shift-f on a Mac) I am almost
instantly taken to a page that provides considerable detail as
to what this is and how it can be used.

>With an online help I don't know that you would ever go and just look
>up random symbols unless someone had pointed you in the right direction.

The online documentation certainly isn't optimum for say finding
all odd symbols used in Mathematica. Browsing the book is better
for this. But once you know a symbol is used, the new document
center is very efficient for finding information for that symbol.

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