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Re: Wolfram User Interface Research?
*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
*Subject*: [mg88109] Re: Wolfram User Interface Research?
*From*: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
*Date*: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 05:27:27 -0400 (EDT)
*Organization*: Stanford University
*References*: <fuhfdc$ihb$1@smc.vnet.net> <fuhrka$s88$1@smc.vnet.net> <200804211836.OAA09742@smc.vnet.net> <fukeo8$s2j$1@smc.vnet.net> <200804230807.EAA28845@smc.vnet.net> <fupm08$s2t$1@smc.vnet.net>
In article <fupm08$s2t$1 at smc.vnet.net>,
Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at mimuw.edu.pl> wrote:
> On 23 Apr 2008, at 17:07, AES wrote:
>
> > Is the primary market for Mathematica supposed to be
> > "Mathematica programmers", skilled in the arcana of the
> > more abstruse parts of Mathematica, or "ordinary users"
> > whose primary interests and skills lie in many, many other
> > fields -- and who want Mathematica to be (for them) just
> > an easy to learn, easy to use, easy to remember tool?
>
> Mathematica could not function the way it does unless it satisfied
> both types of users. It has to be powerful enough for professional
> programmers if not for other reason than just the fact that a large
> part of Mathematica itself (and all add on packages) are written in
> the Mathematica programming language. It also has to satisfy enough
> "ordinary users" for even more obvious reasons. In my opinion it has
> always performed both functions admirably.
Fully and totally agree.
> These "abstruse" parts of Mathematica are not obligatory for "ordinary
> users" but for Mathematica programmers and developers (and many "power
> users") they make life a lot easier.
Also agree -- but my expectation would be that there are (or could be --
and should be) a *great* many more ordinary users than power users.
So it's important for both types that *both* markets be well served --
and especially the ordinary users, because there are so many more of
them. Getting their $$ is vital to the success of Matheamtica . The power users
are savvy enough that if Mathematica is very good -- which it is -- they'll wade
through minor difficulties. The ordinary users won't --- they'll go
elsewhere.
> I believe you are familiar with TeX; at least you mention it often
> enough. Do you seriously claim that Mathematica has more of these
> "abstruse parts" than TeX? Have you ever heard words like "TeXPert",
> "TexMaster" etc? Are you able to program or even understand a set of
> advanced TeX macros, like, for example, the AMS ones?
I'm quite familiar with TeX and can "program" in it, though I'm not
really a TeXpert. Plain TeX is *much* less complex than Mathematica.
Several decades ago, in fact, the lab I was in had several
secretaries/technical typists in the so-called "Reports Group", several
of whom had not finished high school --- but one could hand a
hand-written draft of a ms to them, full of complex math -- and they'd
turn it into TeX source.
TeX is *much* smaller than Mathematica by whatever measure you like (syntax,
size of code), and very well documented for ordinary or power users
(have a look at Knuth's TeXBook to understand this).
LaTeX and other macro packages built on TeX are much more complex than
plain TeX; I use them but would never try to dig into their internals.
I can, however, go to amazon and buy any of several introductory manuals
that tell me in understandable terms how to use them.
> Finally, in all your posts you never seem to mention the very essential
> (in the case of Mathematica) distinction between the Front End and the
> Kernel. The great majority of new functionality in v. 6 concerns the
> former. In principle there is no reason why Mathematica should not be
> available with alternative Front Ends. It used to be possible to run
> later versions with earlier Front Ends. I have not tried this with v.
> 6 but that would be one way to do away with most of the new
> "complexity" that you seems to displease you so.
If that can be done --- and documented for ordinary users --- have at it!
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