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Re: Wolfram User Interface Research?
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!