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Re: Re: Wolfram User Interface Research?

On 25 Apr 2008, at 18:27, AES wrote:

> In article <fupm08$s2t$1 at>,
> Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at> 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.

Hmm... I did write: "It also has to satisfy enough "ordinary users"  
for even more obvious reasons." ....

And anohter thing: I wonder what entitles you to consider yourself a  
spokesman for these "ordinary users" (who are "going to go elswhere").  
Why not just speak for yourself?  Judging by quite many "ordinary  
users" I known, the views you have been expressing, particularly those  
on the need for printed software manuals rather make you a memeber of  
a minority, and moreover a rather rapidly declining one. I for one,  
really hate printed software manuals. They occupy space, tend to  
vanish wihtout trace whenever I need them, and most of all, I can  
never remeber what I read in one of them when I actually try to work  
on my computer. I love printed books: my several "homes", in different  
parts of the world, are filled with books on literature, history,  
mathematics etc. in several languages but I have got rid of all my  
software manuals and do not wish to see another one ever again. Of  
course I realize that this is only one person's view but so is yours).

>> 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).

You seem to have completely missed my point. You complained about  
"abstruse" Mathematica symbols such as @, /@, @@ etc. You seem to be  
oblivious to the fact that

1. You never need to use them yourself. Each of them can be replaced  
by a much more "readable form".
2. TeX uses special forms such as {,$, &, %,\ and plenty of even more  
"abstruse" instructions. A typical fragment of TeX code looks like this:


There is no possibility of writing this in any more legible way. Do  
you still insist that this is simpler than equivalent Mathematica code?

Andrzej Kozlowski

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