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MathGroup Archive 2008

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Does Mathematica really need more printed, introductory documentation?


In response to Andrzej Kozlowski's comment

>    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, . . .


Does Mathematica really need printed, more introductory level 
documentation (aka books, or manuals) to add to its excellent, but less 
readable, online documentation?  

Let's take an experimental or "reality-based" approach to this question 
(however much that approach may be out of favor with our current 
administration in Washington . . .)

Adobe Illustrator is, in my opinion anyway, an excellent piece of 
technical software, comparable in quality and usefulness and at least 
somewhat comparable in technical complexity, to Mathematica.  

There's probably a sizable overlap --- or at very least, a very sizable 
_potential_ market overlap --- between Illustrator and Mathematica users 
(new graphics commands that are very Illustrator-like have in fact been 
added in 6.0).

Both programs have something of an initial learning curve for "ordinary 
users"; both have excellent detailed online reference documentation.

Mathematica is, I would judge, actually substantial more complex and 
requires more learning for an average individual than does Illustrator.  
On my Mac, Illustrator 11 is 75 MB for the app itself, plus another 75 
MB of supplemental stuff.  I didn't try to dig inside the Mathematica 
package, but it's over 1 GB in my Applications folder, plus whatever 
additional material is stuffed away elsewhere on my HD.  Illustrator 
manuals tend to be 300 to 500 pages; the Mathematica Book for v5 was 
just under 1500.  Mathematica users, especially less experienced ones, 
might need more forms and varieties of documentation, that Illustrator 
users.

So, to get some idea what sort of introductory printed books and manuals 
might be useful for Mathematica, we might ask: what sort of introductory 
printed books and manuals are readily available, right now, for 
Illustrator?   (Noting again that Illustrator also has good, well 
organized, readily accessible online documentation, Help files, and 
tutorials --- along with helpful user forums on its web site.)

A quick look at amazon.com then brings up a list of at least twelve (12) 
such introductory books or manuals on Illustrator (list appended below).  
All of these books are currently available in stock on amazon (and three 
are on my bookshelf) --- as compared to _none_ (as yet, anyway) for 
Mathematica 6.

At least half of these Illustrator manuals can be identified as current 
editions of earlier versions that were published for earlier versions of 
Illustrator.  In other words, earlier versions apparently sold well 
enough that authors were willing to write and publishers were willing to 
bring out 2nd, 3rd, even 4th editions of these manuals, updated for the 
current version of Illustrator.

Or in other words, for me anyway:  The experimental evidence is that 
these books  _clearly meet user needs_, sufficiently so that authors are 
willing to invest their energies in writing them; publishers publish 
them; and users buy them, including more than once;

Should Wolfram maybe recognize this point?

=====================================

*  Adobe Illustrator CS3 Classroom in a Book by Adobe Creative Team 
(2007)  $35

*  The Adobe Illustrator CS3 Wow! Book by Sharon Steuer (2007) $24

*  Adobe Illustrator CS3 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques by Karlins 
and Hopkins (2007) $10

*  Real World Adobe Illustrator CS3 by Mordy Golding (2007) $20

*  Illustrator CS3 Bible by Ted Alspach ( 2007) $25

*  Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design by Susan Lazear (2008) $35

*  Fashion Designer's Handbook for Adobe Illustrator by Centner and 
Vereker (2007) $50

*  Illustrator CS3 for Windows and Macintosh (Visual QuickStart Guide) 
by Weinmann and Lourekas (2007) $20 

*  Adobe Illustrator CS3 Revealed by Chris Botello (Aug 31, 2007) $45

*  Best Practice: The Pros On Adobe Illustrator by Toni Toland (Aug 16, 
2006) $35

*  Adobe Illustrator CS2 Revealed, Education Edition by Chris Botello 
(2005) $40

*  Illustrator CS for Dummies by Ted Alspach (2003) $25

=====================================


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