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Re: Does Mathematica really need more printed, introductory documentation?


Is it really "reality based" to be comparing books about Adobe  
Illustrator (all versions going as far back as 2003) with books only  
about version 6 of Mathematica ? Sounds to me more like a reflection  
in a distorting mirror masquerading as "reality"  (something  
unfortunately very common these days in the media and in large  
sections of the Academia).

Why don't you perform a search for books about Mathematica (all  
versions) and compare your findings with your list of books about  
Illustrator? The picture will become very different and much closer to  
"reality". The fact is, that the vast majority of essential features  
of Mathematica are described in these earlier versions and that any  
one who has mastered them should be able to update his knowledge to  
version 6 without a huge extra effort.

As I already expained earlier: I would not buy any printed "manual  
style" book about Mathematica and I remain highly skeptical that such  
a book would be successful enough to justify the effort of writing it.  
However, this only one person's view based on mere speculation.  
However, I am (of course) very interested in any books *applying* the  
new features of Mathematica 6, but that is an entirely different matter.

Andrzej Kozlowski


On 28 Apr 2008, at 17:37, AES wrote:

> 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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