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Re: Any way to make help browser remember the last

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  • Subject: [mg98761] Re: Any way to make help browser remember the last
  • From: AES <siegman at>
  • Date: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 03:38:09 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Stanford University
  • References: <gs1nro$7h5$> <gs47in$7m5$> <> <gs9ej8$mrj$>

In article <gs9ej8$mrj$1 at>,
 Daniel Lichtblau <danl at> wrote:

> AES wrote:
> > [...]
> > If the Help material (and other documentation) for Mathematica were 
> > written and displayed in another app and format (like, for example, 
> > Adobe PDF), as is the case with most other major applications, you could 
> > jump back and forth between your active Mathematica windows and your 
> > currently active documentation window(s), leaving both of them 
> > absolutely stable and unchanged in between viewings, with a single 
> > keystroke, Cmd-Tab (on a Mac, anyway).
> > 
> > Works like a charm; I do it all the time with other apps.  And, 
> > documentation in the form of a PDF file can be scanned, viewed, 
> > searched, enlarged, read, and generally used _immensely_ more 
> > effectively and easily in, say, Adobe Acrobat (or probably Reader, 
> > though I don't use that) than documentation in Mathematica's cramped and 
> > awkward format.
> These other applications and their documentation display tools, how well 
> do they handle input and evaluation of mathematical content?

      I appreciate that there can be some value in being able to 
      evaluate Mathematica examples or cells that are contained 
      within the Mathematica documentation pages, directly within 
      those pages.  

      I personally do not find that I make much use of this, however -- 
      and when I do want or need to do so, I can always (and would 
      generally prefer to) copy the example (which is almost always a 
      brief single cell or example) into my own running copy of 
      Mathematica (which would be necessarily running anyway), where 
      I can modify or customize it to apply to the situation I want to 

      And the numerous advantages of reading documentation in a more 
      suitable format and using more suitable software -- in PDF, for
      example -- which I've listed above, coupled with the disadvantages
      associated with having to read it in the existing Mathematica 
      documentation formats, just make the choice a no-brainer, IMHO.

> > [Of course, one can only imagine what documentation for, say Excel, 
> > would be like, if MS insisted that _all_ the documentation for Excel 
> > also had to be _written_ only in Excel . . . ]
> > 
> > [Did I add, that selected pages or sections of documentation in PDF can 
> > also be printed out, if you'd prefer to have a few particularly relevant 
> > pages of the documentation sitting on your (physical) desktop, beside 
> > your keyboard -- where you can just glance over at it, without having to 
> > close or open anything on screen.]
> Last time I checked (which was today), one can still print Mathematica 
> notebooks. This would apply to e.g. Help browser pages.

      Last time I checked, most of the rest of the software world -- 
      indeed most of the rest of the world, period -- was supplying its 
      documentation in downloadable PDF format; and even the authors 
      and distributors of many books and manuals sold on paper were 
      also including a full CD of the full content along with the 
      purchased book (and were also continuing to write, publish,
      and successfully market these books and manuals).  Could it 
      be there's a reason for this . . .?

      Or are you suggesting that it would be too difficult for Wolfram 
      to serve different portions of its customer base, who might have
      varying needs or preferences, by just setting up an automated
      process to convert its documentation into PDF files on its web
      site, which users could then access and selectively download, 
      when, if, and as they needed?

> In the Help browser notebooks one can also click on URLs to the 
> corresponding (html) web pages, bring them up, print them, etc. Maybe 
> not suitable for framing (unless you print on really good paper). But 
> useful all the same.

      The endless and aimless clicking through literally hundreds if 
      not thousands of infinitely branching links, trying to find
      out what is in Mathematica's documentation, or where it is, 
      within what often seems an infinitely expanding tree structure -- 
      or, later on, attempting to get back to something that you
      noted earlier on and now realize you want -- is in fact _the_
      single most aggravating and disfunctional aspect of the 
      whole system.
      trying to get back to something you saw earlier in thisis

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