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Re: A new graphic user interface

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg111636] Re: A new graphic user interface
  • From: telefunkenvf14 <rgorka at gmail.com>
  • Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2010 07:22:11 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <i3gpp1$2v0$1@smc.vnet.net> <i3jc57$d03$1@smc.vnet.net>

On Aug 7, 5:22 am, Mihail <macherkass... at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Aug 6, 2:56 pm, Murray Eisenberg <mur... at math.umass.edu> wrote:
>
>
>
> > What iwould you want in the Mathematica front end that could be more
> > user-friendly? In what ways do you find it currently unfriendly?
>
> > What has been added to the front end over several versions is absolutel=
y
> > awesome.
>
> > But perhaps you're thinking of such things as automatic backup, or
> > multiple-level undo and redo.
>
> > On 8/5/2010 7:00 AM, Mihail wrote:
>
> > > Will a graphic user interface be more friendly in new version of
> > > Mathematica?
>
> > --
> > Murray Eisenberg                     mur... at math.um=
as=
> s.edu
> > Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
> > Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
> > University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859=
 (=
> W)
> > 710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
> > Amherst, MA 01003-9305
>
> Yes, I think of such things as automatic backup, or multiple-level
> undo and redo.
> I would like to see more powerful organization of palettes and
> notebooks. Organization of palettes may be look like the ribbon
> interface in MS Office 2007. Organization of notebooks may be look
> like tabs in Google Chrome or Firefox. Notebooks and palettes will be
> able to dock and undock. The code editor will be able to highlight
> brackets. The highlighting looks like in Workbench 2. The selection of
> code works like the selection for normal text without expansion. The
> expansion appears when I try deselect the selection. The 'complete
> selection' works like in such manner:
> 1) I type something for example 'ListL' .
> 2) I press Ctrl+K  (complete selection).
> 3) I continue type and 'complete selection list' interactive suggests
> an end of word.
> The powerful tooltip appears when I type the function arguments and
> powerful 'complete selection list' appears for function arguments.

Besides the eye candy I mentioned above, I happen to really like the
overall Mathematica interface. I think the ribbon would be a space-waster and
would serve only to confuse new users about the nature of Mathematica (the
underlying markup structure of the .nb files, etc.)

One related example, which I believe emphasizes my point: When
students jump into using palettes they're able to create a pile of poo
rather quickly----a pile they cannot possibly debug due to the fact
they've never absorbed 'everything is an expression'. Clinging to the
pointy-clicky route also makes the documentation seem very foreign to
new users. I have nothing against using palettes, but things need to
be learned in proper order. In this regard, trying to make the
interface more like MS Word will, in the long run, hurt new users and
the reputation of the software.

Here are a few thoughts/suggestions (my prezi suggestion is a pipe
dream...):

1. DPI scaling in Windows is a mess. (for many different pieces of
software, not just Mathematica) A lot of programs are locked into the 96 DPI
world. My new laptop is 1920x1080, which looks great, except that
fonts become way too small in Mathematica. To compensate for this I have
adjusted the default Magnification to 1.5----as a result, the
notebooks look PERFECT, but the documentation center now looks like
CRAP (distorted). Adjusting the system wide Windows DPI scaling causes
similar problems. Suggestion: could WRI just make it so users can 'run
through' the documentation center, re-evaluating all the examples and
saving the output to the doc center? I can easily imagine this would
be problematic. Regardless, a suggestion.

2. Stylesheets need to be easier to create and alter (without fear
that your going to screw something up---this is frustrating and extra
confusing for new users.)

3. I'm not totally in favor of integrating backup features. I can
imagine cases where this would cause problems, slow-downs and crashes,
especially if notebooks are large. Perhaps a backup feature that
ignores output cells would work?

The irony is that as you get better at Mathematica you don't code as much
notebook crashing garbage, making backups redundant. (haha) Of course
this doesn't comfort new users... I use Microsoft LiveSync to sync my
notebooks across machines, and along with regular system backups, this
seems to be enough.

4. While I've also REALLY grown to love the documentation materials
(especially compared to other languages!!), I do wish there were a way
WRI could somehow include a way for users to contribute to it and
customize it. (i) When a user comes across a documentation example
they find confusing, it would be nice if there were small/discrete
button that linked to additional explanations provided by the
community. This would be a way to document 'gotchas' and points of
confusion amongst users---and would surely be useful summary info that
WRI could use to improve the product. (ii) I'd also like to be able to
bookmark locations in the documentation and save scraps of customized
code ideas, tagged to those bookmarks. I know this would cut down on
the mountain of scrap notebooks I have!!

5. This isn't related to the 'graphic interface'...how about MP3
support? I understand that MP3 is actually protected intellectual
property, and so if WRI included MP3 i/o in the product then we'd all
have to pay more.

The way around this is for WRI to show the user community some
detailed examples of how to link to open source codecs, such as
FFMpeg. Then users could simply add the functionality themselves. (If
anyone is interested, I have a collection of potentially useful code;
most is C and C++, both of which I'm still learning.

-RG


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