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Re: A new graphic user interface

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  • Subject: [mg111673] Re: A new graphic user interface
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2010 05:16:46 -0400 (EDT)

Comments interspersed below.

On 8/8/2010 7:22 AM, telefunkenvf14 wrote:
> ...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....

I held that position, too. But Helen Read's reports in this group 
provide empirical evidence that this is an unfounded concern: with the 
Classroom Assistant palette, what begins as point-and-click soon morphs 
into just typing input, apparently without much or any intervention by 
the instructor to suggest this change.
> Here are a few thoughts/suggestions (my prezi suggestion is a pipe
> dream...):
> 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.)

Agreed, although it's no longer as bad as I thought. (The real 
difficulty is in designing the changes so as to look good, and realizing 
that you have to account for the different environments -- screen, 
print, presentation, slideshow -- for each style.)
> 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!!

Yes! Just being able to bookmark a Documentation Center page, and insert 
annotations on a page, would be a significant improvement. (I didn't 
miss some way of doing, did I?)

For bookmarking, there is already a way, albeit rather clunky: use the 
URL button at the top of any ref or tutorial page to copy the page's 
URL, and just paste the URL as the target in a hyperlink you create in a 
notebook of your own.  Unfortunately, there are no URL buttons at the 
top of guide pages, and creating the hyperlink text and then supplying 
the copied URL as its target takes too much work.

Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
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

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