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Re: A new graphic user interface

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  • Subject: [mg111706] Re: A new graphic user interface
  • From: telefunkenvf14 <rgorka at>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2010 04:45:22 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <i3oh1n$pgr$>

On Aug 9, 4:16 am, Murray Eisenberg <mur... at> wrote:
> 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-wast=
er and
> > would serve only to confuse new users about the nature of Mathematica (=
> > underlying markup structure of the .nb files, etc.)
> Amen!
> > 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.

Not convinced. I sense this observation is (in part) shaped by the
topic of the class.

If you're teaching a pure math class? Then sure,  I can see how
starting with palettes would do no serious harm---but it all depends
on the skill-set you want students achieve by the end of the semester,
and the types of applications you show/build in class. (Simple problem
solving vs. building more complicated models and interfaces, grabbing
data from the net, automating emails or SMS messages, etc.)

Even if not directly applicable to their field of study, I really
believe it's valuable to broaden students' perspective of what's
possible. IMO, there is just far too little exposure to computer
science. Q: How are we going to pay for all of the social promises
we've made in this country (social security, etc.)?!? A: Well (I tell
my students) you'd better get more productive, or there won't be
enough output to go around!!

Maybe I'm young and naive about what's attainable...

(BTW, I do like Helen's screencasts and other web resources.... and
your's too, Murry!)


> > 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                     mur... at math.umas=
> Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
> Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
> University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (=
> 710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
> Amherst, MA 01003-9305

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