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Re: Re-virginating Manipulates?

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  • Subject: [mg114398] Re: Re-virginating Manipulates?
  • From: AES <siegman at>
  • Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2010 05:20:41 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <id2emh$d7s$>

In article <id2emh$d7s$1 at>,
 "Ingolf Dahl" <ingolf.dahl at> wrote:

> This interaction between different Manipulate cells can be a pest,
> especially in the authoring notebook for a new demonstration, where you
> should have the same Manipulate cell in several variants, as thumbnail and
> as snapshots. If you manipulate one of them, the other cells might interact,
> especially if some variables are defined in the Initialization option. I
> denote this problem "the Isolation Problem". The Manipulate command puts all
> controls inside a DynamicModuleBox, (hopefully) isolating them from
> interaction with other cells. However, variables defined by the
> Initialization option are defined outside the DynamicModule, and they might
> interfere with outside code and other Manipulate cells, if the same variable
> names are reused. According to my current understanding, there are three
> measures you could take: some combination of  them could be effective.
> Please correct me if I am wrong, I would very much appreciate that.

I suggest that there's a lot of wisdom in the above paragraph; and 
further suggest that this "Isolation Problem", while serious and 
destructive enough by itself, is just one example of a larger "Excessive 
and Unsustainable Complexity Problem" that Mathematica suffers from.

If I prepare a presentation as a PDF, Keynote, or PowerPoint document, 
with links from individual slides to other documents, graphics, movies, 
or animations in external files, I can edit, update, or totally replace 
any of these linked components (so long as I keep them under the same 
file names), and know for absolute certain that there will be no 
"gotcha" interferences between any of these components.

[And as an aside, I can edit, update or re-generate any of those 
external components using the bestor easiest tool for that purpose -- 
and buy new and better tools for those individual tasks, as they come 
along -- thus gaining all the joys and economic and usability virtues 
and efficiencies of software modularity.]  

[Beyond that, I can -- and routinely do -- maintain the large collection 
of individual slides used in these presentations as individual 
free-standing files; edit and update them also as needed and with the 
best tools for each task; keep them cataloged in topical catalogs in an 
excellent file catalog app (happens to be iView MediaPro in my case); 
and then easily and rapidly reassemble and repurpose them into different 
presentations and documents for different audiences and different 
occasions -- >>> all the while keeping all the external component links 
from each of them active and fully independent <<<.]

Trying to do the analog of this in Mathematica -- enormously powerful as 
it is -- would be a nightmare.  Mathematica's attempt to create and 
manage the "presentation" levels, the "typesetting and typography" 
levels, the "symbolic analysis" levels, the "numerical calculation 
levels" and the "graphics and animation" levels" involved in all these 
slides and external components, all in one app and under one user 
interface, is and always been a monomaniacal fantasy.

Individual Manipulates are beyond question a wonderful addition to the 
array of "graphics, movies, animations" and other external presentation 
components mentioned above.  Wolfram deserve great credit for innovating 
them, and I intend to learn how to create and use them.  But:

1) I have no intention of even attempting to understand the immensely 
complex Dynamic underpinnings that control Manipulates.  (Who knows what 
ever deeper troubles, complexities, and frustrations that will then lead 
me into?!?)  

So, I just want to know how to totally isolate them from each other.

2)  I've presented the kind of presentations listed above in a large 
variety of classrooms, industrial and academic conference rooms, 
conference centers, hotel ballrooms, etc, domestic and overseas, over 
the years.  

When I do this, I generally tote along my Mac laptop and suitable VGA 
adaptor cables in case I need to project from it -- but I can almost 
always just hand over a flash drive or memory stick or SD card to my 
host or the AV guy; and the laptop or computer already installed in the 
room will have Adobe Reader, PowerPoint, and some usable variety of 
QuickTime, WMV, or other graphics software, ready to go, and everything 
will go fine.

Does Wolfram really think that every such facility is going to have 
Mathematica (or even Mathematica Player) installed in every one of their 
presentation rooms, any time in the foreseeable future?  I don't think 
so (and frankly hope not).

Rant mode off . . .

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