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Re: Cell["\<\ ... \>", ... ; TextData[...]

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  • Subject: [mg114785] Re: Cell["\<\ ... \>", ... ; TextData[...]
  • From: kj < at>
  • Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 03:27:55 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <iecr3r$bnb$>

John, Albert, thanks for the info.  Very useful.

In <iecr30$bn0$1 at> Albert Retey <awnl at> writes:

>Instead of these cryptic forms you can almost
>everywhere use the explicit Boxes-expressions, so I wonder why you are
>interested in these?

Well, the simplest answer to that is that, in general, for all x,
if I don't know at all what x is, I have no way of knowing whether
x is something that would be useful (or harmful) to me.

A less flippant answer is this: even though I've been using
Mathematica on and off since the late 80s, I am still *routinely*
puzzled by its behavior.  Not "a little puzzled", mind you, but
*utterly and absolutely mystified*, at least once, usually multiple
times per Mathematica sesssion.  And I've spent countless of
frustrating hours trying to figure out some bewildering bug in my
Mathematica code.  I happen to be quite familiar with several
programming languages and computing environments, and Mathematica
is the only one for which I have this problem after such a long
acquaintance.  Therefore, I can't ascribe my difficulties with
Mathematica to my general stupidity, but to the fact that Mathematica
is basically an undocumented box of mysteries.  What passes for
"documentation" in Mathematica is, in my opinion, just a few
carefully chosen scraps flung to us by Wolfram to keep appearances.
This is a longwinded explanation for why, over the years, I've
developed what can only be described as paranoia over anything that
the Mathematica documentation chooses to gloss over, based on the
belief (borne out of painful experience) that some time-devouring
bug in the future could hinge on one of these undocumented details.

I have already given up hope that Wolfram will document Mathematica
properly, but I still cling to the hope that someday I'll learn
the internal rationale for their "documentation" policies.  That
remains for me the biggest mystery of all.


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