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Re: Mathematica 8 & reports / books
In article <if70av$32i$1 at smc.vnet.net>, Murray Eisenberg <murray at math.umass.edu> wrote: > However, "Mathematica Navigator" is not a good buy for Mathematica 8: it > was written for Mathematica 6 (with what would seem like last-minute > add-ons to bring things up-to-date for Mathematica 7). And it explicitly > warns, "Because version 6 differs so much from earlier versions, this > book cannot practically be used with older versions...." That's from > the 2009 Third Edition; is there a newer one? > > Also, what the section "Acknowledgments" near the end of the Preface > says about producing the book from Mathematica is minimal: each chapter > was a separate notebook; the notebooks were joined by the Authortools > package; and the index (and the HelpBrowser version of the book) were > generated also using AuthorTools. > > Moreover, so far as I can tell, the AuthorTools package no longer works > with Mathematica 8. At least when I try to create a new project after > specifying its name, target directory, and selected files in the target > directory, I keep getting an error message (which is truncated in the > error window that opens). Murray, I think most everything you've said above strongly reinforces my continuing opinion that the basic concept of using Mathematica as _both_ (a) a tool for doing analysis, numerical computation, and creation of graphics (tasks at which it's great!) _and_ (b) the same tool for publishing re-purposable or publication-quality documents from these results, is a foolish and destructive endeavor. You'll note that Heikki -- surely a Mathematica guru, if there ever was one -- didn't choose to produce his book _directly and completely from notebook form_, but chose to employ some secondary tools, and generally some "hand-processing" steps, from the the "calculate" stage to the "publish" stage -- and once you're going to make this break between the two stages, you might as well make it complete, and use separate and optimized tools in the two stages. There's also the instructive lesson that "so far as I can tell, the AuthorTools package no longer works with Mathematica 8". That's not the only auxiliary Mathematica tool or utility that's ceased working between versions of Mathematica, right? (and in several cases, with no formal announcement from Wolfram, right?) (I have to ask these as questions, because I never trusted that these auxiliary tools would continue working in the long run, and so never invested -- i.e., lost or wasted -- any time in learning them.) Suppose Mathematica focused its basic design -- its syntax, its notebook format, its user interface, its whole structure -- on the symbolic analysis, numerical computation, graphics creation, and Manipulation parts of its mission, which it does so well, and included directly in Mathematica only just enough added publication or results-displaying or formatting capabilities to make its results reasonably displayable on screen to its users? Notebooks could still be printed to PDF for class notes, handouts, rough-and ready reports or memos, using the already available print-to-PDF capabilities in most computers. Results could be displayed to classes or seminars or other audiences just by displaying your laptop screen to whatever projector was at hand. And an immense amount of formatting clutter and confusion and learning (and publishing!) difficulty could be removed and separated entirely from a still improving but more stable and learnable (and documentable!) Mathematica. And then after this, instead of a (failed?) toolset like AuthorTools (failed in part because it had to be written in Mathematica?), Wolfram might provide a new and totally separate Author Tool that would convert any standard Mathematica notebook (as viewed on screen, or as a file) to a standard LaTex document. This new Author Tool could be written not in Mathematica but in some other language suited to its task. And, Mathematica users who wanted publication quality output could then themselves, or with editorial assistance, touch up the LaTeX source file produced by this new Author Tools, using a TeX application designed for just that task. Finally, Heikki's book, even with its limitations, seems to be about the only independently authored book about Mathematica available on amazon that's reasonably good, comprehensive, and more or less up to date for M7. Does that say something important about the real market penetration of Mathematica in the broad educational and "general user" worlds? Or does it say that Mathematica's built-in documentation is so good that no supplemental books are wanted or needed? I guess my view on this is pretty clear . . .