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Re: Mathematica 8 & reports / books

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg115041] Re: Mathematica 8 & reports / books
  • From: Armand Tamzarian <mike.honeychurch at gmail.com>
  • Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2010 05:57:34 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <if1o2q$p54$1@smc.vnet.net> <201012250734.CAA13605@smc.vnet.net>

On Dec 29, 12:08 am, AES <sieg... at stanford.edu> wrote:
> In article <if70av$32... at smc.vnet.net>,
>  Murray Eisenberg <mur... 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.


We'd need to know the extent that this was dictated by the publisher
before drawing conclusions. Publishers will rarely accept notebooks so
a writer becomes compelled to use other or additional tools in order
to conform to the publishers requirements.

If you're writing your own (not for commercial publication) document
then Mathematica is a good tool IMO ...provided you use windows and can take
advantage of the bibliography tools for documents that are heavily
referenced. If you're not on windows forget about it if you are making
a document that has many references.



>
> 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.)


yes this (the lack of announcement or information) is disappointing. A
search of the version 8 documentation doesn't give any information and
the old package doesn't seem to be in the library archive either ...in
other words the code base doesn't seem to be available for the
interested user to re-write their own version. (if that is incorrect
can someone point to a source?)



>
> 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.


Good idea (the seamless conversion).

>
> 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 . . .


Because the market (Mathematica user base) is so small compared to other
software products the desire for publishers to produce Mathematica titles is
probably much lower than for other products. Just a question of
economics. And then the follow up is how do you deliver the manuscript
to the publisher. I know when I had a book contract with Oxford
University Press it was going to be just too difficult to invest time
to give them a Word manuscript so we parted ways and I self published.
(The enormity/difficulty of the task of converting a few hundred Mathematica 
pages to Word only hit home once I began to attempt it.)

Mike


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