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Re: How to write reports and books in Mathematica

I agree with Alexei.
This is the most disappointing part in using M. for teaching and publishing.
Is there a bulletproof way for protecting the nb files from corruption?

On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 6:37 AM, Alexei Boulbitch
<alexei.boulbitch at>wrote:

> Dear David,
> I would like to comment on your following statement:
> "At the present time, the single most serious problem with writing reports
> and books in Mathematica is that people who do not have Mathematica can't
> easily read them."
> I believe that I faced a more serious problem that prevents a broad using
> of Mathematica for creation
> and keeping documentation. Namely, already several times (to be more
> precise, about 5 to 6)
> the notebooks I have created appeared corrupted and impossible to repair.
> This year I prepared a course of uni lectures totally using Mathematica
> including notebooks
> with the lecture drafts and notebooks with demonstrations. It was fun and
> pleasure to use such a tool
> for this purpose, the feeling that I believe I share with you. However, you
> can imagine my disappointment
> when I have found out that several months after their creation some of
> these files I cannot be open any more,
> while some others I can open, but this only leads to a computer hang up. It
> happened with about 5 files
> out of several tens, but still each of them required a lot of my time.
> Especially strong is this disappointment,
> since I am going to give this course several times in future.
> OK, I have several machines and keep these notebooks on every of them, so
> things are not that dramatic
> in my personal case. I have really completely lost only few of those files
> (though even this is no fun at all).
> However, I think that this lack of stability is the most serious problem of
> the program preventing its future
> propagation and should be seriously addressed.
> Indeed, what will a person do, if he loses an important document due to
> such instability of Mathematica?
> Assume that this person is not a Mathematica fun (as both of us are), but
> only wants to use it as a comfortable
> and powerful tool. And what, if it happens just an hour before he is going
> to present the document to his boss,
> or to shareholders of the enterprise he works in, or to his bank?
> What will I do, if the day of the lecture (that I believe is ready) I find
> that I cannot open the corresponding file?
> I think the answer is unique: such a person will never use Mathematica any
> more (at least for creation
> of documentation or of presentations).
> There is a second problem about Mathematica, which I classify as less
> serious, but still very unpleasant.
> Rather often it informs that the system made a heavy error and will close
> without saving. We know that other
> programs like for instance, Word also exhibit sometimes this nice trick.
> However, my personal feeling is that
> Mathematica  makes it considerably more often. Of coarse one can overcome
> this problem by a personal discipline
> by often saving notebook one works on. Therefore, I classify this problem
> as a secondary one though still important.
> I place these notes in a strong hope that these problems may be fixed by
> Wolfram in future Mathematica versions.
> Best regards, Alexei
> David Park wrote:
> Per,
> This can be approached at different levels.
> First, I'm not familiar with the capabilities and pricing of the various
> versions of Mathematica but, if you can manage it and plan to do a lot of
> technical work, get up to date with the latest version and keep up to date.
> There is a world of difference between Version 7 and Version 5. The
> dynamics
> and improved graphics extend the ability to communicate by an order of
> magnitude - or more.
> At the present time, the single most serious problem with writing reports
> and books in Mathematica is that people who do not have Mathematica can't
> easily read them. There is PlayerPro but that cost about $200 and few
> people
> will pay that just to read your paper or report. The free Player is a
> partial solution but it is very restricted. You have to send it through
> some
> process at WRI, you can't use an independent package with it, and you can't
> write custom dynamics but are restricted to the single Manipulate
> statement.
> I'm hoping that WRI will come up with a better solution to this, something
> like the free Acrobat reader. We'll have to wait and see. You can "print" a
> notebook as a PDF but that loses all the dynamics.
> Other than that, Mathematica offers capabilities as a technical development
> and communication medium that are far beyond present practice with static
> media. I would even consider it as a new field, ripe for development. We
> have a lot to learn on how to use the new capabilities Mathematica gives
> us.
> You can easily add titles, subtitles, sections, subsections and text cells
> to your notebooks. Each of these is a cell style. These are defined in the
> various style sheets that Mathematica uses for the notebooks - for example,
> the Default style sheet. I forget on which Menu item it occurs in Version
> 5,
> but there is a Show Toolbar option that will add a toolbar at the top of
> your notebook. It has a drop-down menu for starting various cell types. You
> can also use Menu, Format, Style to see the various cell styles, and this
> listing also gives the shortcut keys for those styles that have them.
> Many users use Mathematica simply as a "programmable super graphical
> calculator", without any sectional structure, but my opinion is that it is
> much better to write notebooks as literate documents with structure and
> plenty of textual explanation.
> At a higher level you can use Workbench in conjunction with Mathematica to
> write Applications that might contain a book, ancillary packages, and
> documentation that ties it all together. Once you get it set up, you can do
> most of your mathematical development and writing in the regular
> Mathematica
> environment and only go to Workbench when you want to put material into a
> "finished" form. This is a very good way to organize and preserve your work
> in an active usable form, and to present it to other Mathematica users.
> Roger Williams has done two YouTube videos on Mathematica as the latest
> medium for technical communication. He traces over three millennia of
> technical communication and illustrates all the advantages of the active,
> dynamic medium that Mathematica is. (He had posted a version of this on
> MathGroup earlier, but this is a new and much improved version.)
> David Park
> djmpark at
> <>
> From: "Per R=F8nne" [mailto:per at RQNNE.invalid]
> I am the not quote happy owner of Mathematica Teacher's Edition [it
> doesn't work on Snow Leopard] and I do now see a future need to write
> reports / books using Mathematica - though of course I would then have
> to purchase a new version like Mathematica Home Edition at ==A3195.
> I do know that all of the Mathematica documentation is written in
> Mathematica itself. But nowhere in this documentation do I see how to
> enter ordinary text or chapter titles in a Mathematica notebook.
> I have an MSc degree and teach in the Danish 3-year Sixth Form College
> for the 16-19-year-olds. After the summer vacation next year I am to
> take an extra BSc degree in Physics and Astronomy and this is where I
> will need the ability to write reports in Mathematica, including text,
> formulas and graphics.
> So I am even considering to wait with the purchase of a new Mathematica
> - after all the I've got version 5 from 2003, the present version is 7
> and version 8 might have come then.
> And - I don't even see anything particularly about the issue in Stephen
> Wolfram's "The Mathematica Book 5th Edition". With 1,500 pages. Only a
> few hints.
> --
> Per Erik R==F8nne
> Errare humanum est, sed in errore perseverare turpe

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