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Re: New Mathematica file format .cdf; what is it?

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  • Subject: [mg115794] Re: New Mathematica file format .cdf; what is it?
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2011 04:29:44 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 20 Jan 2011 06:32:34 -0500 (EST), dr DanW wrote:
> Mathematica 8 has a new save option: Save As Mathematica Notebook
> (*.cdf).  Anybody know what this is?  It's an ASCII file, looks a lot
> like a normal .nb file.  There is some kind of signature at the bottom
> that is different, though.
> Daniel

There hasn't been much discussion about this yet because the Mathematica 8-based
Player hasn't released yet (it will real soon).  But this is basically a
rebranding/rethinking of the publish-for-Player concept.  This feature in
Mathematica allows you to directly create/save/deploy interactive documents that
will be readable not only by other Mathematica users, but also by anybody with
the new Player product installed.

This means that the "Publish for Player" part of the Wolfram website will become
obsolete (but we'll keep it around for v7 users).  You'll now be able to
"publish for Player" directly from Mathematica, by simply choosing to work in a
CDF document (either File->New->CDF, or choosing to save an existing notebook as

There's a lot more which could be said about this, and will be in the near
future when the new Player is released.  When that happens, I'll make sure that
some announcement is made on this forum.  I don't really want to repeat very
much of what is going to be said through official channels soon.

But I will answer one question which might come up...why don't we just do this
with all notebooks?  There are good reasons to keep signed, Player-deployable
content and unsigned, Mathematica-only content separate and easily
distinguishable (i.e. as .nb vs. .cdf).  One of the important ones to some
people in this group is that the signing/verifying process can add real and
unavoidable overhead to working with very large notebooks.


John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

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