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Re: How to write a "proper" math document

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg120008] Re: How to write a "proper" math document
  • From: "McHale, Paul" <Paul.McHale at>
  • Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2011 05:10:38 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <>

Looking at Mathematica's admitted origins as an authoring tool for Stephen Wolfram to publish his books, it's stronger points become evident.  It works very well in the individual experiment, document and "publish" mode.  Publish here meaning the document is indistinguishable from a PDF with static data, no interaction.  A book.  I will likely stay in the standard flow of experiment, document and publish.  As we can see from the exchanges of emails, this path is sufficiently difficult to do well.  Stephen just makes it look easy :)

I think there are three levels of sharing (at least).  Static data, dynamic/interactive documents and what would traditionally be called stand alone programs (Java, C#...). 

Interactive documents seem to be a limited by corporate security more than technology.  I.e. If Mathematica were open source/free, this would be closer to a non-issue.  This is not practical.  I am just trying to isolate the underlying issue.  To accomplish dynamic documents, the readers need to be better secured (no keyboard input?), more obvious to the anti-Mathematica crowd (user) and easier to proliferate ($$$).  Since the developer and the user share the same interface, the interface of the reader may want to have features disabled and separate menu items for execution.  I.e. "Run" button in place of CTRL-A, Shift-Enter.

Stand alone programs also require the use of the developer interface.  I can tell from the posts here Mathematica has become a programming environment as well where we complete complex tasks that would have been traditionally implemented in Python, Java or C#.  If we share our notebooks with another Mathematica developers, this is fantastic since other developers already use the same interface.  The question is how do we share such functionality with users?  Without a GUI to separate the "user" from the "developer interface", this task is quite difficult.

To fill the expanding roles, maybe WRI needs to consider alternate interfaces.  Maybe a GUI centric interface for distribution of programs.  This is how Microsoft does .Net.  Instead of WRI readers there could be a WRI runtime engine and an "EXE" that is distributed.

I wonder where WRI derives income from?  My guess would be commercial sales.  If this were 90% of the income, make Mathematica free to all educational institutions.  Maybe research institutions as well.  The further proliferation of Mathematica is likely to drive more commercial sales which could yield a net increase in income (in time).

The more I use Mathematica, the more I don't want to be without it.  I also believe proliferation is a very good thing in the bigger picture.  I would love to write interactive documents or distribute standalone programs.  It just isn't in the immediate cards. 


Paul McHale  |  Electrical Engineer, Energetics Systems  |  Excelitas Technologies Corp.

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-----Original Message-----
From: dr DanW [mailto:dmaxwarren at]
Sent: Monday, July 04, 2011 6:44 AM
To: mathgroup at
Subject: [mg120008] Re: How to write a "proper" math document

Pulling back from the meta-issue of literate engineering, this is the second time in as many months the topic of hiding cells for publishing documentation has come up in this forum.  I think I will experiment a little with using cell tags to mark cells for hiding (closing) so switching between the development and publishing layout is just a button click.  If I come up with something I am happy with, I'll post it under a new thread.


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