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Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!

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  • Subject: [mg130797] Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!
  • From: Szabolcs Horvát <szhorvat at>
  • Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 02:56:32 -0400 (EDT)
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While some individual points are debatable, I also completely agree 
with David's main message.  Mathematica needs more focus, particularly 
some work on stability and robustness.  Even if it would come at a cost 
of new features (there are many features I'd like to see, but you can't 
have everything).

Re: "if I click in an existing Input cell and do a line return the 
Messages window opens with a contact WRI if this happens message"

This bug (on OS X) is really annoying when typing code in another 
language in a Mathematica string.  If will sometimes completely ruin 
the typed text if I press return several times while inside a string.  
It's a bit ironic that this bug appeared in the same release which 
brought us RLink (which I'm using these days, i.e. I'm typing a lot of 
R code inside Mathematica strings).

On 2013-05-12 07:28:34 +0000, djmpark said:
> (I've renamed this and started a new thread because my reply is not exactly
> to the question.)
> Oh, what a wonderful Wolfram blog! Earlier Stephen hinted at Mathematica as
> an iPhone app. Now it's data mining Facebook data (Gee I wonder if
> Zuckerberg has thought of that? He might be able to develop a great business
> model.) Can Twitter be far behind? There are many significant mathematical
> equations that will fit into 64 characters - or whatever the limit is.
> Ramanujan would probably have done well on Twitter. And women are more
> interested in personal relationships and men are more interested in sports?
> Who would have thought? The average person on Facebook has 342 friends! Well
> there are friends and there are friends. Montaigne wrote that his friendship
> with Etienne de La Bo=E9tie was such that "So many coincidences are needed to
> build [it up] that it is a lot if fortune can do it once in three
> centuries." One might say, ephemera in ephemera out.
> For the dwindling few of us who still have desktop computers and large
> screens, or maybe two large screens, who are interested in learning or doing
> some extended mathematics, and the even fewer who would like to write
> literate Mathematica notebooks as technical documents, I wonder if Stephen
> could find some time to attend to basic Mathematica, fixing its problems and
> fulfilling its vision?
> Mathematica lacks stability. Things that worked fine in one version don't
> work in the next. Especially troubling to me is the basic user interface.
> This got much worse in Version 9 with outright bugs that are in your face
> all the time. For example: often if I click in an existing Input cell and do
> a line return the Messages window opens with a contact WRI if this happens
> message. Or if one clicks after a word in a Text like cell and uses Ctrl+K
> for spell checking the message window again opens with a similar message. I
> like to use spell check a lot so this is especially annoying to me. I don't
> see why WRI couldn't have fixed these problems by now. (Or introduced an
> actually useful feature to spell check a selection such as a Text cell or a
> Section.)
> The Version 9 command completion feature, which used to be great, no longer
> works well. I have turned off the auto completion feature but what is left
> still does not work as well as the Version 8 behavior.  For example, if one
> types:
> Carm
> and then uses Ctrl+K to complete the command, there is only one choice,
> CarmichaelLambda. In Mathematica 8 the symbol would be automatically 
> completed and the cursor would be left at the end of the word. But now 
> it brings up a menu,
> even though there is only one choice, and one must click the menu. But you
> are not finished yet! No there is another menu (somewhat displaced so you
> may miss it), which is the equivalent of Ctrl+Shift+K and which we could
> have done if we wanted, so one must by-pass that by clicking at the end of
> CarmichaelLambda to get back to the normal typing entry. That's two extra
> clicks added. You might say that's not much, but when it's at the basic
> entry point for material in a notebook it is a lot.
> One has to wonder how many parsers there are in Mathematica for kernel,
> front end, packages, workbench and how their behavior shifts around between
> versions? Can one copy and paste an expression without its underlying
> representation changing? I suspect this may be a nagging underlying source
> of instability.
> I realize and appreciate that WRI continues to add new capabilities to
> Mathematica and this inevitably results in learning and stability problems.
> There could be better design efforts on these things and more professional
> testing so the designs would stick and work well.  Progress might be slower
> but it would be surer.
> Doing mathematics is not social media. It's not done that well on an iPad.
> And iPhone, iPad technology is not necessarily appropriate for Mathematica.
> People do not want to scroll two 25" screens with their hands. Just ask
> Microsoft.
> Mathematics and Mathematica are intrinsically difficult enough as it is.
> That makes it all the more important that WRI present users with a stable,
> robust, easy to use basic interface. WRI had not done the best job they
> could at this and not what one would expect for a relatively expensive
> product.
> David Park
> djmpark at
> From: r.b.nachbar at [mailto:r.b.nachbar at]
> I'm interested in making word cloud graphics, as demonstrated in the recent
> Wolfram Blog post
> (near
> the end of the post). Does anyone have a function that will do this?
> Thanks,
> Bob

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