Date: May 19, 2013 5:46 AM
Author: Roland Franzius
Subject: Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!

Am 18.05.2013 08:38, schrieb Murray Eisenberg:

> On May 17, 2013, at 4:35 AM, Fred Simons <> wrote:

>> Last Tuesday I gave a course on interactivity in Mathematica.
>> Mathematica 9 was running on 7 platforms. On at least 5 of them
>> Mathematica had to be restarted during the course because of it started
>> showing incorrect output. When things like this happen, I cannot
>> recommend Mathematica to a potential new user.

> I think we would all like to know just what sort of input was giving such problems, and on exactly which OS platforms.

Some of us may know all about these facts.

In a course, it will need about three weeks until everybody has learned
that the Mathematica kernel doesn't forgive or forget.

Another question was always, how to let people work on the same shared
working dirctory in a course.

Better first teach them to copy everything to an own home directory and
make a copy to an archiv folder before you start.

In Linux environments we never managed to conserve a stable environment,
especially with respect to fonts. Since every Linux user needs a
software repair assistant, we gave up.

But now, heaving held courses in Mathematical Physics since 1995 under
the realistic experimental title "Mathematica Laboratory" here are some
simple points.

For beeing rated as a really good and easy to handle instruction and
evaluation test system, Mathematica has to come with, at least, three
important innovations

1: in place execution of a Clear command by colouring a definition
head and execute a right click

2: a shortcut for shutting down and restarting the kernel and for
executing intializition cells again

3: saving automatically the text history of the current notebook before
evaluations and during the complete editing procedd, for the text part.
Every known text or graphics systems has an editing stack with Undo and

But task 3: would perhaps require separation of text and formatting
parts in notebooks.

On the other hand, why not, at least, automatically saving a parallel
text.m version? Or just the complete notebook without output.

Sometimes now since Windows 7, a mostly self animated cursor corrupts
text, jumping in the middle of typing to a random position somewhere and
there is chance zero to restore a working text version together with the
editing, done before the typing error occurs.

For point 2: I always added a MenuKey Entry in the Windows
TextResources file, but now, the different versions of
Mathematica cannot share the user-edited initialization files any more.

I don't want to complain here about:

Missing language support

Useless Find and Replace.

You cannot even search for the extended character set using escape input
or by highlighting a string without using copy and paste.

Sometimes, if things grow too difficult to transfer to newer
implemetations I save the text as an .m file, open it in Word or WinEdt
and replace things using the procedures we know from TeX.

Of course, when you have managed to use Export und Import and
RegularExpressions in Mathematica you can handle complex editing
yourself. But to learn programming an editor, on the other hand, needs
some years experience.

For beginners, complex editing should be as easy as using the little
Find and Replace applet in text processors.


Roland Franzius