Where is the Mathematica Book in Documentation Center?

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Mark Adler

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May 14, 2007, 4:13:09 AM5/14/07
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The old help function was actually helpful.

Aside from the fact that I now need to know how to spell in order to
get help from the "Documentation Center", I can't find the good stuff
that used to be there. (Apparently you can use asterisk as a wild
card to help a little with the spelling thing.)

Most notably the Mathematica Book is missing in action. I used to be
able to simply read the book, chapter and verse, find references to
functions in several places in the book, and use the book's index.

Now I can't find any of that.

Also when I look at functions that are in packages, there is no
information or examples about how to load or depend on the package.
All I want to see is the relevant Get or Needs expression to be able
to use the function.

The information on functions now seems rather terse, with no real
explanations or decent examples. (Yes, I click on all the things I
can click on to see what's there.)

Another funny thing is that even though the Documentation Center
doesn't try to complete what you're typing like the old Help did,
typing in Documentation Center is monumentally slow! I can type much
faster than the text displays in the window. I then watch it fill in
what I typed. What's with that?

Overall, this seems like a horrible downgrade from the Help in 5.2.

Mark Adler


DrMajorBob

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May 15, 2007, 5:12:13 AM5/15/07
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The Mathematica Book is online at

http://documents.wolfram.com/mathematica/book/

Bobby

On Mon, 14 May 2007 02:49:32 -0500, Mark Adler <mad...@alumni.caltech.edu>
wrote:

--
DrMaj...@bigfoot.com

Murray Eisenberg

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May 16, 2007, 5:40:31 AM5/16/07
to
But that's the book for Mathematica 5.2. While a new user could still
learn a lot from it and, if using the printed form, get physical
exercise as well, one could quickly run into confusion if using 6.0.

--
Murray Eisenberg mur...@math.umass.edu
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts 413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street fax 413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

W. Craig Carter

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May 16, 2007, 5:47:40 AM5/16/07
to

Many things in Mathematica 6 are an improvement---I have to
agree that the documentation center is not one of them. I
often (and prefer to in many cases) work offline. Having the
Mathematica book while working on an airplane was very
useful.

However, I do appreciate the ability to create multiple
help-center windows.

WCC

>
> The Mathematica Book is online at
>
> http://documents.wolfram.com/mathematica/book/

Mark Adler

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May 16, 2007, 5:59:27 AM5/16/07
to
On May 15, 2:12 am, DrMajorBob <drmajor...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
> The Mathematica Book is online at
>
> http://documents.wolfram.com/mathematica/book/

But it's not in my computer, and that book is for 5.2. That's the
book that used to be part of the help in my machine. There I could
access any part of the book with blinding speed, and I could do it
wherever I happened to be. I often work in Mathematica while on the
plane.

It is a severe degradation in the resident documentation to delete the
book. Since I referred to the book often, to me it is a severe
degradation to Mathematica overall.

Are there plans to update the book for 6.0? Will I be able to
download the book? (I'll pay if I have to.) Will it integrate into
the "Documentation Center" search capability? That's what I need.

Mark


dimitris

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May 16, 2007, 6:10:35 AM5/16/07
to
But it talks about version 5.2 of course!

Has is got any changes to keep up with the new version?

Dimitris

=CF/=C7 DrMajorBob =DD=E3=F1=E1=F8=E5:


> The Mathematica Book is online at
>
> http://documents.wolfram.com/mathematica/book/
>

> Bobby


>
> On Mon, 14 May 2007 02:49:32 -0500, Mark Adler <mad...@alumni.caltech.edu>
> wrote:
>
> > The old help function was actually helpful.
> >

> > Aside from the fact that I now need to know how to spell in order to
> > get help from the "Documentation Center", I can't find the good stuff
> > that used to be there. (Apparently you can use asterisk as a wild
> > card to help a little with the spelling thing.)
> >
> > Most notably the Mathematica Book is missing in action. I used to be
> > able to simply read the book, chapter and verse, find references to
> > functions in several places in the book, and use the book's index.
> >
> > Now I can't find any of that.
> >
> > Also when I look at functions that are in packages, there is no
> > information or examples about how to load or depend on the package.
> > All I want to see is the relevant Get or Needs expression to be able
> > to use the function.
> >
> > The information on functions now seems rather terse, with no real
> > explanations or decent examples. (Yes, I click on all the things I
> > can click on to see what's there.)
> >
> > Another funny thing is that even though the Documentation Center
> > doesn't try to complete what you're typing like the old Help did,
> > typing in Documentation Center is monumentally slow! I can type much
> > faster than the text displays in the window. I then watch it fill in
> > what I typed. What's with that?
> >
> > Overall, this seems like a horrible downgrade from the Help in 5.2.
> >
> > Mark Adler
> >
> >
> >
>
>
>
> --

> DrMaj...@bigfoot.com


Philipp

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May 16, 2007, 6:33:54 AM5/16/07
to
The link http://documents.wolfram.com/mathematica/book/ points
to the version 5.2 of Mathematica Book, not 6.0.
Philipp.

> DrMajor...@bigfoot.com- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

David Bailey

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May 17, 2007, 6:08:02 AM5/17/07
to
Yes, indeed - please will Wolfram pull together the 6.0 documentation,
combine it with those parts of the 5.2 book that are still valid (most
of it) and create an up-to-date version of the Mathematica book! I
agree, that too many trees would be consumed to print the thing, so it
would only be available electronically. However it is necessary to have
well thought out continuous prose to put features into their correct
context.

David Bailey
http://www.dbaileyconsultancy.co.uk

Igor C. Antonio

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May 17, 2007, 6:32:26 AM5/17/07
to
Mark Adler wrote:
> The old help function was actually helpful.
>
> Aside from the fact that I now need to know how to spell in order to
> get help from the "Documentation Center", I can't find the good stuff
> that used to be there. (Apparently you can use asterisk as a wild
> card to help a little with the spelling thing.)

Hi Mark,

I'm not involved with the development of the Help Viewer, but do you
have examples of things you were able to find in V5.2 docs (Help
Browser) by typing that you weren't able to do so in the V6.0 docs (Help
Viewer)? I imagine that the team working on it would be interested in
seeing specific examples to try to improve the new system.

At first I didn't like the new help viewer, but that's because I knew
where everything was in the help browser and, you know, people overall
don't like changes. After a while, however, I warmed up to the viewer
and now I like it quite a bit more.

Forget for a moment that you know the browser and let's say you're not
very familiar with Mathematica, but you're trying to learn more about
plotting data.

In V5.2, searching for "plotting" yields:
--------------
Standard Packages
Plotting symbols, LabeledListPlot, Graphics`Graphics`
MultipleListPlot, Graphics`MultipleListPlot`
TextListPlot, Graphics`Graphics`

The Mathematica Book
Plotting symbols, drawing, Offset, 2.10.4
TextListPlot, 1.9.10
--------------

IMO, it's not the greatest list of results considering that the first
hyperlink is to Graphics`Graphics. In V6.0, the reaults are much, much
better...

--------------
Search Results 1 - 10 of 1001 for plotting

Plot (Built-in Mathematica Symbol)
Plot[f, {x, x_min, x_max}] generates a plot of f as a function of x from
x_min to x_max. Plot[{f_1, f_2, ...}, {x, x_min, x_max}] plots several
functions f_i.

Basic Plotting (Mathematica Tutorial)
Basic plotting functions. This plots a graph of sin(x) as a function of
x from 0 to 2\[Pi]. You can plot functions that have singularities.
Mathematica will try to choose ...

Plotting Options (Mathematica Guide)
With its core symbolic paradigm and immediate access to sophisticated
numerical, symbolic and geometric algorithms, Mathematica is able to
provide a uniquely flexible and ...

[various <something>Plot functions]

--------------

> Most notably the Mathematica Book is missing in action. I used to be
> able to simply read the book, chapter and verse, find references to
> functions in several places in the book, and use the book's index.
>
> Now I can't find any of that.

I believe that the contents of the book are now spread out throughout
Mathematica Guides (items listed under More About) and Mathematica
Tutorials (items listed under Tutorials) in the help viewer, but I'm not
sure. It's been a while since I looked through the V5.2 docs.

I do wish there was an index or table of contents for all the Guide and
Tutorial pages so that one could browse through them.

>
> Also when I look at functions that are in packages, there is no
> information or examples about how to load or depend on the package.
> All I want to see is the relevant Get or Needs expression to be able
> to use the function.

I also didn't find them at first, but take for example the Data
Visualization guide page:

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/guide/DataVisualization.html

I didn't look through all, but I clicked on the PieChart Package
documentation and it shows "Needs["PieCharts`"] at the top. Again, I
think it would be nice to have an index of all package documentation.

>
> The information on functions now seems rather terse, with no real
> explanations or decent examples. (Yes, I click on all the things I
> can click on to see what's there.)

I will have to disagree here. I huge effort was put into creating many
examples for each function in Mathematica (both old and new). I believe
that every single example was reviewed and if it didn't help demonstrate
how the function worked, it was thrown away. I know the V5.X docs had
some examples that showed "neat and crazy" Mathematica code rather than
help explain what the function did.

Examples now are also broken up into different sections: Basic Examples
, Scope, Generalizations & Extensions, Options, Applications, Properties
& Relations. They start by showing the most basic use of a function, go
on to discuss options and "things to keep in mind," and finally discuss
some more complex uses of a function. Take a look at Plot3D's entry:
there are 89 examples just for Plot3D.

The Guide pages and the pages for each function are meant to be used as
references and, I think, have the same language style as the Built-in
functions section of the V5.2 docs. The Tutorials in v6.0, however, are
much nicer to read and I even think use a simpler language than the
Mathematica Book in V5.2. Example:

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/tutorial/AdvancedDynamicFunctionality.html

>
> Mark Adler
>

Overall I'm very pleased with the new viewer, but there are certainly a
few things here and there that can be improved upon.

Igor


Igor C. Antonio
Wolfram Research, Inc.

To email me personally, remove the dash.

Mark Adler

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May 17, 2007, 6:39:52 AM5/17/07
to
Igor,

Thank you for your comments. I would like to do some comparisons of
the old and new help. So ...

Can 5.2 and 6.0 installations coexist on the same machine (within a
single instantiation of an operating system on that machine) and work
independently? If so, is there a way for me to download the 5.2
package again so I can reinstall it? (Like an idiot, I deleted the
old installation package once the new version appeared to be
working.) Then I can compare directly the help functions in each. I
don't want to make claims from my faulty memory about things that I
think were in the 5.2 help.

I was not in love with the 5.2 help -- there were a lot of things I
didn't like about it. (Having only one help window was one of them,
which is fixed in 6.0.) However what I found most useful were the
links into the Mathematica book, where I could read about not only
what I had asked about, but a bunch of other things in the vicinity,
some related, some not so related. And I would inevitably wander off
in the book and discover some other things I didn't know.
(Mathematica is like a sprawling urban development that grows much
faster than I can walk around to explore it.)

The book encouraged a new journey whenever I used the help. The
Documentation Center seems more like a very large collection of dead
ends and perhaps a few cul-de-sacs with some houses that you might
stumble upon.

I will try to provide some more detailed deficiencies if I can
somehow run 5.2 alongside 6.0 to compare.

Mark


Murray Eisenberg

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May 17, 2007, 6:43:54 AM5/17/07
to
You CARRIED the Mathematica book onto the airplane with you? You must
have been very strong or checked all your other baggage?

W. Craig Carter wrote:
> ... I often (and prefer to in many cases) work offline. Having the

> Mathematica book while working on an airplane was very
> useful.

--

Mark Adler

unread,
May 17, 2007, 6:57:10 AM5/17/07
to
Igor,

Here's an example.

One of the dead ends I ran into was the Documentation Center entry
for ToPackedArray (Developer/ref/ToPackedArray in the little window
at the top). Nothing in there told me what the actual name of the
package was, i.e. with an executable example showing the Get or a
Needs to access the function. There was no testable example at all.
Since the Needs["Developer`"] wasn't working, which is why I went to
help in the first place, I had reason to suspect that perhaps the
name had changed. The page does say DEVELOPER PACKAGE SYMBOL in fine
print at the top. But that's hardly a testable example of how to
access the function, and the name is wrong anyway, being all caps.

Looking for another way out, there were no links to anything covering
the Developer package itself. What else is in there? At the bottom
are links for only FromPackedArray, ByteCount, and Compress. Why
those? Why not PackedArrayQ? Uncompress? Why no link up to some
sort of overall description of the Developer package?

Poking around some more, I click on "Search for all pages containing
ToPackedArray". I see in the list "Developer Utilities Package".
Aha! I click on that. Now I get a list of what's in there. Still
no example of how to access those functions. In fact, none of the
functions in there have even one executable example when I click on
them one by one. I'm still wondering what I should use in Needs[].
Is the name Developer`? Developer`Utilities`?
Utilities`Developer`? None of the above?

In Documentation Center, it's all a mystery.

Mark


Jens-Peer Kuska

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May 18, 2007, 6:12:35 AM5/18/07
to
Hi Murray,

not only in the airplane -- the tram, the underground. I have it
with me every where. And yes, since the version 3.0 book came out
I make daily exercises and thanks to the Mathematica book
I got extrem thick upper arms. The new book would boost my
upper arm diamter by a factor of two, at least, *and* I would save
the subscription price for the fitness studio.

But what is to say against 4 books -- one introduction, one
with advanced mathematics, one for MathLink & J/Link and .Net Link
and a huge reference book.

In the old book I love the reference part -- just to keep informed
about the new functions and all the options of the functions.
The reference part gives me the overview over all functions that
is hard to get in the tree structure of the online help.

Regards
Jens

DrMajorBob

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May 18, 2007, 6:34:18 AM5/18/07
to
He carried it on his laptop hard drive, because the Book was part of Help.

Until version 6, that is.

Bobby

On Thu, 17 May 2007 05:16:15 -0500, Murray Eisenberg
<mur...@math.umass.edu> wrote:

> You CARRIED the Mathematica book onto the airplane with you? You must
> have been very strong or checked all your other baggage?
>
> W. Craig Carter wrote:
>> ... I often (and prefer to in many cases) work offline. Having the
>> Mathematica book while working on an airplane was very
>> useful.
>

--
DrMaj...@bigfoot.com

Chris Chiasson

unread,
May 18, 2007, 6:35:21 AM5/18/07
to
He must not be flying in America. Around here, the Mathematica book
would be considered a bludgeoning device. ;-]

On 5/17/07, Murray Eisenberg <mur...@math.umass.edu> wrote:
> You CARRIED the Mathematica book onto the airplane with you? You must
> have been very strong or checked all your other baggage?
>
> W. Craig Carter wrote:
> > ... I often (and prefer to in many cases) work offline. Having the
> > Mathematica book while working on an airplane was very
> > useful.
>
> --

> Murray Eisenberg mur...@math.umass.edu
> Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
> Lederle Graduate Research Tower phone 413 549-1020 (H)
> University of Massachusetts 413 545-2859 (W)
> 710 North Pleasant Street fax 413 545-1801
> Amherst, MA 01003-9305
>
>


--
http://chris.chiasson.name/

DrMajorBob

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May 18, 2007, 6:36:23 AM5/18/07
to
Amen.

On Thu, 17 May 2007 05:57:06 -0500, Mark Adler <mad...@alumni.caltech.edu>
wrote:

> Igor,

--
DrMaj...@bigfoot.com

Igor C. Antonio

unread,
May 18, 2007, 6:41:55 AM5/18/07
to
Mark Adler wrote:
> Igor,
>
> Thank you for your comments. I would like to do some comparisons of
> the old and new help. So ...
>
> Can 5.2 and 6.0 installations coexist on the same machine (within a
> single instantiation of an operating system on that machine) and work
> independently? If so, is there a way for me to download the 5.2
> package again so I can reinstall it? (Like an idiot, I deleted the
> old installation package once the new version appeared to be
> working.) Then I can compare directly the help functions in each. I
> don't want to make claims from my faulty memory about things that I
> think were in the 5.2 help.

Yes, they can co-exist. I have all versions of Mathematica installed
since 4.2, for example. You do have to keep in mind where you install
your packages: A package that is only compatible with V5.2 and earlier,
when installed in $UserBaseDirectory/Applications/, will be available to
both V6.0 as well. Same applies to things in $UserBaseDirectory/Autoload.

As far as how to actually install V5.2 again, you will have to contact
Technical Support to obtain a copy of the installation disc / files if
you don't have one.

Disclaimer: I don't know much about the licensing details of running
both V5.2 and V6.0, so check with them.

Thanks,


Igor

--
Igor C. Antonio
Software Technology

David Bailey

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May 18, 2007, 6:46:22 AM5/18/07
to
Murray Eisenberg wrote:
> You CARRIED the Mathematica book onto the airplane with you? You must
> have been very strong or checked all your other baggage?
>
> W. Craig Carter wrote:
>> ... I often (and prefer to in many cases) work offline. Having the
>> Mathematica book while working on an airplane was very
>> useful.
>
I suspect he is referring to the electronic copy buried inside 5.2, but
years ago, I read portions of the actual book in bed each night before
going to sleep!

Reading an actual book just feel different and there are no
distractions. Above all, the book put all the features into context
because you could read about functions in the order that Stephen Wolfram
meant you to read them.

The new help system is OK for experienced users, but I am not sure I
would like to pick up Mathematica from scratch that way.

David Bailey
http://www.dbaileyconsultancy.co.uk

Paul

unread,
Jun 23, 2007, 7:37:46 AM6/23/07
to
On 2007-05-17 12:08:02 +0200, David Bailey
<dave@Remove_Thisdbailey.co.uk> said:

I second all of this. Whilst the new help system is an improvement
when used as reference guide, it is abysmal as any kind of overview or
tutorial on Mathematica. If I was starting from scratch with
Mathematica now, I don't think I would ever be able to get into it.
The guide, IMHO, needs two additional features: a) a logical "table of
contents" which would allow be to see at a glance the overall features
of Mathematica and the help on them; b) a few tutorial threads (much
like Sun provide on their Java pages) which I could follow that would
take me from complete novice through to guru.

Paul


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