March 11, 2008 — Christopher Carlson, Senior User Interface Developer, User Interfaces

Many new features in Mathematica are manifested in new functions with definite names, but some are not so prominent. You might miss one of the new features that I implemented for Mathematica 6.0.2—but it’s really useful, and so I thought I’d write about it here.

Let’s say you have a plot, or some other kind of graphic. You see something in the graphic—some special point—and you want to know where that is, what its (x, y) coordinates are.

In earlier versions of Mathematica, there were primitive ways to find this out. Now in Mathematica 6.0.2 there’s a nice, clean, general way to do it.

Open the Drawing Tools palette (from the Graphics menu, or by typing CTRL-d or CTRL-t). Choose the “Get Coordinates” tool at the upper right.

Click the crosshairs symbol on the Drawing Tools palette

Read More »

February 25, 2008 — Peter Overmann, Director of Software Technology

In my ten years at Wolfram Research, I’ve never seen so much software development activity. In the middle of last year, we had our biggest launch in a decade: Mathematica 6. Now there’s a huge pipeline of new development underway.

Some people are working on Mathematica 7; some people on Mathematica 8. We’re developing major new frameworks and we’re adding boatloads of new functions. But we’re also continuing to polish and strengthen everything that’s already in Mathematica.

We brought out Mathematica 6.0.1 last summer to add a variety of improvements that didn’t make it into 6.0.0. And we’ve now accumulated enough improvements that we’ve decided to release 6.0.2—which is being sent to Premier Service customers as of today.

Read More »

June 27, 2007 — Kelvin Mischo, Sales Engineer

As someone who works with university software groups to maintain Mathematica site licenses, I’m not surprised that Windows Vista compatibility is such a common topic of conversation. After all, this is the season for setting up computer labs for the upcoming academic year, and Windows is quite the popular platform.

What does surprise me is the tone of these conversations. The questions during Vista testing started pouring in during the spring and fall semesters, and continued this summer.

Inquiries have a slightly weary, mildly suspicious tone and start with questions like, “What’s the story with Mathematica on Vista?” Or, “When will Mathematica be compatible with Vista, and what limitations should we keep in mind?” A few schools even asked the exact same questions about compatibility twice in consecutive weeks!

Clearly a complicated answer is expected here.

But the answer, for Mathematica at least, has been very simple since Vista’s early-spring release.

Read More »

June 22, 2007 — Yu-Sung Chang, Technical Communication & Strategy

We can’t emphasize enough how important colors are in scientific visualization. Colors can convey the information which cannot be represented by geometry only. Sometimes, the data is just unreadable without proper colors in place. Most of all, colors can make graphics and plots more attractive and appealing.

In previous versions of Mathematica, it was not always easy to pick the right colors or color functions. Probably, you would end up playing with the values of RGBColor or Hue, which can be both tedious and time consuming.

During the development of Mathematica 6, we committed to change this situation. First off, we made–among dozens of newly added controls–a few specifically dedicated to color input.

Read More »

May 10, 2007 — Jon McLoone, International Business & Strategic Development

Wolfram Research is a place where “eating your own dogfood” is part of the culture. Most of us use Mathematica for our routine office administration tasks, documents, presentations, sales forecasting, etc.

I have been using Mathematica to analyze international sales data for 15 years now. It was through this activity that I think I can stake the claim to being the first real practical professional user of the new CountryData function.

It was time to present an analysis of sales figures at our annual Wolfram Reseller Conference in April to help our distributors understand where they are doing well and where they need to improve.

Comparing sales is difficult when one distributor has a large territory like Germany, and another a relatively small one like Romania. A couple of years ago, I started using economic gross domestic product (GDP) of the territory as a scale, but it is a pretty blunt tool–one might expect a small industrialized economy to outperform a large agricultural one.

This year, a new tool was in my hands: Mathematica 6.

Read More »