Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

A Preview of CDF on iPad

For 22 years, Wolfram Research has been developing technology to allow subject matter experts to bring their ideas and documents to life with interactivity. This week, as part of his keynote at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, Theodore Gray, Co-founder of Wolfram Research and Founder of Touch Press, gave the first demonstration of how we’re bringing the full power of our publishing systems to mobile devices.

Here’s a video excerpt of his announcement of the Computable Document Format (CDF) for iPad:

The announcement was part of Gray’s keynote address, “Meaningful Interactivity in a Mobile World,” in which he shared his experiences as a technology-minded author and discussed how the use of tools like Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha, and CDF allow non-programmers to create interactive content with unprecedented ease. Gray’s entire presentation is available to watch online as well.


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  1. Can you at least give us a timeframe? Is this 2 weeks, 2 months, or a year out still?

  2. Will CDF operate on pre-iPad 3 models?

  3. Great step !

    Will multitouch work with multiple locators or sliders ?
    What will be the publishing workflow from author to appstore ?
    Which restrictions will be made to mma on mobile device ?

  4. The video above appears to be an excerpt from a longer presentation last week. Theodore Gray’s full presentation from the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zISy9oC4b94 .

    Until watching that presentation, I had not realized that Wolfram Alpha Pro would generate CDF files on the fly and allow Pro users to download and embed those interactive simulations/visualizations elsewhere. Ted notes that such CDF files would be far more generic than could be created in full-blown Mathematica; he shows a quick customization of the alpha-generated CDF file. Once could call Wolfram Alpha Pro a breadboarding system (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breadboard ) for CDF files. The Alpha-generated output would be perfectly sufficient for many uses.

    @Adam: I have no idea when the CDF Player iPad app will appear; I’m just another enthusiast. I do know that the app appears to be ready very close to the announcement of the iPad 3 (rumored to be scheduled for 3/7/2012). Apple looks for knock-your-socks-off software demos to accompany product announcements; CDF demos would look gorgeous on a (rumored) iPad 3 retina display. If Wolfram were part of that (rumored) product announcement, they would be bound by a confidentiality agreement. The timing could just be a coincidence. We shall see.

    I do think that Wolfram could go much farther in using social media to champion the use of CDF files. How about twitter and FB accounts that run demonstration-of-the-week contests? I also think we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible in some kick-asymptote CDF demonstrations. It’s kinda like Steve Jobs’s vision of personal computers from the late 1970s: we’re finally poised to get the power and the beauty of mathematics to the masses!

  5. Is there any chance of an Android version?

  6. Cool! I actually have a use for an iPad now.

  7. @Eli: I have no inside information, but the webpage http://www.wolfram.com/cdf/adopting-cdf/supported-platforms.html shows CDF player as “coming soon” for the iPad and Android. I noticed that webpage back on October 8, 2011; the software has been “coming soon” for a long time!

  8. What’s the anticipated release date?

  9. This is going to be great. Please keep us updated.

  10. im waiting for the cdf for ipad

  11. Still waiting?!
    Over 12 months since announcement…

    Must be time for another announcement!

  12. So, two years later is there any information when and if this is coming to ios and hopefully android?

  13. Wolfram, please update! When will this be released?