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Re: [Axiom-developer] A Canonical Axiom GUI

From: Gabriel Dos Reis
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] A Canonical Axiom GUI
Date: 07 Sep 2006 16:24:48 -0500

C Y <address@hidden> writes:


| It takes enough time and energy to evaluate a tool such as Axiom in a
| non-trivial way that the motivation to do so must be extreme.  (How
| many people here have seen a sub-optimal tool used simply because
| people already knew it and thought it would be faster to use that tool
| instead of learn one they knew might be better?)

does Windows count as a tool? :-)

| For serious research, this may not be a problem.  Axiom has a very
| strong foundation, and there are very probably lots of projects where
| the time spent learning Axiom will pay off well enough to motivate
| people to learn it, GUI or not.  Many more, however, will not be that
| motivated.
| I would personally prefer that there exist a GUI for Axiom that is
| designed by the same people who are intimately familiar with the system
| itself, and (for example) might be able to teach a graphical
| environment to associate type information with graphical behavior in
| the GUI.  (Imagine, for example, a GUI that would let someone drag a
| polynomial into an integration template but would refuse a matrix as an
| incompatible type.  Or a formula template for ballistic motion that
| would reject anything with the wrong type in its slots.  The visual
| display may or may not contain all of the important information for the
| user, but a GUI working with the type system itself could be far more
| intelligent.)  My guess is 3rd party graphical systems are not likely
| to be interested in this type of work, preferring instead to simply use
| Axiom as a mathematical engine to get answers to common problems.  
| I think it would be desirable for people who download and install
| Axiom, when they type "axiom" or click their Axiom icon, to have a GUI
| environment available that is similar in concept to the Maple and
| Mathematica environments, but perhaps with more or different
| functionality.  Our "first impression" with potential users is what
| they see when they start the program, and I would personally like there
| to be a smooth, polished, and professional GUI as our first foot
| forward.
| Of course, someone would need to create such an environment, and code
| always speaks louder than emails.  I have looked at these issues a
| little bit and will attempt to pursue them further, but I know the
| problem is significant.  I guess it boils down to this:
| 1.  I think a default GUI for Axiom would be a Very Good Thing
| 2.  The project is not yet a a point where this should be a major focus
| for the project as a whole.
| 3.  The work to make Axiom more friendly to ALL GUIs should be more
| important, because it will be useful to a very broad spectrum of
| applications.  (Indeed, even the command prompt probably should work
| off of the same API some day.)
| 4.  Code counts more than opinions, so I'll be quiet until I have more
| of the former ;-).
| Cheers,
| CY
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                                                        Gabriel Dos Reis
        Texas A&M University -- Department of Computer Science
        301, Bright Building -- College Station, TX 77843-3112

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