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Compare/contrast Wolfram|One, Development Platform, Mathematica Online, etc

Posted 5 years ago
31 Replies
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Can somebody give a succinct comparison of the features of the various products: Mathematica, Mathematica Online, Wolfram|One, Wolfram Development Platform, Wolfram Cloud, Wolfram Data Drop.

I find differentiating so many similar products — especially those manifestly cloud-based — rather confusing.

POSTED BY: Murray Eisenberg
31 Replies

Hi Murray

Mathematica is our legacy desktop product, best used in combination with Mathematica Online. Premier Service Plus can be added to Mathematica and provides support + home-use + Mathematica Online. This would easily enable deployments, sharing, and publishing from desktop to cloud.

Wolfram|One is our newest product, and is intended to provide an entry point to the Wolfram Language, particularly for commercial users. It is a hybrid product, in that it offers a desktop and cloud interface under one license. Feature wise, Mathematica and Wolfram|One are very similar right now. We are planning for Wolfram|One to become our base product for non-Mathematica audiences, and build upon it for specific use cases. (Data Science, Publishing, etc.)

The Wolfram Cloud is not a product, you cannot purchase it. Wolfram Cloud is the infrastructure that enables all of our Cloud products and services. Data Drop is a service that utilizes the Wolfram Cloud for data accumulation. It is not a product, it is a service that can be used in combination with any Cloud connected product.

Finally, the Wolfram Development Platform was our first product utilizing the Wolfram Cloud. It is primarily a cloud product, accessed via the web. The licensing (and free entry points) is designed for software/app development and experimentation.

I hope this was helpful. Our Sales team could talk through your individual goals and needs to ensure you find the right path. Please email or contact them through this form -

Thank you for your interest! Clayton Voyles Wolfram Research

POSTED BY: Clayton Voyles

This is still as clear as mud!

What, exactly, is the difference between:

  1. Mathematica with Premier Service Plus (which gives access to Mathematica Online), on the one hand; and
  2. Wolfram|One, on the other hand?????

I'm not interested in the history, just what exactly, are the differences?

POSTED BY: Murray Eisenberg

Hi Murray

Mathematica with PS+ provides the same base capabilities as Wolfram|One. Desktop client, web access, and cloud resources. Obviously there are licensing differences, though, depending on the edition/plan. That dictates commercial vs. non-commercial usage, cloud storage, cloud credits, etc.

POSTED BY: Clayton Voyles

What do you mean by "base capabilities"? Does that mean the same functionality except with respect to commercial vs. non-commercial usage, cloud storage, cloud credits ( and what's that "etc")?

POSTED BY: Murray Eisenberg

Yes. Notebook interface and the kernel.

Etc. = et cetera. There are many other limits such as the number of kernels for desktop, or the evaluation time limit on the cloud. They are listed on the pricing page -

Our Sales team could talk through your individual goals and needs to ensure you find the right product for your needs. Please email or contact them through this form -

POSTED BY: Clayton Voyles

Yes, I know what "etc" is an abbreviation for!

Just to get at long last what will be -- I hope! -- a definitive, clear, and complete answer....

The only differences between Mathematica with Premier Plus Service, on the one hand, and Wolfram|One, on the other hand are with respect to licensing terms and limits (commercial vs. non-commercial use, number of kernels, evaluation time and space, storage, credits, etc.)?

If that's so, why on earth can't anybody simply say that?? Why make things so obscure and unclear??

Note that you have a genuine marketing problem if WRI cannot say simply, clearly, and unambiguously what differentiates its cloud-related products! Right not it does not.

POSTED BY: Murray Eisenberg

"The only differences between Mathematica with Premier Plus Service, on the one hand, and Wolfram|One, on the other hand are with respect to licensing terms and limits (commercial vs. non-commercial use, number of kernels, evaluation time and space, storage, credits, etc.)?"

Yes, you are correct. Mathematica with Premier Service Plus is equal to W|O, assuming you are talking like editions/plans.

It is confusing and a big goal for this year is vastly simplifying it. Thank you for your feedback.

POSTED BY: Clayton Voyles

It would be really useful to have a comparison page on the Wolfram site that lists Wolfram|One and Mathematica, the same way that I can compare a macBook Pro and an iMac on the Apple website.

Other than the fact that Wolfram|One is subscription only, I can see no difference in the products.

I notice that Stephen Wolfram seems to use Wolfram Desktop a lot in his presentations when he is talking about Mathematica, so as far as desktop functionality is concerned, there cannot be any difference.

When Wolfram|One was first released, I thought that it was a simple rebranding of Mathematica. After all, Mathematica has expanded well beyond its original purpose -- "A system for Doing Mathematics by Computer", as the subtitle of the original Mathematica book states. Whether or not it would make marketing sense to unify the products under the new name is problematic. As a long-time user since version 1, I would have no problem with the renaming, but almost 30 years of mostly free publicity is hard to give up.

What I find odd is that various Wolfram Research offerings do not play well together. For example, my premier service plus plan for Mathematica does not give me access to the Wolfram Programming Lab or the Wolfram Development platform, even though I already have all the functionality. (Some of the UI features of the Programming lab are useful when trying to teach newbies, for example.)

I prefer to 'own' the software, rather than renting it, and the latter seems to be the only option for Wolfram|One. For a professional user, one is paying a yearly fee of about half the outright purchase price for Mathematica, so if one is using the program more than two or three years, it is less expensive to buy Mathematica and purchase Premier Service every year than to continue with an annual fee. I see that there is an annual subscription for Mathematica, which is almost exactly the same price as the subscription for Wolfram|One.

I did a quick check of the pricing for the home use/personal use, and the benefits are exactly the same. The subscription price is exactly the same as well. So, you can pay a bit more to buy Mathematica initially, and have a lower annual cost for each subsequent year, or rent the software. I hadn't looked at this pricing before because I have an Industry license, and there are more options with this.

So, the real question remains: what is special about Wolfram|One, compared to Mathematica? If you use the subscription model for Mathematica, I can see no difference between the two. The advantage of Mathematica for me is that the yearly cost of ownership is substantially less with the outright purchase of Mathematica plus Premier Service Plus, and would be for a new user as well.

I did talk about this matter with my account manager when Wolfram|One was released, and he could not find any difference in the products, other than the licensing model. However, he was probably looking only at the Industry license (which I have), and not at the other user categories.

To conclude, as far as I can tell, the only difference between Wolfram|One and Mathematica, other than the name, is the fact that Wolfram|One is available only as an annual subscription, while Mathematica can also be purchased outright. With the current pricing schemes, the only relevant consequence of this is that the cost of 'ownership' is significantly less for Mathematica (purchase plus Premier Service Plus) if the program is kept up-to-date for more than two years. (This break-even point may vary a bit by user-type, but it is close enough.)

The one remaining nagging detail that the marketing pages do not cover is the explicit statement that all the features and functionality of the Wolfram Language are equally supported. This is of concern because other Wolfram Research products: Data Science Platform, Finance Platform, and System Modeler differentiate themselves by offering additional functionality not provided with Mathematica, and presumedly, Wolfram|One. So, if there really is extra functionality in Wolfram|One that is not made explicit on the marketing pages, it would be useful to know that.

I think that this is the thrust of this thread.

Great answer. As far as I figured by now, Mathematica is mostly sold, while Wolfram|One is rented (e.g. SaaS). As you wrote, this renders Wolfram|One -- which I see as an entry-level product -- worthless to me, being an avid user of Mma for some years now.

Where I do have difficulties is to choose between Premier Service Plus (PS+) and the Wolfram Development Platform (WPC orginially) with its flexible pricing model. Where exactly is the difference here that would tilt the scale to one side or the other? (e.g. with PS+ there are 25 Free Viewers)

I think that the CDF Player is free now, at least according to the current marketing material. CDF Player|Pro costs money. However, I can find no reference to it in any of the current Premier service plans. I think it has been rendered moot by the current cloud and browser deployments, but someone from Wolfram Research might be able to comment. I only looked at the options for the US. They may be different elsewhere.

I have Premier Service Plus with the "Industry" level license, and I do not have CDF Player|Pro to install or distribute, although I remember having this option for earlier versions. At that time, I made the player available to work colleagues, but it was a real hassle, since they never wanted to do any of the work involved. I think that letting the notebooks run in the browser is better for these casual users, since there is nothing to install, and the functionality is up-to-date.

Having said that, if you don't want SaaS, then the only option is Mathematica.

As it was explained to me when the Development platform was introduced, it is intended as a tool for developers who want to develop APIs, forms, etc., for cloud deployment. It is possible to do other things, of course, but the environment is geared to making these tasks easier. It is possible to do the same thing with Mathematica, of course.

In the end, choosing between the products comes down to 'taste' and affordability. In my opinion, if you can afford it, Mathematica, along with Premier Service Plus, gives the widest range of choices in how to work. For me, at least, this option is less expensive for extended use. Now that I am retired, I still use the "Industry" level because of the extra features available. For me, it is worth the money spent. (Way less than a daily Starbuck's coffee.)

Thank you for the quick response. As I had written, I have bought Mathematica and so far have gone by Premier Service (industrial license). I definitely see benefits in using cloud access vs. Player Pro that has to be installed for every single user if I remember correctly.

What confuses me is, that you had written, that with PS+ you do not have access to Programming Lab or to Development Platform. Is there a difference in deployment options (e.g. UDS) using Mathematica Online (PS+) or can certain cloud features not be used like the Data Drop?

These questions are beyond my expertise. Someone from Wolfram may know, or you could contact your account manager.

I have already suggested to people at Wolfram that it doesn't make sense to not include access to the Programming lab, etc. when you have Premier Service Plus. I have heard that the entire product line is under review, so, with feedback, we might be able to influence things.

I was particularly put out by the marketing description of Mathematica as their 'legacy' product. To my mind, first does not equal 'legacy'. I will be attending this year's WTC, and I hope I get a chance to talk to the right people about this.

I agree with Murray. Wolfram needs to clarify the differences among these products. It is very confusing. Please strip away the obfuscation and find a way to clearly define each product and service and explain concisely what differentiates each from the others! I'm encouraged by Clayton's statement that Wolfram recognizes the current situation as unsatisfactory and plans to rectify it in the coming year. I hope that happens.

POSTED BY: Rand Baldwin

Hi --

It looks like Wolfram|One is a subscription product only, while Mathematica can be purchased outright. I have Mathematica now, with Premier Service plus, and as far as I can tell, I get all the functionality of Wolfram|One. The cost of the service contract for Mathematica is less than the annual Subscription for Wolfram|One. (I am looking at the commercial licenses only.)

I have been using Mathematica since version 1.1, before there was a service plan. I hope that the option of Premier Service Plus remains available for the foreseeable future. It provides the services and support that I need.

I can understand that the name "Mathematica" is no longer entirely descriptive of what the software can do. Changing the name may be hard from a marketing viewpoint, but I can see the value of making a change so that the software can escape the 'ghetto' in which it currently resides. As far as I can tell, Wolfram Desktop, Mathematica, and the desktop component of Wolfram|One are essentially the same. It might be useful to have the same name for these apps.

One last thing: the main marketing page for Wolfram|One has an icon showing portable devices (e.g., iPhone and iPad), but there is no reference to these devices in the rest of the marketing pages. Does this refer to the Wolfram Player, currently in beta, or does it refer to a version of Mathematica (by whatever name) that will run natively on an iPad? I remember seeing this demonstrated at a Wolfram Technology Conference. I remember that there were some issues with the first generation iPad, but the newer iPads -- especially the large one -- is much more capable.


Saying "Mathematica can be purchased outright" is perhaps overstating the situation: one is only buying a license, which without buying any further services, puts no time limit on using that particular version.

POSTED BY: Murray Eisenberg
Posted 4 years ago

I use Wolfram Programming Lab (WPL, current version 10.2 on current Windows 10). I pay EUR 250, $307 per year for a standard license just for personal, non-commercial use. Very expensive.

WPL is another non-understandable product. When I started with Wolfram two years ago, I was totally confused about the product suite and did not know what to buy. (I am a mathematician and was a professional software developer and architect and used about two dozens of programming languages and IDEs: Algol, Fortran, PL/1, Cobol, Pascal, Prolog, Smalltalk, C, VBA, C++, Java, Matlab, etc. And then I was interested in Mathematicas symbolic formula processing). .
What I wanted was:

  1. Full Mathematica / Wolfram Language Features.

  2. Reasonable elevated UI.

  3. Running on my local desktop. If necessary automatically escape to Wolfram Cloud services.

  4. Store program files (notebooks and supporting files) locally within my personal directory structure.

  5. Provide an internet UI to be independent of my locality.

  6. Store all my local files within the Cloud. Actually I want to have them replicated automatically from local to cloud and vice versa..

  7. Have a debugger.

I thought, WPL was the like and licensed it. Now I can say:

A. I got the points 1, 2, 3, 5

B. It does not store files locally - my point 4 - or at least only temporarily and somewhere I don't understand. Actually you cannot work reasonably with WPL without an internet connection. Funny enough the desktop has actions "Save" and "Save to Cloud", but they seem to be the same.

C.It stores files within the cloud - my point 6 - but only explicitly, not in some sense of two-way replication between my local file system and the cloud.

D. It has no debugger - my point 7. Which is a joke. I think you need the development platform and Eclipse for that.

Anyway I can do reasonable work with WPL, but I hate it to have all my files within some cloud structure only. And the worst, really horrible thing ist, that the cloud file system has incredible bugs:

Sometimes notebooks get just corrupted without any reason and have to be partly restored by some complicated process. Since some time I have a whole cloud-directory which suddenly became inaccessible from the desktop, but still work normally from the internet UI. Currently I cannot save notebooks from the desktop. It tells "there is a conflicting version in the cloud" and it cannot be replaced. I have to store it explicitly to the cloud as a new file.

Although I love the Wolfram Language and am deeply impressed by its endless capabilities, I think, the IDE (at least the WPL and its complete file handling) as well as the hole product structure is a nightmare.

Wolfram got lost in its plethora of products and can not even tell, what the differences are.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger

You would probably do better with a 'hobbyist' license for Mathematica, and then pay much less per year for the service contract. I'm pretty sure it meets all your requirements.

There is a separate debugger -- Wolfram Workbench -- which is based on Eclipse. The plug-in is now free. It works pretty well, but is a separate UI to learn and use. As far as I know, it only works with a desktop version of Mathematica.

Posted 4 years ago

What do you mean by "hobbyist" license? Is this that Wolfram Home or the like? Just another dubious product with unknown features..

Do you think, it would cover my 7 points from above (maybe without point 7: debugger)? And I could live without my point 6: Replication local <-> (Wolfram-) cloud, since my Microsoft OneDrive is able to do that without any problems.

BTW: For some tens of years I have never seen an IDE without a debugger. The Wolfram-packages are the first to miss that standard feature. (Let aside that Eclipse plug-in. I know Eclipse and worked a lot with it). When I bought WPL I did not even think on the possibility that it does not have a debugger. It's really funny, or sad. Now I have to scatter my code with nonsense conditional Echo- and Print-statements. Just like 40 years ago at Algol or Fortran times.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger

Sorry for the short hand. I was referring to the standard Mathematica license with the pricing for Home and Hobby.

There is some debugging functionality built-in to Mathematica, but nothing like Xcode, for example.

However, Mathematica is not your basic programming language, so to think of it as an IDE may get you off into a black hole eventually. It took me a while to realize this, but once I realized what Wolfram Language really was, I do a lot better.

Posted 4 years ago

"There is some debugging functionality built-in to Mathematica, but nothing like Xcode, for example."

What do you mean? I know nothing but Assert and Echo.

"However, Mathematica is not your basic programming language, so to think of it as an IDE may get you off into a black hole eventually. It took me a while to realize this, but once I realized what Wolfram Language really was, I do a lot better."

Hmmh? Why should Mathematica not be my basic programming language? And why should those different Wolfram-products not be IDEs?

Off course, if I would still work in my former professional environment I would need some more things than my seven points above: Teamwork, Connection to configuration management tools and testing tools for example. Maybe that's possible with the Wolfram Workbench and Eclipse.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger

Sorry for my possibly outdated American idiom.

Mathematica's design and goals are different from other languages, such as c, COBOL. FORTRAN, or even MatLab. Stephen has talked about this extensively and more knowledgeably than I can.

Tools for 'professional' development are big added, and Workbench seems to the the best solution for large scale development. There is some integration with GitHub for collaboration, but I have not used it. The Unit testing tools are useable.

In the past, I wrote significant software in c and its successors. I used Mathematica (since 1989, at least) to do the R&D and some prototyping, but the production code was all in c. Now, I am using Mathematica for exploration and what would be called experimental mathematics, and for this work, Mathematica is the best.

The point of my post was to say that if you look at Wolfram Language as another language like c, you will likely miss the point of Wolfram Language's design and goals. It took me a while to make the transition. There are tools in Xcode (for example) that I wish I had in Mathematica or Workbench, but on balance, I can get more done with less code with Wolfram Language and Mathematica than any other language I have used over the past 40+ years.

Posted 3 months ago

Somebody (I think Jay Freeman) liked my post. I want to add my current state to that many years old discussion.

Meanwhile I dropped Programming Lab and switched to Wolfram|One (V13.0.1, 64bit, $263/year, Windows 10/11). This is a true desktop version with local files (which I synchronize automatically with my Microsoft OneDrive cloud). It solves almost all my former concerns, let aside debugging, which is still unusable (Debugger within Evaluation menu).

What I like the most with Wolfram is symbolic computation and notebooks. The latter are really great for doing programming and documentation at the same place.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger
Posted 4 years ago

Just another thing is WolframAlpha. Of course this is not a programming environment but a "natural language knowledge engine", which it really is.

But I like to try out small WL-pieces within WA from my smartphone. WA knows some WL-functions or similar constructs (e.g. "Solve[...]" and "solve ..."), but not all of the WL-functions or only with restricted syntax. Since all WA-processing is done within Wolfram servers, I cannot understand that. And there is no reference documentation for WA. Hence each and every time you try something, its an endless process of trial and error.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger

Werner, in my opinion most users of Mathematica can do everything they need with desktop Mathematica and Workbench used solely for adding documentation pages.

Yes, there may be some projects that employ dozens of programmers with huge budgets and critical missions. Those kinds of projects are beyond my ken. They probably require a lot of 'computer science' and computer systems work, large scale debugging and validation - not to speak of good lawyers and business managers! But generally the more independent elements you have to integrate the more the concerns veer away from the core content to ancillary issues.

I believe the target audience tor Mathematica was originally scientists, engineers, mathematicians and anyone whose work contains substantial mathematics, probably mostly academics, working either singly or in small groups, and trying to build up a core of knowledge and capability in a specific area. And also wanting to communicate their work to other people in the field.

If you are such a person you might be interested in my essay on using Mathematica in that manner: A Mathematica Style.

I like to think of Mathematica not as a super graphical calculator or programming language (although it is partly those things) but as a magic piece of paper on which I am writing my material. Magic because it has memory, the ability to calculate, and the ability to transmit active routines to readers. It beats static printed papers by orders of magnitude.

As for debugging, I have always found it easy just by looking at output or inserting a few Print statements. I know this sounds primitive but whenever I've tried program supplied debugging I've found it more work than benefit. And I've developed a number of fairly large Mathematica applications, some with other persons.

Posted 4 years ago

Thanks David for your hints.

I think I am such a person. I read your "A Mathematica Style" and feel that it is very helpful although its a bit difficult to distinguish between literal file/directory names like "PublicFolders" and Meta-Names like "MySubjectMatter" (i suppose).

Until now I was not aware of the important role of $UserBaseDirectory/Applications and did not use it. I will try that and see if my Programming Lab can work with local files there.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger
Posted 4 years ago

Until now I was not aware of the important role of $UserBaseDirectory/Applications and did not use it. I will try that and see if my Programming Lab can work with local files there.

It's a pity (or a desaster): The Programming Lab desktop cannot save anything to any local Folder. Probably I would have to adapt your style to Wolfram cloud folders.

POSTED BY: Werner Geiger

I don't know what The Programming Lab desktop is. Is this a Wolfram product? Possibly you could try BaseDirectory (with a dollar sign) instead of $UserBaseDirectory. Maybe the cloud but I find it too expensive and too complicated. I just exchange Mathematica applications with people who run them on their own desktop computer. I take the hard-nose position that if people want to run Mathematica they should have it. The idea of "Mathematica without Mathematica" has finally turned me off because it does not work well and lacks the full power of Mathematica. It's sort of like the professor gets to use the real Mathematica but the students don't.

The thing about an application is that it can have a folder structure that contains all kinds of things and only some of the folders might be distributed.

I agree that the best user experience comes from using Mathematica on the desktop. Any graphics rendering, let alone Dynamic content, using the cloud severely compromises performance.

Using Mathematica (purchase the license rather than SaaS) is, as far as I can tell, less expensive in the long run as well.

The only case where I can see cloud computing as an advantage is in cases where you can make use of a kernel in the cloud that has access to the proper GPU and enough cores to make the computation significantly faster than on the desktop. The computations would have to be sufficiently complex and time-consuming that the communication latency would be acceptable. There has been talk about offering this as a service at some of the WTCs I have attended, but there has been nothing official. It's like any other add-on device or peripheral. For exmple,is it cheaper to pay to have someone else 3D-print an object rather than buying a 3-D printer? I can (or will be able to soon be able to) buy a Thunderbolt cage for putting any GPU card I wish into, for roughly $1000-1500 USD. The extra costs for doing the computations in the cloud would have to be competitive.

In this case, of course, the cloud computing is really just a (rented) computer peripheral. It is not at all like trying to run a Mathematica notebook in the cloud from a Web browser. It's nice to be able to do this occasionally, but I can't think of any realistic case where I would want to do more than I can get Wolfram|Alpha to do where I would not have my laptop with me.

It seems to me that all the cloud initiatives are really just gateway drugs to get users to purchase Mathematica on their desktops. This is not a bad thing, necessarily. Let a K-12 student try the free or low cost cloud version to see if there is any interest, but then get a proper version. It's just like a student learning a musical instrument. Start out on a $400 flute (for example), and then go for the $10,000+ flute if there is sufficient interest. The price bump for full desktop Mathematica is much smaller, of course.

Wolfram|One seems to be a product without a purpose, unless there is a marketing need to rebrand Mathematica so it doesn't seem so 'mathy'. You can have Mathematica with the identical subscription model as Wolfram|One, plus you can purchase a Mathematica license, which you cannot do with Wolfram|One.

In any case, if anyone is going to invest the time to learn Wolfram Language, the best course of action would be to get a desktop version of Mathematica. That way, there are no compromises at all regarding performance and flexibility.

Posted 2 years ago

How Wolfram Alpha Notebook Edition fits into the mix is also not quite clear to me.

POSTED BY: Philip Anon

That's what I'm thinking. Can somebody answer this?

Hi Philip

Wolfram|Alpha Notebook Edition, or WANE, was designed to offer the simplicity of W|A but without the one-off/disposable nature of it. The dedicated development team did an incredible amount of work on this product so that the suggestion bar is tailored to this market, they can do everything they need via free-form input and it is a different overall experience from Mathematica. We are introducing the power and flexibility of notebooks to a lot of W|A users and they are responding well to it.

We are currently marketing this product to W|A users, High Schools, and Junior Colleges. WANE is cheaper but less powerful than Mathematica, which is what these markets are asking for as they are not ready for M/WL. Yet. What's great for traditional WL users is that "Wolfram|Alpha-Mode Notebooks" are available in the cloud and via the desktop clients for Mathematica and Wolfram|One.

POSTED BY: Clayton Voyles
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