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Using Wolfram Language as a standard programming tool

Posted 10 years ago

I am confused with the direction of Mathematica / Wolfram Language. At one point things made sense as to what I could use the application for and was excited when all the Wolfram Language talk started. I was considering spending more time with this language to supply software solutions to clients instead of using Microsoft Visual Studio solutions. It seemed like things were headed in such a way that this would be possible.

I’m not focused on complicated mathematical calculations but in data management and reporting. After watching Stephen Wolfram’s video on the release of Wolfram Language I thought something was changing and that all could be now accomplished with a new revolutionary approach. I don't think this is currently the situation.

As a very simple case, I see no way to easily create an application that accepts data input and reports on it without having every user have a copy of Mathematica. And with that it seems I am supplying much more information to a person than they need or would be comfortable learning.

I understand everything I said above is probably possible in some way, but it seems difficult at best. I also know that Mathematica is an extremely powerful and great program for some things; however, it doesn’t seem to be moving in a direction I assumed from information I read and viewed.

Am I wrong in my observation?

POSTED BY: John Stewart
5 Replies
Posted 10 years ago

Sam,

Thanks for responding. This approach is again (I think) using Wolfram Language to supply 'special' functionality. My point in that I would like to get away using Wolfram as, in effect, an API to use when I have complicated Math (or analysis or whatever).

Out of curiosity, in the case of your example, if I wanted to sell the application it seems like things would get overly complicated regarding any pricing structure. How would one do this, sell it as a subscription where someone is allowed something like 20 calculations for $1?

POSTED BY: John Stewart

This is an example of using Cloud API in an Android app:

Computing Cellular Automatons with the Wolfram Cloud in an Android app

Just another way of development.

POSTED BY: Sam Carrettie

"Coming soon" is a relative term.

I re-read Stephen's blog, and there is certainly the potential for Wolfram Language (as we call it now) to break out of the niche it was in. A lot of the technology mentioned in the post has been demonstrated, but most is not available. When we get to play with the technology, I think there will be a lot of good new ideas and products out there.

I have used CDF, and I think that the current problem is that there is not a Mathematica 10 compliant version available. This should be coming soon. I also gave my colleague a version of Player pro for an older version of Mathematica when I got licenses for the product with Premier service. They were both useful for giving my colleagues the ability to work with interactive documents.

There are other people who contribute to the community who are consultants who provide solutions based on Mathematica. They would be in a better positron to talk about the practicalities of using Wolfram technologies.

Mathematica is not a replacement for Visual Studio (or XCode on Mac/iOS). If you need to develop a 'shrink-wrapped' app that a client can launch like any other app, you need other tools.

You can call the Wolfram Language APIs from within any c/c++, etc. application. If you need the Wolfram languages computational engine, this is an attractive solution. There are licensing costs associated with using Mathematica in one of its many variants.

Depending on your needs, you could use CDF player. The free player has limitations that may prevent you from using this solution. However, there are options for Enterprise versions or Player Pro that will let you do pretty much anything. Licensing these products costs less than full Mathematica, so this might be an attractive solution.

For many years I worked as an in-house developer/designer. I did all the R&D using Mathematica, but translated the results into a native c application. However, I did the bulk of the work with early versions of Mathematica (1-5), and I believe that I could rewrite the application using Mathematica 10 at far lower cost. (I have since retired, and will not get the chance to test this belief.)

Wolfram Research's marketing people can give you some idea of the solutions they sell, and you can see if it is a good fit. I have seen examples of real-time reporting, etc., that may be similar to what you have in mind. In my experience, using Wolfram Language instead of c or c++ can result in faster development, more flexibility, and a significantly smaller code base. The savings involved in these technologies should more than outweigh the licensing costs.

Hope this helps....

Posted 10 years ago

George, thanks for taking the time to reply.

I do understand that calling Wolfram Language from other applications is available, but would only do so if there was something I couldn't do easier elsewhere. For the vast majority of things this advanced need does not exist.

My hope for Wolfram Language was primarily based on Stephen's November 13, 2013 post "Something Very Big Is Coming: Our Most Important Technology Project Yet." In rereading it I still think what is being implied is an actual ability to easily create, deploy, and sell a cohesive integrated product. If not, where is the jump from what already existed in Mathematica,

As far as licensing cost, if a need exists that can't be solved elsewhere more easily then the savings will (or probably will) be overlooked as a roadblock. The problem is that for most problems it is not 'needed'.

As far as CDFs, I looked into them when they first came out and think they were a step in the right direction but didn't seem (as far as I can tell) to have progressed. In fact, there has been a lot of question as to their future in this community.

I did not write this to complain, but to hopefully see what I am perhaps missing. I don't 'need' to write anything in Wolfram Language but have used Mathematica for a long time and know it is quite unique and does a lot of things and usually using very little code.

POSTED BY: John Stewart
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