Stephen Forrest

Mr. Stephen Forrest

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20 years, 246 days
Software Architect

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These are replies submitted by Stephen Forrest

On a completely trivial note, MaplePrimes did well in the Google ranking for at least one thing: my name. Yesterday it was actually ranked first; now it's coming in just after my personal webpage. Maybe with enough time and rising prominence in the site, I will succeed in displacing my namesake nemesis from the top of the Google rankings.
Here are a few more formats to consider adding:
  • .ps (Postscript)
  • .eps (Encapsulated Postscript)
  • .tex (LaTeX source)
  • .dvi (Intermediate LaTeX file, probably not necessary)
  • .mm (sometimes used for Maple source)
  • .gz (gzipped compressed file, for those of us in the Unix world)
  • .tgz (sometimes used for a gzipped tarball)
Such functionality would certainly be useful. Rather than extending the somewhat idiosyncratic (as compared to other Maple types) use of indices for this type, I would think it better to add something modelled after RealRange, say 'IntegerRange'. This would have the advantage of allowing half-open and half-closed intervals to be easily specified, e.g. IntegerRange(Open(1), 3).
Some of the entities in Silvexl's code, specifically ≈ still show up as not rendered.
I like 1) through 4). 5) is nice and objective, but there are people who've used Maple for 10 years and just know 'int'. Another idea would be for people to rate themselves, ranging from people who've used Maple for solving a problem or two to advanced Maple programmers. Instead of 6), 8), and 9) as stated, I'd suggest having a blank form area for a user 'profile'. We allow freeform blogs, posts, and comments (modulo the terms of use), why not profiles? The intent of listing hobbies, favourite people, etc. is to allow users to express personalities, but I think too tight a mould will be counterproductive to this goal. All round, though, these suggestions would be definite improvements to the profile page.
I copied the page source for silvexl's example, and tried to work with it until I could get it to parse in Firefox as MathML. Here are some the issues I found:
  1. Ampersands in the submitted text are escaped: "⁢" becomes "⁢" in the markup.
  2. Linebreaks (i.e. <br \>) are automatically inserted throughout the message, which prevents correct parsing of the MathML.
  3. I needed to change the content/type for the page from "text/html" to "text/xml"; I think this is because MathML embedded in a webpage requires XHTML rather than HTML. That might be a pretty major change for the site, if we have to do it on every page.
  4. I needed to insert the following before the HTML content: <!DOCTYPE html SYSTEM "mathml.dtd">
Finally, and least importantly, I think silvexl meant to write &xi; rather than &#xi; in his code. I get a real Greek xi when I use &xi;.
Thanks, the addition of a Plaintext mode is very useful. However, particularly for formatted Maple output, it would be especially useful to allow a Plaintext mode with a fixed width font. Notice how the example below currently appears: > Sum(1/n^2, n=1..infinity); infinity ----- \ 1 ) ---- / 2 ----- n n = 1 What I entered above was the result of copying an input and output from a Maple worksheet into the comment box here, so this would be a pretty typical user experience. I would still recommend allowing a Plaintext mode with variable-width font, as is currently the case, since a user might not care about formatting of output and might want to include lots of text which would be cumbersome to read in a fixed-width font. An ideal solution would be to somehow devise a sensible way of having both fixed- and variable-width fonts in messages, but without resorting to HTML.
I like the new colour scheme, in which comment titles have blue backgrounds. To my eye, this makes comments much more readable. Thanks, Will.
Thanks for adding this, Will. Just out of curiosity, what code are you using to make this happen? (My first thought would be something like htmlspecialchars in PHP). Though I think it will be frequently used for entering Maple input/output, I'm not sure of the name "Maple Syntax". As far as I can see, there is nothing about the way in which the input is processed that relates to Maple's syntax. There might be all kinds of other reasons posters might wish to avoid having their input interpreted as HTML; Maple syntax is just the most obvious one of these. My suggestion is just 'Plain Text'.
I'm not convinced this is a problem we need to solve: users can right-click links to open in new windows if they so choose. However, this behaviour would not be default, and I would guess that my browsing style -- using Firefox and making heavy use of browser tabs -- is making me prejudiced here. I know of two ways to force links to open in new windows: using Javascript and specifying an attribute target="_new" in the HTML anchor. If we choose to implement Jan's suggestion, I would strongly prefer the latter implementation. Using Javascript would force the user to open a new window in all cases, which would be an annoyance for users of tabbed browsers like Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox.
By design, mod accepts integer arguments only. One may want to use an angle in degrees using decimals, in which case you would need Frem or something similar.
Yes, I would have expected 'home' on the far left. I'm not sure that 'about' has to be on the right, but it feels more natural there than where it is now. I don't know where I've gotten these conventions from; probably other websites whose designs I've just assimilated. Mediawiki (i.e. Wikipedia), Orkut, and Livejournal, all put the user-customized page on the left. Livejournal actually has "Home" on the left and "About" on the right, which is exactly what Sultan suggests. A lot of places have "Log out" on the right, which might be worth considering also.
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