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Re: Woctave-another gui front end

From: Stephen Montgomery-Smith
Subject: Re: Woctave-another gui front end
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 11:33:04 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; FreeBSD amd64; rv:17.0) Gecko/17.0 Thunderbird/17.0

On 12/20/12 07:36, Nicholas Jankowski wrote:

Many systems will have the entry prompt or MOTD say 'type help for a
list of basic commands'.  From there, a list appears and the user can
use those visual cues to start fumbling around. A GUI takes advantage of
a modern user's built in tendency to 'click around' for what looks
right. It takes advantage of the parallel processing nature of visual
learning, with a minimum of prior knowledge required. In Octave, if you
intuitively type HELP, you are informed that you can get help with
individual commands by typing 'help NAME'.  but what if I don't know the
name? I might find it in a GUI list of commands, or list of help topics,
but now I just have the blinking cursor.
help integrate -->  'integrate not found'.
help quad --> Numerically evaluate the integral...

how would a user intuitively know the name of one numerical integration
function is quad... he wouldn't. now, the 'see also, at the bottom of
many helps is immeasurably useful. it provides visual cues in a parallel
format for further exploration. user knowledge of how to overcome the
initial CLI progress barrier can't be assumed since the DOS prompt
disappeared under XP.  how do you get them started...

I tell people to use "google." It is actually rather easy to have an octave window and a browser window open at the same time. And google is really good at intelligent searching, even correcting your spelling mistakes. You can type "matlab integrate" or "octave integrate" and read whichever documentation you think is better. (In this case I personally preferred the octave documentation.)

I think google is so good that even when I am using commercial software like Mathematica, I use google instead of the Help facility that comes with the program. You get the same information, but the google/browser interface is better IMO.


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