Frequently Asked Questions about the Computable Document Format (CDF)

Creating and Distributing CDFs

How do I create CDFs?

CDFs can be created with any Wolfram cloud or desktop content creation product. Deploy CDFs either as cloud-driven objects (which do not require CDF Player or any other software installation) or as desktop-driven content for standalone applications (which rely on CDF Player). Deployment options for both cloud-driven CDF and desktop-driven CDF are available through the File menu and directly in the Wolfram Language.

How do I prepare content so that it will work interactively in CDFs?

Almost all programming and computational functions available in the Wolfram Language can be used to build CDF applications. Use the Manipulate command to generate interactive content controlled by mouse-driven actions.

Can I use any Wolfram Language functionality that I want?

Yes. Almost all of the Wolfram Language computational functions can be incorporated into CDFs that are distributed in the Cloud or as EnterpriseCDF. However, in files distributed under FreeCDF terms for CDF Player, some functionality is not available: non-numeric input fields, dialog windows and data import and export (except from Wolfram-curated data sources, e.g. ChemicalData, CountryData and WordData).

How do I turn off code captions in CDF Player?

The most recent version of CDF Player does not display code captions by default. Check your version here and install the latest update to resolve this issue. If you choose to continue using CDF Player 10.3 or earlier and your default language is set to a language other than English, a deployed CDF might display code captions for that language. To prevent this, translation options must be disabled when the CDF is deployed, using TranslationOptions→{"Enabled"→False}. For details, see TranslationOptions.

How can I get more details about creating CDFs?

For more about creating CDFs, see Introduction to Manipulate, How to Create a Computable Document Format (CDF) File and Details for Wolfram Language Programmers.

Can Mathematica run CDFs?

Yes, Mathematica creates, edits and runs CDFs.

Can I import Microsoft Office documents, PDFs or other file formats into CDFs?

When you create a CDF, you can import data, text and images from Excel and Word files. You can copy equations from Word documents and paste them as MathML expressions into Mathematica and other Wolfram products. You can import content from PDF files and import all standard raster and vector image formats.

What's the difference between .cdf and .nb files?

Wolfram notebooks saved as .nb files are viewable but not interactive in CDF Player. Notebooks saved or exported as .cdf files make content interactive in CDF Player.

Are there restrictions on how CDFs can be distributed?

CDFs generated by Mathematica or other Wolfram products are freely distributable as long as the content itself is free or in the public domain. Other terms may apply if the CDFs are being sold or otherwise commercially licensed by content creators. For more details, consult the CDF licensing options.

Can I remove the welcome screen or toolbar when opening CDFs in CDF Player?

The presence of Wolfram branding is part of the FreeCDF licensing terms—a minimal requirement for the benefits of dynamic computation as part of your free interactive content. For commercial distribution solutions, which range from white labeling to complete content creation services, please see our other licensing options or contact us.

Can I put copy protection on my CDFs?

At the moment, we do not have Digital Rights Management (DRM) for CDFs opened in CDF Player, but we are working on making it available. If you need DRM for CDF distribution, CDF in the Cloud may provide a solution that meets your needs.

Can I provide downloads of CDF Player from my site?

Yes, you can provide a link to our download site. This ensures that those downloading always receive the latest version of CDF Player. If you have a special use for CDF Player that requires it to be distributed physically or through your organization's portal, contact us.

Can I put CDFs on my site?

Yes, assuming that your usage meets the CDF licensing options and does not infringe upon any copyright or other proprietary right of any party. You may also want to add a CDF Player download icon link nearby.

How can I embed a CDF into my webpage or blog?

We recommend using the Wolfram Cloud for web embedding. Deploy your content from your cloud account as an embedded CDF object and you can add it to any website, just like any other rich media content. See our Web Delivery: Cloud page for details.

Alternately, you can upload the CDF to your site or a free storage account such as Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) or Dropbox. Then, if your site allows JavaScript, just use the embed code sample and instructions provided on our Web Delivery page. (You can also get the embed code from the CDF Web Deployment Wizard in Mathematica or other Wolfram products.) Using the Wolfram JavaScript library and embed code allows you to set default content to display to site visitors who don't have CDF Player.

Is a dedicated CDF Player available for other mobile devices?

We are actively pursuing solutions for all mobile devices, including cloud-based services. Contact us for more details when CDF support for mobile platforms becomes available.

About CDFs

Is CDF an open file format?

Wolfram currently provides the CDF specification as a public format, meaning it is publicly available, natively unencrypted and documented throughout our Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center.

What's the difference between CDF and other document formats like DOC or PDF?

When viewed through the cloud or with Wolfram CDF Player, CDFs allow a platform-independent interactive experience, exploiting dynamic computation along with standard document features. Unlike static PDF or DOC files, CDFs combine the capabilities of documents and apps into a single, computation-powered knowledge container, empowering readers to drive content and generate results live.

Where can I find existing CDFs?

You'll find CDFs all over the web, as publishers and content providers have embraced the format for communicating dynamic content ranging from commercial research and information resources to textbooks and blogs. Wolfram sources include the Wolfram Demonstrations Project, Wolfram Blog, The Mathematica Journal and Wolfram|Alpha.

How can I be sure a CDF file has no viruses or malware?

Running CDF in the Cloud offers the highest level of security, as all dynamic interactivity is enabled by the cloud server; there is no connection to your own machine or local systems. On desktop and mobile, FreeCDF runs in a sandbox mode, restricting exposure to to any potentially risky code.

Using Wolfram CDF Player

Will CDF Player open all Mathematica notebooks?

Yes, all Mathematica notebooks can be viewed in CDF Player, but only .cdf files will function interactively.

I've opened a notebook, but the interactive elements don't work—they're either gray boxes or images of the applet. What's wrong?

The author of your notebook has not saved it as a CDF using Mathematica. You can do this conversion yourself provided that the notebook's content does not infringe upon any copyright or other proprietary right of any party.

When I open a CDF, I see a warning about dynamic content. What does that mean?

Files containing interactive content can automatically evaluate code without any additional action by the user, aside from opening the file.

Certain directories, including the desktop and downloads directories, are "untrusted" by default, so opening a CDF that is stored there (or in a subdirectory of the desktop) will trigger the warning. You can click the button in the warning to enable dynamic content. For more information, see the Notebook Security tutorial.

Why can't I edit text in CDF Player?

CDF Player is intended as a deployment option. If you want to edit or create applications or documents, then you need Mathematica or any other CDF content creator, such as Wolfram|Alpha.

I'm having trouble getting CDFs to work. How can I tell you about it?

Please contact us with a description of the issue to help us solve the problem.

About Wolfram CDF Player

Does CDF Player work for movie or audio files?

No, CDF Player is not a media player, but a runtime that specifically supports viewing and interacting with .cdf and .nb files.

Does the interactivity I see in CDF Player use other applet technologies such as Java, .NET and Flash?

No, the applets are driven by Wolfram's Mathematica-derived technology, developed in-house for more than a decade. This promotes higher-level authoring, in one language only, with the ability to assume the broad functionality of the technology, in turn making more and more refined resources available to CDF Player users.

On what platforms is CDF Player available?

CDF Player is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and now also iOS for iPad and iPhone.

What are the system requirements for CDF Player?

CDF Player requires an Intel Pentium Dual-Core or equivalent processor, and we recommend 2 GB+ of RAM. The Player for iPad and iPhone requires iOS 9.3 or above.

What Linux distributions is CDF Player tested on?

The current version of CDF Player was fully tested on Ubuntu 12.04–17.04, RHEL 6–7, CentOS 6–7, Debian 7–9, openSUSE 12.1–13.2/Leap 42.1 and Fedora 14–25. On new Linux distributions, additional compatibility libraries may need to be installed. It is likely that CDF Player will run successfully on other distributions based on the Linux kernel 2.6 or later, with glibc library 2.12 or later.

I'm in a secure environment. Can my site administrator distribute CDF Player internally to my colleagues?

Yes. If you are in a lab or other facility where our download site is not accessible, you can distribute CDF Player within your organization. Contact us for details.

If I received CDF Player bundled with my computer or another application, is it the same as CDF Player I can download from here?

Yes, we have licensed CDF Player for bundling with a range of hardware and software. The versions provided in OEM bundles have the same capabilities as a download version and can be upgraded the same way. To get the latest version of CDF Player, or to see whether there's been an upgrade, visit the download page.

I've purchased Mathematica. Can I open CDFs in Mathematica instead of in CDF Player?

Yes. Your Mathematica installation will always supersede CDF Player if it is based on the same major version number and CDF Player is not already running.

Why is CDF Player download so large?

CDF Player provides essentially all of Mathematica—more than 3,000 built-in functions for a dozen application areas—for computation and visualization on topics ranging from engineering to finance to statistics to image processing. For more, see the power behind CDF.

Can I distribute CDFs with enhanced functionality to people who have the free CDF Player?

Yes. You can work with us to provide CDFs with enhanced functionality, like importing or exporting data or non-numeric input fields. You can also consider deploying with Wolfram CDF Player Pro.

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