CDF InfoKit—Experience the Computable Document Format

Courseware of the Future—Today: Developing Interactive Textbooks with CDF

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The CDF Advantage:
  • All-in-one format—CDF offers a flexible interface accommodating both documents and applications and eliminates the need to use different tools for typesetting, diagrams, and interactive controls
  • Automation—Automated functionality simplifies creating interactive knowledge applications
  • Built-in knowledge—CDF includes rich built-in knowledge and access to the world's largest collection of computable data
  • On-demand computation—CDF incorporates the powerful Mathematica computation engine, enabling users to generate results, live, without the limitations of formats relying on predetermined data configurations
"It's way beyond a regular word processor. It's beyond web pages and applets and Java..."

Challenge

After seeing the advantages of using interactive visuals in the classroom, Eric Schulz, a mathematics instructor at Walla Walla Community College, started thinking about how to redefine the standard ebook model of lifeless, static pages.

Using Mathematica and the Computable Document Format (CDF), Eric combined the capabilities of traditional text and interactive application into a single computation-powered knowledge container.

Solution

After sharing this vision and presenting some of his dynamic figures, Schulz was invited to join authors Briggs, Cochran, and Gillett for a new calculus text to be published by Pearson. CDF allowed the use of one tool, Mathematica, for typesetting, data, interactivity, and deployment. "It's hard to imagine how a book like this would be brought alive without having Mathematica."

Benefits

Using the free Wolfram CDF Player, students can immediately navigate through sections and explore the ebook's interesting interactive figures and intuitive text, which combine to bring hard-to-convey concepts to life. "Those that have been teaching have been yearning for something that would bring our subject alive and move beyond the textual content we normally find, and support that with visualizations that are interactive, so the feedback has been incredibly positive."

Published in fall 2010, the ebook is being used at hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States and has been recognized with awards in the software and publishing industries.