Building a Mathematica Web Community with Wiki-webMathematica
Luc Barthelet, senior vice president at Electronic Arts and general
manager for Maxis during the development of The Sims video games, is a
longtime Mathematica user who recently launched Mathematica-Users, a new website that
combines the power of wiki websites and webMathematica. Built
almost entirely in Mathematica, it takes advantage of
Barthelet's new Wiki-webMathematica technology, which lets
users freely edit and add to the site.
A: My main goal is to have as many users as possible join me in
developing it. I want them to interact and work together
on Mathematica, using this site as a supplement to other
resources like MathGroup. The site's
for everyone from people who have just heard about Mathematica
to power users to the Wolfram developers themselves, some of whom have
already contributed. You can properly display notebooks, see all the
code--even the wiki itself is implemented in Mathematica--and
learn from it or use it as a starting point for your own projects.
A: Well, all but three lines of code. The rest is
in Mathematica, purely based on the fundamental
webMathematica package. I started by running MediaWiki on the
web site under Apache and brought up a webMathematica site in
parallel under Tomcat. I connected to the MySQL database using
DatabaseLink and ODBC. Processing text from the database into HTML was
then very easy using just a few RegularExpression
commands. This all would have been very tough to do before 5.1!
When faced with trying to display the notebook (.nb) format
in a regular wiki, I realized it was actually easier and more
interesting to rewrite the wiki in Mathematica. It is a
language I use every day, and I would rather invest further in
understanding it better than try to learn a new language like PHP.
A: Really, I just want to show new users that there is an active
community that will help them learn Mathematica faster. When
5.1 came out, I did not realize how important all the new features
were. Books take a while to come out, while a website can be updated
in hours or days. That immediacy gives us the chance to learn and
develop faster than ever before.