Wolfram Research Introduces Exciting New Programmable Document Format; PDFs Be Gone

Wolfram Research has done it again! It has come up with a brand new concept The Computable Document Format or CDF. Wolfram Research is already famous (and rich) for building Mathematica, the magnum opus in student scientific computing software, and the know-it-all online knowledge database Wolfram Alpha. With both the projects, Wolfram has emerged successful, emphatically victorious in fact.

What is the Computable Document Format?

Now it attempts to put in a bit more of sauce in reading pdf’s. Here’s what a Computable Document Format is: According to Conrad Wolfram’s blog, the new document format allows the creator to write simple programs and to interact with the user using various animations. Mathematica users will recognise the Manipulate’ command as well as the Animate’ command as having similar functions.

A description of the CDF follows. If you’re reading a PDF, you’re reading an image a non-interactive, often un-editable, document. Now, if you’re reading about the Doppler Effect, you’ll know the effect in a bookish way, but to really experience it, you’ll have to head off to the rail station. With the CDF, you can code and create a simulation showing the Doppler Effect, complete with spectral broadening etc. You can add parameters, like speed of the source, speed of the listener and base frequency. This gives the reader a complete idea about what the Doppler Effect is. (Example taken from Wolfram’s blog). You can even add sound. PDF with a dash of multimedia that’s informally what CDF is all about.

We give you a video by uploaded by WolframResearch on YouTube showing how CDF works.

Here’s another giving you a few programming hints.

How to download

We’re giving you the link to download and install the CDF player. It’s a 150 MB installer, which takes up 500 MB of disk space, when installed. Wolfram Research claims that programming in CDF is as easy as recording a macro in MS Excel.

Rumors are out as to whether Adobe will tie up with Wolfram Research on this project. Very few people have heard of this right now, but the number is expected to increase exponentially in the coming days.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.