Wolfram is on fire. While the company behind Mathematica has been a presence in high level mathematical circles for over a decade, Wolfram’s flurry of activity over the last year or so has been truly amazing. First came a mobile version of Wolfram Alpha, their popular web application, followed shortly by the Wolfram course assistant apps. Now comes the release of a new document format, the Computational Document Format or CDF.
With their free CDF player, Wolfram allows users to open their new file format, which has a range of applications, from reports to textbooks to infographics. The model here is much like that of Adobe Acrobat and the PDF. You can open the file with the free player but will to buy the premium product in order to create the files. There’s also a plugin to allow CDF files to be read in your browser.
I took the free CDF player for a brief spin this morning, and liked what I saw. Wolfram had up an example file that included a vehicle driving by demonstrating the Doppler Effect. You can see the ambulance move, hear its sound, and watch an animated graph of the the sound it makes.
It’s fascinating to watch the growth of Wolfram. Obviously, they feel like they have the ability to take Mathematica from being the niche product it was for many years to being a platform that tools such as their popular apps and now the CDF can be built on top of. If CDF’s turn out to be a popular way to integrate mathematical content into an elegant presentation format, there’s a potential for Wolfram to really blow up in the coming years as they work their way into segments of the market where they previously had no presence.
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