Discussion:
SAGE download stats -- how to increase SAGE usage?
(too old to reply)
William Stein
2007-08-07 22:22:36 UTC
Permalink
Hi Sage-Devel,

The SAGE downloads during the last week are as follows:

Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57


Total .................................. 232

The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.

I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.

Please share your thoughts!

-- William

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Tim Lahey
2007-08-07 22:44:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I think what might help (at least for the non-mathematicians) is examples
of the use of SAGE in applications. For example, Maple has its Maple
Application Centre and while I don't use Mathematica, I'm sure something
similar exists for it. Certainly MATLAB has something similar.

I'm finding SAGE difficult to use at time since most of the examples are
done for mathematicians. I tend to think my mathematics background
is fairly solid but I have no idea of rings and fields but these are all through
the examples in the documentation.

The linear algebra documentation doesn't show any examples with
symbolic components in the matrix, that would be a useful addition. I
haven't even been sure if it was possible until I saw an example
that somebody posted a little while back.

Maple has excellent documentation for programmers in its Introductory
Programming Guide and its Advanced Programming Guide. I learned
many new and useful things from these books, and I use those tricks
quite often. These are all related to manipulating equations, variables,
functions, and lists of equations. The documentation doesn't really
discuss manipulation of the low level structures. Are there SAGE
equivalents of things like op(), applyop(), indets(), GenerateMatrix()?

While I want to use SAGE considerably more than I do, I find myself
struggling with getting up to speed. I won't be able to convince people
to switch from Maple if I can't use SAGE for my regular work.

Cheers,

Tim Lahey

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Aaron E. Klemm
2007-08-07 23:25:14 UTC
Permalink
A few thoughts:
* The public sage notebook really needs to be available by default on
port 443. This brings up a lot of issues that have been hashed over many
times. Most webapps today would be delivered as a package that could run
in a standard Apache environment. So maybe something built on Django or
Turbogears. This would encourage others to make public notebooks
available that they can integrate into their hosting environments.

That's the hard solution. The easier solution is to get a separate IP
address. The harder solution above can help sage become a
widely-installed webapp hosted at various sites so downloads wouldn't
be the most important metric anymore.

* Wikipedia tie-in: for each mathematical topic in Wikipedia, create a
sage-based tutorial that illustrates the concepts. Perhaps this could be
a download-able notebook attached to the article that people can fire up
to walk through the tutorial. Or they can load it in the public sage
notebook. This might help establish sage the free choice for math and
could be an exercise that helps make sage more approachable by
non-mathematicians as well.

* get sage in apt. Again, lots of pain involved here and you all have
put in a lot of thought to the problems already.
ak
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
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Robert Bradshaw
2007-08-08 00:14:04 UTC
Permalink
Being optimistic, I would hope things would pick up in the fall
compared to the summer (in fact, I think it's lucky to not have a
drop--assuming we're starting to aim for the non-research crowd too).
I don't have any specific ideas (yet), but I think the "back to
school" timeline is important to keep in mind.

- Robert
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is
definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
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URLs: http://sage.scipy.org/sage/ and http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/
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Bill Page
2007-08-08 00:36:55 UTC
Permalink
As technically hard as it might be, I think having a native Windows
version of Sage - even if it includes only a subset of the standard
packages - would likely be a big factor in attracting more users. In
my experience with Axiom, potential Windows users out number Linux
users by a large number (maybe a factor of 100 or more). Windows users
are very reluctant in install Linux in a virtual machine or even
cygwin just to run Sage. (If they were willing they would probably
already be running Linux.) Having even a subset of Sage available as a
native Windows application would introduce many more users to Sage and
probably motivate some of them to install Linux in order to access the
full version.

I think the best tool for building a native Windows version of Sage is
probably MSYS/MinGW which is really a cross-compiler and gnu tool set
that provides a Linux-like environment only during the build. The end
product is a native Windows application that does not depend on any
Linux emulation layer. Unfortunately some of the standard packages in
Sage can not be built in this way and to make matters worse, as far as
I know the pexpect module that is required for interface with packages
like Maxima has not been successfully ported to Windows.

Regards,
Bill Page.

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Alec Mihailovs
2007-08-08 00:56:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Page
As technically hard as it might be, I think having a native Windows
version of Sage - even if it includes only a subset of the standard
packages - would likely be a big factor in attracting more users.
Being a Windows user, I can't agree less. Also, the notebook running in IE 7
would be much more attractive for many Windows users (including me) than in
Firefox.
Post by Bill Page
Having even a subset of Sage available as a
native Windows application would introduce many more users to Sage and
probably motivate some of them to install Linux in order to access the
full version.
I always have few Linuxes installed, just for running programs (such as
SAGE) that are not available in Windows. Still, it's not the same.
Post by Bill Page
I think the best tool for building a native Windows version of Sage is
probably MSYS/MinGW which is really a cross-compiler and gnu tool set
that provides a Linux-like environment only during the build. The end
product is a native Windows application that does not depend on any
Linux emulation layer. Unfortunately some of the standard packages in
Sage can not be built in this way and to make matters worse, as far as
I know the pexpect module that is required for interface with packages
like Maxima has not been successfully ported to Windows.
However, for Python extensions, the compiler should be the same as the
compiler used to build Python - for Windows it is Visual Studio (Express is
OK) 2005.

Alec


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mabshoff
2007-08-08 01:54:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by Bill Page
As technically hard as it might be, I think having a native Windows
version of Sage - even if it includes only a subset of the standard
packages - would likely be a big factor in attracting more users.
Having worked on the Cygwin Port up to the point where it was dropped
I can only tell you that it is a pain to get to run. At that
particular point there were problem with at least 6 packages, two of
which were unresolved with no real hope of getting resolved any time
soon.

Getting other packages to work with MSVC is even a bigger problem, I
do not think that many packages of SAGE besides NTL compile with MSVC.
MinGW is worst than Cygwin because it doesn't provide any extra POSIX
functionality. For example: Singular does require mmap for its
allocator omalloc (I believe it can be made to use malloc, but from my
last conversation with Michael Brickenstein this is not a good idea to
switch away from omalloc).
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Being a Windows user, I can't agree less. Also, the notebook running in IE 7
would be much more attractive for many Windows users (including me) than in
Firefox.
Post by Bill Page
Having even a subset of Sage available as a
native Windows application would introduce many more users to Sage and
probably motivate some of them to install Linux in order to access the
full version.
I always have few Linuxes installed, just for running programs (such as
SAGE) that are not available in Windows. Still, it's not the same.
Post by Bill Page
I think the best tool for building a native Windows version of Sage is
probably MSYS/MinGW which is really a cross-compiler and gnu tool set
that provides a Linux-like environment only during the build. The end
product is a native Windows application that does not depend on any
Linux emulation layer.
Cygwin is not Linux emulation, but provides a POSIX compatible layer
for Windows. It is not required for a user to install Cygwin, you just
need the right DLLs.
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by Bill Page
Unfortunately some of the standard packages in
Sage can not be built in this way and to make matters worse, as far as
I know the pexpect module that is required for interface with packages
like Maxima has not been successfully ported to Windows.
However, for Python extensions, the compiler should be the same as the
compiler used to build Python - for Windows it is Visual Studio (Express is
OK) 2005.
There is some other code around to create pseudo TTYs for python on
Windows which are required for pexpect.
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Alec
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Bill Page
2007-08-08 02:05:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by Bill Page
As technically hard as it might be, I think having a native Windows
version of Sage - even if it includes only a subset of the standard
packages - would likely be a big factor in attracting more users.
Being a Windows user, I can't agree less.
??? In my reading of English this sounds like you strongly disagree. :-(
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Also, the notebook running in IE 7 would be much more attractive for
many Windows users (including me) than in Firefox.
I draw the line there! I very much prefer FireFox and strongly
encourage all the Windows users I know to switch to FireFox. I know
from even simple projects that Javascript compatibility between
Explorer and FireFox can be a real pain.

But yes compatibility of the notebook with Explorer would be nice.
What are the known problems if you try it now?
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by Bill Page
I think the best tool for building a native Windows version of Sage is
probably MSYS/MinGW which is really a cross-compiler and gnu tool set
that provides a Linux-like environment only during the build. The end
product is a native Windows application that does not depend on any
Linux emulation layer. Unfortunately some of the standard packages in
Sage can not be built in this way and to make matters worse, as far as
I know the pexpect module that is required for interface with packages
like Maxima has not been successfully ported to Windows.
However, for Python extensions, the compiler should be the same as the
compiler used to build Python - for Windows it is Visual Studio (Express is
OK) 2005.
I am not sure if this is necessary but apparently Python can be built
under MSYS/MinGW (I haven't tried this). See:

http://jove.prohosting.com/iwave/ipython/pyMinGW.html

Regards,
Bill Page.

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Alec Mihailovs
2007-08-08 02:25:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bill Page
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Being a Windows user, I can't agree less.
??? In my reading of English this sounds like you strongly disagree. :-(
Yes, my English is not that great. Certainly I meant "strongly agree" :-)
Post by Bill Page
I am not sure if this is necessary but apparently Python can be built
I meant that the standard Windows Python available from python.org was built
using Visual Studio 2005. I tried once to build it with Visual C++ Express
2005 (that is free as beer), and it worked fine, too.

In general, I think that the best way for using Sage in Windows would be not
to include such things as Python, Singular, GAP etc., but assume that users
already have them, or are able to install them themselves - that would make
porting much easier.

Alec


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mabshoff
2007-08-08 02:31:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by Bill Page
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Being a Windows user, I can't agree less.
??? In my reading of English this sounds like you strongly disagree. :-(
Yes, my English is not that great. Certainly I meant "strongly agree" :-)
Post by Bill Page
I am not sure if this is necessary but apparently Python can be built
I meant that the standard Windows Python available from python.org was built
using Visual Studio 2005. I tried once to build it with Visual C++ Express
2005 (that is free as beer), and it worked fine, too.
In general, I think that the best way for using Sage in Windows would be not
to include such things as Python, Singular, GAP etc., but assume that users
already have them, or are able to install them themselves - that would make
porting much easier.
Alec
The compartmentilazation of SAGE has been suggested many times before,
but as William has stated many times: This makes testing and debugging
infinitely more diffcult. It is also extreme likely that if you use
even minor different versions of certain packages like Maxima things
no longer work properly.

Cheers,

Michael


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Alec Mihailovs
2007-08-08 03:31:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by mabshoff
The compartmentilazation of SAGE has been suggested many times before,
but as William has stated many times: This makes testing and debugging
infinitely more diffcult. It is also extreme likely that if you use
even minor different versions of certain packages like Maxima things
no longer work properly.
Just seems kinda strange to build the same versions of Python, clisp, gsl,
gmp, Singular, etc. that are parts of cygwin distribution already.

Alec


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mabshoff
2007-08-08 03:48:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by mabshoff
The compartmentilazation of SAGE has been suggested many times before,
but as William has stated many times: This makes testing and debugging
infinitely more diffcult. It is also extreme likely that if you use
even minor different versions of certain packages like Maxima things
no longer work properly.
Just seems kinda strange to build the same versions of Python, clisp, gsl,
gmp, Singular, etc. that are parts of cygwin distribution already.
Well, that is only the case if you run current cygwin. And if you look
at the quality of bug reports it doesn't take much to imagine the back
& forth "Which version of $PROGRAM do you run?" until there might be a
pontential solution which will probably be "update to current cygwin
and try again" in many cases. A while back some guy was asked what
operating system he was running as well as his computer configuration
and the answer was "Emacs" ;(

I know for sure that the gmp as well as Singular are usually patched,
there are also now patches for clisp (which are only relevant on Linux
I believe) and python. Either way, I believe Cygwin support was
dropped around the 2.5 release because of problems with libSingular
not linking. Martin spend more than a week and I spend about 3 days
trying to fix that problem with no solution. Because matplotlib as
well as some more specialized applications were broken as well as
myterious signal problems (thread_ix issue) the decision was made to
just drop Cygwin and advocate the VMWare image solution. The main
problem with the Cygwin port was that there was little to no interest
from the developers side despite the fact that the number of Cygwin
downloads exceeded the other downloads combined (at least roughly).

Would I prefer that there was still Cygwin support? Sure, but it
seemed that I was the only person at that time who would actually try
to debug the Cygwin build and resolve issues was me, you might want to
search the archives. I also prefer to do my computations on Linux and
nowadays I have unfortuntely only very little time to hack on SAGE.

The compartmentilazation of SAGE is more about Linux because there you
have solid package managment.
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Alec
Cheers,

Michael


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William Stein
2007-08-08 06:17:36 UTC
Permalink
Hi,

I just want to post to say thanks for all the excellent feedback
on the question I asked earlier. I think it is all very valuable,
even if some options aren't possible at present.

Regarding a native Windows port, such a thing would be wonderful to
have, but unfortunately it is *totally impossible* given the resources
currently available to the SAGE project, as I think Michael explained
very well. Programs like Maple, Mathematica, Magma, and Matlab
currently have between 1 and 100 million in operating budget per year,
whereas SAGE has maybe $70K, so the options for what we can do are
severely constrained
I am still very glad expensive options were discussed in this thread.
One comment is that I think it's wrong to think Windows users would
prefer a native half-way broken partial version of SAGE to a VMware or
Virtual-PC based complete 100% working version of SAGE. In fact, I'm
fairly certain most Windows users would vastly prefer a 100% working
virtualization version of SAGE to something that is half-way broken
but native. In fact, most Windows users have no clue at all that
they're using Linux when they start SAGE via the vmware machine, and
that's fine. I should add that very very little time has been put
into the SAGE vmware machine at this point -- certainly far far less
than went into the Cygwin version of SAGE. I'm the only one who has
put work into the SAGE vmware machine, and I really didn't do much
besides install SAGE into ubuntu and write a couple of little scripts.
There was going to be a coding sprint project on this at SD4, but
that didn't materialize. Thoughts for improving the development
model for the sage-vmware (and/or sage-parallels and/or
sage-msvirtualpc) machines would be greatly appreciated.

Probably the only possible
way there will ever be a native (!= Cygwin or Mingw) Windows version
of SAGE were if some people formed a dot-com open source mathematics
software company, got venture capital, sold service, etc., and were
able to hire a team of highly skilled windows programmers for a (few?)
years. If anybody who actually understands how SAGE works thinks
differently I'd love to hear about it.

The suggestion to make a serious major push for good 3d graphics, is
clearly difficult but totally doable. I think this would be the best
investment of time at present for the greatest return.
The lack of good integrated interactive 3d graphics in SAGE is now the
main remaining missing functionality. I still think the best solution
is a java applet in the notebook and vtk/mayavi for
people using the command line.

Tim's idea for example nontrivial applications of SAGE is great,
and it's supremely practical because the workload is easily distributed:
* In SAGE_ROOT/devel/doc/overviews you can find some documents
that Josh Kantor and I started, which go in this direction.
* This page is also useful for seeing how SAGE is applied:
http://sagemath.org/pub.html

Aaron's suggestion to make it really easy to run the SAGE notebook
publicly through apachessl sort of scares me because running the
SAGE notebook publicly in anything but a chroot jail is inviting
disaster, and that will never change. This is definitely not
ready for anybody to trivially do, and probably it should never
be. Notice that there are -- as far as I can tell -- no web pages
(besides the SAGE notebook) that let a person enter arbitrary Python
code, and Python is vastly more popular than SAGE. (Also, running
the notebook through apache is already reasonably easy via using mod
proxy.)

Regarding Internet Explorer, the fact is it would
be 1-2 day's of work to make the SAGE notebook reasonably
usable from IE 7. Shift-enter would be replaced by
a submit button and some of the CSS would have to be
reworked, but otherwise most things would work. It hasn't
happened yet, mainly because none of the people who know how
the SAGE notebook work actually use IE. Supporting IE7
is definitely worth doing.
Pick an organization or department that uses Mathematica or Maple > or MATLAB. Find out what they use it for. Put the same
capabilities into SAGE. Give SAGE to them, possibly with
a turnkey demonstration.
Rinse and repeat??
This might be a reasonable strategy if SAGE had a nontrivial
budget or were a company, but it isn't (though it's too random
for my taste -- which department? which use case?). Every
step of SAGE development has to:

(1) directly benefit and be *very* important to at least
one SAGE developer, and

(2) move SAGE forward to be a better system.

Guiding SAGE development is all about finding ways to simultaneously
satisfy these constraints. Many of the
comments in this thread are very helpful for this.

Overall, I think the ideas in this thread that best satisfy the above
two constraints are (1) Josh's idea to greatly improve the 2 and 3d
graphics capabilities in SAGE (and how they are showcased on the
website), and (2) Tim's idea to systematically explain a wide range of
applications of SAGE to real problems. In fact, (1) and
(2) probably fit well together.

Thanks or all the brainstorming!

-- William
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by mabshoff
The compartmentilazation of SAGE has been suggested many times before,
but as William has stated many times: This makes testing and debugging
infinitely more diffcult. It is also extreme likely that if you use
even minor different versions of certain packages like Maxima things
no longer work properly.
Just seems kinda strange to build the same versions of Python, clisp, gsl,
gmp, Singular, etc. that are parts of cygwin distribution already.
Well, that is only the case if you run current cygwin. And if you look
at the quality of bug reports it doesn't take much to imagine the back
& forth "Which version of $PROGRAM do you run?" until there might be a
pontential solution which will probably be "update to current cygwin
and try again" in many cases. A while back some guy was asked what
operating system he was running as well as his computer configuration
and the answer was "Emacs" ;(
I know for sure that the gmp as well as Singular are usually patched,
there are also now patches for clisp (which are only relevant on Linux
I believe) and python. Either way, I believe Cygwin support was
dropped around the 2.5 release because of problems with libSingular
not linking. Martin spend more than a week and I spend about 3 days
trying to fix that problem with no solution. Because matplotlib as
well as some more specialized applications were broken as well as
myterious signal problems (thread_ix issue) the decision was made to
just drop Cygwin and advocate the VMWare image solution. The main
problem with the Cygwin port was that there was little to no interest
from the developers side despite the fact that the number of Cygwin
downloads exceeded the other downloads combined (at least roughly).
Would I prefer that there was still Cygwin support? Sure, but it
seemed that I was the only person at that time who would actually try
to debug the Cygwin build and resolve issues was me, you might want to
search the archives. I also prefer to do my computations on Linux and
nowadays I have unfortuntely only very little time to hack on SAGE.
The compartmentilazation of SAGE is more about Linux because there you
have solid package managment.
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Alec
Cheers,
Michael
--
William Stein
Associate Professor of Mathematics
University of Washington
http://www.williamstein.org

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-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
b***@u.washington.edu
2007-08-08 06:28:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
Regarding Internet Explorer, the fact is it would
be 1-2 day's of work to make the SAGE notebook reasonably
usable from IE 7. Shift-enter would be replaced by
a submit button and some of the CSS would have to be
reworked, but otherwise most things would work. It hasn't
happened yet, mainly because none of the people who know how
the SAGE notebook work actually use IE. Supporting IE7
is definitely worth doing.
Depending on funding, this might happen some time this month. It used to be a 2-3 day job, but most features have had their IE-aware code stripped out, since it was often causing more trouble than it was worth.


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-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
William Stein
2007-08-08 06:35:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by b***@u.washington.edu
Post by William Stein
Regarding Internet Explorer, the fact is it would
be 1-2 day's of work to make the SAGE notebook reasonably
usable from IE 7. Shift-enter would be replaced by
a submit button and some of the CSS would have to be
reworked, but otherwise most things would work. It hasn't
happened yet, mainly because none of the people who know how
the SAGE notebook work actually use IE. Supporting IE7
is definitely worth doing.
Depending on funding, this might happen some time this month. It used to be a 2-3 day job, but most features have had their IE-aware code stripped out, since it was often causing more trouble than it was worth.
Hopefully many of those features disappeared from SAGE in the
new version of the notebook. I optimistically think it is 2 days to
get something that is "fully usable". (This means that the CSS
produces pages that are actually readable, and it is possible
to evaluate cells, insert cells, etc.)

What does "depending on funding" mean above, by the way? Does
it mean, if I pay you some money out of startup? Another option
is that I could finally get the tax-free donation (via credit card,
etc.) setup through UW math, and we could see if somebody would
donate a total of say $200 to support you spending a few days
on this. What do you think? It would be interesting to have
a comment in the code listing who paid for certain functionality...

-- William

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b***@u.washington.edu
2007-08-08 06:57:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
Post by b***@u.washington.edu
Post by William Stein
Regarding Internet Explorer, the fact is it would
be 1-2 day's of work to make the SAGE notebook reasonably
usable from IE 7. Shift-enter would be replaced by
a submit button and some of the CSS would have to be
reworked, but otherwise most things would work. It hasn't
happened yet, mainly because none of the people who know how
the SAGE notebook work actually use IE. Supporting IE7
is definitely worth doing.
Depending on funding, this might happen some time this month. It used to be a 2-3 day job, but most features have had their IE-aware code stripped out, since it was often causing more trouble than it was worth.
Hopefully many of those features disappeared from SAGE in the
new version of the notebook. I optimistically think it is 2 days to
get something that is "fully usable". (This means that the CSS
produces pages that are actually readable, and it is possible
to evaluate cells, insert cells, etc.)
I agree that it would probably take around 2 days for it to work, and suck a little. I think it'd take a week (plus) for it to work nicely. I recall that cross-browser introspection was a hard problem, but doable.
Post by William Stein
What does "depending on funding" mean above, by the way? Does
it mean, if I pay you some money out of startup? Another option
is that I could finally get the tax-free donation (via credit card,
etc.) setup through UW math, and we could see if somebody would
donate a total of say $200 to support you spending a few days
on this. What do you think? It would be interesting to have
a comment in the code listing who paid for certain functionality...
It means, I'm kinda broke, so I'll do work on the notebook for pay.


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David Joyner
2007-08-08 12:21:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
Post by b***@u.washington.edu
Post by William Stein
Regarding Internet Explorer, the fact is it would
be 1-2 day's of work to make the SAGE notebook reasonably
usable from IE 7. Shift-enter would be replaced by
a submit button and some of the CSS would have to be
reworked, but otherwise most things would work. It hasn't
happened yet, mainly because none of the people who know how
the SAGE notebook work actually use IE. Supporting IE7
is definitely worth doing.
Depending on funding, this might happen some time this month. It used to be a 2-3 day job, but most features have had their IE-aware code stripped out, since it was often causing more trouble than it was worth.
Hopefully many of those features disappeared from SAGE in the
new version of the notebook. I optimistically think it is 2 days to
get something that is "fully usable". (This means that the CSS
produces pages that are actually readable, and it is possible
to evaluate cells, insert cells, etc.)
What does "depending on funding" mean above, by the way? Does
it mean, if I pay you some money out of startup? Another option
is that I could finally get the tax-free donation (via credit card,
etc.) setup through UW math, and we could see if somebody would
donate a total of say $200 to support you spending a few days
on this. What do you think? It would be interesting to have
a comment in the code listing who paid for certain functionality...
I definitely think this should be done if it hasn't already.
Post by William Stein
-- William
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Robert Bradshaw
2007-08-08 17:06:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
The suggestion to make a serious major push for good 3d graphics, is
clearly difficult but totally doable. I think this would be the best
investment of time at present for the greatest return.
The lack of good integrated interactive 3d graphics in SAGE is now the
main remaining missing functionality. I still think the best solution
is a java applet in the notebook and vtk/mayavi for
people using the command line.
Good interactive 3d graphics (in the notebook (and also from the
command line if Java is installed)) is not as far off as one might
think. There's still hard work left to do, but we've got a good plan
and a fair amount of code written and I've been planning to start
working on it again next week. I still think vtk/mayavi will probably
be necessary for visualizing very large data sets. As well as being
useful in its own right, I agree with the sentiments that fancy,
flashy 3d graphics are a great way to get SAGE noticed.
Post by William Stein
Aaron's suggestion to make it really easy to run the SAGE notebook
publicly through apachessl sort of scares me because running the
SAGE notebook publicly in anything but a chroot jail is inviting
disaster, and that will never change. This is definitely not
ready for anybody to trivially do, and probably it should never
be. Notice that there are -- as far as I can tell -- no web pages
(besides the SAGE notebook) that let a person enter arbitrary Python
code, and Python is vastly more popular than SAGE. (Also, running
the notebook through apache is already reasonably easy via using mod
proxy.)
I think a public SAGE notebook is the best and lowest entry point for
people trying out SAGE. Unfortunately I think recently this has taken
a big step back with requiring signing up to try it out and (though
it may not seem like a big deal to some people but can be very scary
to those that aren't so computer-savvy) the warnings browsers put up
about the apparent insecurity of the self-signed certificate (since
every page now uses ssh). I personally would like to see a no-
commitment open public notebook again, even if it had limitations
(e.g. a short max runtime and non-persistent worksheets, with the
explanation that these are security/resource constraints, and one can
log in and/or download sage for free).

- Robert


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Joshua Kantor
2007-08-08 03:43:07 UTC
Permalink
Pretty pictures. Seriously if you look at Mathematica's website you
see lots of crazy pictures of crazy graphs and such. The maple website
shows a video with 3d models of a robot walking along.
Does it matter whether those pictures have any mathematical content,
NO.
I know that this has been talked about to death, but the area in which
sage is most lagging behind proprietary software is graphics. In this
are there are lots of things sage cannot do that all other systems
can. And graphics have the WOW factor. Additionally many people seem
to only use mathematica, maple or matlab as primarily visualization
tools.

I also like the idea of finding people in other areas/departments that
use one of the three ms and trying to convert them or at least find
what aspect of sage are not satisfactory for them as a replacement.


Josh
Post by mabshoff
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Post by Bill Page
Post by Alec Mihailovs
Being a Windows user, I can't agree less.
??? In my reading of English this sounds like you strongly disagree. :-(
Yes, my English is not that great. Certainly I meant "strongly agree" :-)
Post by Bill Page
I am not sure if this is necessary but apparently Python can be built
I meant that the standard Windows Python available from python.org was built
using Visual Studio 2005. I tried once to build it with Visual C++ Express
2005 (that is free as beer), and it worked fine, too.
In general, I think that the best way for using Sage in Windows would be not
to include such things as Python, Singular, GAP etc., but assume that users
already have them, or are able to install them themselves - that would make
porting much easier.
Alec
The compartmentilazation of SAGE has been suggested many times before,
but as William has stated many times: This makes testing and debugging
infinitely more diffcult. It is also extreme likely that if you use
even minor different versions of certain packages like Maxima things
no longer work properly.
Cheers,
Michael
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Chris Chiasson
2007-08-08 01:12:19 UTC
Permalink
Pick an organization or department that uses Mathematica or Maple or
MATLAB. Find out what they use it for. Put the same capabilities into
SAGE. Give SAGE to them, possibly with a turnkey demonstration.

Rinse and repeat??
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
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URLs: http://sage.scipy.org/sage/ and http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/
-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
kaimmello
2007-08-08 06:37:35 UTC
Permalink
I'm here just to say that for non-US users, the name of the program is
not the simplest to found on the web. SAGE is a name with many
different meanings and I'd suggest a more "peculiar" name that could
let the program to be found instantly on the web.

And I agree that a web site with many examples open to free
contribution and a .deb package would increase greatly the number of
users. Just think about how many Debian users try to find a
mathematica package in apt repository.

Regards
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
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URLs: http://sage.scipy.org/sage/ and http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/
-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Ted Kosan
2007-08-08 07:36:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by kaimmello
I'm here just to say that for non-US users, the name of the program is
not the simplest to found on the web. SAGE is a name with many
different meanings and I'd suggest a more "peculiar" name that could
let the program to be found instantly on the web.
I very much agree with this. When someone does a web search on just
sage, all kinds of other sites are returned. When telling people
about Sage, one often only gets the chance to say a quick "look up
sage on the Internet".

I was in a meeting with the head of Ohio's Learning Network
organization a couple weeks ago and I was able to make a few comments
about Sage. I noticed that everyone in the room picked up their
pencils and wrote down notes on what I said, but I bet that most of
them will have a hard time finding Sage on the Internet if they wrote
the URL down wrong.

Now that the SAGE acronym has been dropped, I would recommend changing
the name to sagemath. This name matches the sagemath.org website, it
helps explain what sage is, and search engines will not return
unrelated sites if this name is used.

Ted

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b***@u.washington.edu
2007-08-08 07:48:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ted Kosan
Now that the SAGE acronym has been dropped, I would recommend changing
the name to sagemath. This name matches the sagemath.org website, it
helps explain what sage is, and search engines will not return
unrelated sites if this name is used.
We bring this up every few months, and I maintain that it's a good idea.

Alternately, sage.math or mathsage (that would make us an "m", which has it's pluses and minuses.)



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Chris Chiasson
2007-08-08 08:14:50 UTC
Permalink
This is kinda off the wall:

Mathematica, Maple, and Matlab don't have a lot of competition for
their keywords on Google, Yahoo, or MSN.

By offering a **very low bid** on each of the names, you could
probably put a message about the SAGE open source project on each of
their names. In addition, you could do the same for SAGE's name.

Together with the nice solid application based tutorials suggestion
mentioned in this thread, you might easily siphon off their new users
(and some old hands too).
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
--~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~
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URLs: http://sage.scipy.org/sage/ and http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/
-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Chris Chiasson
2007-08-08 08:25:08 UTC
Permalink
Actually, to clarify and back up from the previous statement:
I don't know what the level of competition is for those keywords. I
thought it was low because Google didn't show a lot of ads, but that
could be an artifact of automated programs that only show ads that are
clicked on most frequently (or whatever).

I suppose I could look, though I don't know if there is a way to check
the average selling price.

Also, this gets into economic questions:
Is it better for the project to have maximum investment in R&D or to
have some part of investment in advertising, which can have the effect
of more quickly growing the community.

Perhaps it would make more sense to advertise on terms such as "AMS"
or "python" or whatever else people who would make good candidate
programmers search for.
Post by Chris Chiasson
Mathematica, Maple, and Matlab don't have a lot of competition for
their keywords on Google, Yahoo, or MSN.
By offering a **very low bid** on each of the names, you could
probably put a message about the SAGE open source project on each of
their names. In addition, you could do the same for SAGE's name.
Together with the nice solid application based tutorials suggestion
mentioned in this thread, you might easily siphon off their new users
(and some old hands too).
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
--~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~
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URLs: http://sage.scipy.org/sage/ and http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/
-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
P***@gmail.com
2007-08-09 10:54:16 UTC
Permalink
I am not a SAGE developer, and I'll probably say things that most of
you know already, but I thought about this so I might as well email
the list.
Here is how to go about and possibly improve rankings on Google (*):

Step 1: Everyone on this list could make sure to add a link to
sagemath.org on their homepage, preferably with "free", "open-source",
"math" and "software" spelled out close to the link

Step 2: The sagemath.org website definitely needs meta data to be
added. The same keywords and more, maybe a dozen total. Google uses
those. One could say this wouldn't help for a search on the single
term "sage", but I am not sure: the very last step that Google
performs in every search is to make sure that it has diversity in the
output (make sure it talks about herbs, fly-fishing rods and
software). So I would suspect the sagemath.org website suffers on a
search for the single word "sage" mostly because there are already
quite a lot of programs out there called "sage", and Google will only
display so many in the top ten. Helping Google (through the meta)
distinguish how one is different from the other might help.

Step 3: Definitely buy Google ads. Who would find SAGE through Google
that has never heard about it? I could imagine that someone searching
for "free mathematica" would be very interested to learn about SAGE.
Also you would get data out of it, since you can see which keywords
seem to work with people. Finally, with Google Ads you only spend as
much as you are willing to spend (I can't remember if there is a lower
limit/month or what it is). That data must be worth some cash.

Step 4: Go around and post on forums. For instance, if you search for
"mathematica free" (without the quotes), this shows up high up, at
least for me:
http://www.karakas-online.de/forum/viewtopic.php?t=189 . A website,
highly ranked by Google, where people seem to be interested in
something exactly like SAGE. Doesn't matter how old the conversation
really is (in that case it was initiated 4 years ago, but the latest
post is 6 months old), it would be good for all (the forum users,
Google, SAGE users and developers) if someone took the time to post a
paragraph about SAGE and a link to sagemath.org on many similar posts.
It would help drain some PageRank to sagemath.org.

Suggestion: Writing this up, I have a question. What is the correct
case? sage, Sage or SAGE? Is it standardized? For example, in the
Firefox search bar that was just posted yesterday, it seems to be
written Sage. On the website, it's always (?) written SAGE, except in
the logo where it looks like "sage". Google picks up on those
differences, sometimes, and it could be helpful.

Paul
(*) This is backed up: for a while I was the first hit when searching
for "chocolate mousse" (without quotes) ! Unfortunately I have come
down to 10th since moving to Oxford. :)
Post by Chris Chiasson
Mathematica, Maple, and Matlab don't have a lot of competition for
their keywords on Google, Yahoo, or MSN.
By offering a **very low bid** on each of the names, you could
probably put a message about the SAGE open source project on each of
their names. In addition, you could do the same for SAGE's name.
Together with the nice solid application based tutorials suggestion
mentioned in this thread, you might easily siphon off their new users
(and some old hands too).
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
--~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~
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To unsubscribe from this group, send email to sage-devel-***@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/sage-devel
URLs: http://sage.scipy.org/sage/ and http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/
-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---
Chris Chiasson
2007-08-09 12:39:08 UTC
Permalink
I agree with most of what Paul said, except that the thread on karakas
has a page rank of 2, so I am not sure what the ROI would be on that
one.

For comparison, SAGE's homepage has a page rank of 6. My homepage,
which can easily be located, has a page rank of 5. Slashdot's homepage
has a page rank of 9, etc...

The [mathematica free] search keyword is clever. I think I've
personally searched for that many times.

Also, it helps to have a domain name where the individual words are
separated. Search engines will boost site rankings for search terms
that appear in the domain name:
sage-math.org
or sage.math.org
or sage.math.net
or sage.net

If you make an email signature (that you use on reputable mailing
lists) which contains the aforementioned type of domain name in a URL,
you can obtain a double bonus. The reason for this is that mailing
list (and newsgroup) messages are (usually) automatically converted to
HTML archives where URLs are hyperlinked. When this happens, you gain
a link from a reputable source that has your key words in the anchor
text. Anchor text has a lot of weight; it's what people used to Google
bomb the keywords [miserable failure].
Post by P***@gmail.com
I am not a SAGE developer, and I'll probably say things that most of
you know already, but I thought about this so I might as well email
the list.
Step 1: Everyone on this list could make sure to add a link to
sagemath.org on their homepage, preferably with "free", "open-source",
"math" and "software" spelled out close to the link
Step 2: The sagemath.org website definitely needs meta data to be
added. The same keywords and more, maybe a dozen total. Google uses
those. One could say this wouldn't help for a search on the single
term "sage", but I am not sure: the very last step that Google
performs in every search is to make sure that it has diversity in the
output (make sure it talks about herbs, fly-fishing rods and
software). So I would suspect the sagemath.org website suffers on a
search for the single word "sage" mostly because there are already
quite a lot of programs out there called "sage", and Google will only
display so many in the top ten. Helping Google (through the meta)
distinguish how one is different from the other might help.
Step 3: Definitely buy Google ads. Who would find SAGE through Google
that has never heard about it? I could imagine that someone searching
for "free mathematica" would be very interested to learn about SAGE.
Also you would get data out of it, since you can see which keywords
seem to work with people. Finally, with Google Ads you only spend as
much as you are willing to spend (I can't remember if there is a lower
limit/month or what it is). That data must be worth some cash.
Step 4: Go around and post on forums. For instance, if you search for
"mathematica free" (without the quotes), this shows up high up, at
least for me:http://www.karakas-online.de/forum/viewtopic.php?t=189. A website,
highly ranked by Google, where people seem to be interested in
something exactly like SAGE. Doesn't matter how old the conversation
really is (in that case it was initiated 4 years ago, but the latest
post is 6 months old), it would be good for all (the forum users,
Google, SAGE users and developers) if someone took the time to post a
paragraph about SAGE and a link to sagemath.org on many similar posts.
It would help drain some PageRank to sagemath.org.
Suggestion: Writing this up, I have a question. What is the correct
case? sage, Sage or SAGE? Is it standardized? For example, in the
Firefox search bar that was just posted yesterday, it seems to be
written Sage. On the website, it's always (?) written SAGE, except in
the logo where it looks like "sage". Google picks up on those
differences, sometimes, and it could be helpful.
Paul
(*) This is backed up: for a while I was the first hit when searching
for "chocolate mousse" (without quotes) ! Unfortunately I have come
down to 10th since moving to Oxford. :)
Post by Chris Chiasson
Mathematica, Maple, and Matlab don't have a lot of competition for
their keywords on Google, Yahoo, or MSN.
By offering a **very low bid** on each of the names, you could
probably put a message about the SAGE open source project on each of
their names. In addition, you could do the same for SAGE's name.
Together with the nice solid application based tutorials suggestion
mentioned in this thread, you might easily siphon off their new users
(and some old hands too).
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
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Martin Albrecht
2007-08-08 08:41:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
To me SAGE has at least two quite distinct target audiences.

1.) research mathematicians (or similar fields). I don't know how many people
work in these areas (and know how to use a computer for research) around the
world but having almost 1000 downloads a month seems like a lot to me. My
guess is that most SAGE developers somehow fall into this category (correct
me if I'm wrong) and that is why we focused and should focus on this area.
Here, all that counts is high quality, maybe speed, good documentation and
lots and lots of publications. Maybe presenting SAGE at some conferences
wouldn't hurt either. So basically, it's all about a good product.

2.) undergrads taking calculus classes or people who use a CAS from time to
time only. If SAGE is to reach the 10.000 user mark it is probably this group
which makes up the big numbers. Many people on this list seem to assume so
too, because they suggested non-mathemtical means to increase the number of
users.
Post by William Stein
in which a lot of crazy ideas appear.
Okay, you asked for it:

- is the SAGE notebook optimized for search engines? Does it get picked up?
Same for the SAGE website, the documentation? "Search Engine Optimization" is
a shady business but some tricks certainly help the visibility of a project.

- right now, there is a huge hype surrounding AJAX, Web 2.0, user created
content and such. SAGE fits in there because of the SAGE notebook which is a
good example of AJAX actually being useful. Use the hype, let the AJAX crazy
dotcom world know about it: techcrunch.com, mashable.com, uncov.com,
slashdot.org, digg.com, reddit.com, lifehacker.com ... the list goes on and
on and on. To them its a free webservice which doesn't even have Google Ads
or VC.

- buy some Google Ads, apply for venture capital ... kidding

- when I did my GRE Math test I noticed that many shady websites try to lure
you into installing some dialer to get some GRE Math prep material, like
solutions with explanation. So, if they think it is a profitable business to
rip-off potential grad students, there must be some significant number of
people trying to find solutions to the GRE prep material on the web. A well
placed SAGE notebook explaining the concepts and allowing a user to interact
with the sample GRE test questions in the way SAGE allows this interaction
could bring in some attention.

- there are some math blogs & news sites out there. Drop them a mail. Maybe
search for "Mathematica 6 review" (as it just came out) and drop those
reviewing Mathematica a mail about SAGE.

So far,
Martin
--
name: Martin Albrecht
_pgp: http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0x8EF0DC99
_www: http://www.informatik.uni-bremen.de/~malb
_jab: ***@jabber.ccc.de


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Tim Lahey
2007-08-08 08:59:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Martin Albrecht
2.) undergrads taking calculus classes or people who use a CAS from time to
time only. If SAGE is to reach the 10.000 user mark it is probably this group
which makes up the big numbers. Many people on this list seem to assume so
too, because they suggested non-mathemtical means to increase the number of
users.
I guess it depends on what you mean from time to time. I use Maple quite a bit
(pretty close to daily), and I presented software I wrote to
symbolically derive
mass and stiffness matrices from first principles for finite element
analysis at
Maple's user conference in 2005. I've been trying to do nearly all my
symbolic mathematics for my PhD research directly in Maple and I've
been using
MATLAB for my numerics. However, license restrictions have been a pain
for MATLAB so I've been looking at moving away from both Maple and
MATLAB and into SAGE since I'm somewhat familiar with both Python and SciPy.
Unfortunately, learning to use SAGE for symbolic calculations has been quite
a bit more difficult than learning Maple. With limited time (since I
have to do my
research) it appears that I'll be using SAGE for numerical calculations at most
(at least for the foreseeable future).

Cheers,

Tim.

---
Tim Lahey
PhD Candidate, Systems Design Engineering
University of Waterloo

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Martin Albrecht
2007-08-08 09:21:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tim Lahey
Post by Martin Albrecht
2.) undergrads taking calculus classes or people who use a CAS from time
to time only. If SAGE is to reach the 10.000 user mark it is probably
this group which makes up the big numbers. Many people on this list seem
to assume so too, because they suggested non-mathemtical means to
increase the number of users.
I guess it depends on what you mean from time to time. I use Maple quite a
bit (pretty close to daily), and I presented software I wrote to
symbolically derive
mass and stiffness matrices from first principles for finite element
analysis at
Maple's user conference in 2005. I've been trying to do nearly all my
symbolic mathematics for my PhD research directly in Maple and I've
been using
MATLAB for my numerics. However, license restrictions have been a pain
for MATLAB so I've been looking at moving away from both Maple and
MATLAB and into SAGE since I'm somewhat familiar with both Python and
SciPy. Unfortunately, learning to use SAGE for symbolic calculations has
been quite a bit more difficult than learning Maple. With limited time
(since I have to do my
research) it appears that I'll be using SAGE for numerical calculations at
most (at least for the foreseeable future).
Hi Tim,

I wasn't trying to say that everybody using Calculus is not a power-user or
developer. My point is that if we are after 10.000th of users, then casual
users are the ones we are after, simply because I doubt that there are so
many power-users/developers out there. Presenting working code to a
conference isn't something 10.000 people are going to do (?)

Cheers,
Martin
--
name: Martin Albrecht
_pgp: http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0x8EF0DC99
_www: http://www.informatik.uni-bremen.de/~malb
_jab: ***@jabber.ccc.de


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Chris Chiasson
2007-08-08 09:22:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tim Lahey
I presented software I wrote to
symbolically derive
mass and stiffness matrices from first principles for finite element
analysis at
Maple's user conference in 2005.
That's cool. I wrote similar stuff in Mathematica when I had to take
finite element classes. I bet yours is a lot more sophisticated than
mine. Is your work on the web?


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Tim Lahey
2007-08-08 10:17:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Chiasson
That's cool. I wrote similar stuff in Mathematica when I had to take
finite element classes. I bet yours is a lot more sophisticated than
mine. Is your work on the web?
No, it isn't on the web at the moment, mainly because some of the code
I wrote for it is kind of hackish. The other reason is that I'm trying
to finish a paper on it and the numeric piece for the Journal of
Symbolic Computation. Unfortunately, it hasn't been high on the
priority list.

If you're really interested, I could send you the Maple code and a
couple of example worksheets. One worksheet derives the mass and
stiffness matrices for the St. Louis arch and the other for a rotating
Timoshenko beam. The arch is an example that my supervisor is using
for a textbook he's writing (my code discovered a problem in his
derivation) and the rotating Timoshenko beam is part of my thesis
work. Send me an
email off-line.

Cheers,

Tim Lahey

---
Tim Lahey
PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo
Systems Design Engineering.

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Chris Chiasson
2007-08-08 09:17:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Martin Albrecht
- right now, there is a huge hype surrounding AJAX, Web 2.0, user created
content and such. SAGE fits in there because of the SAGE notebook which is a
good example of AJAX actually being useful. Use the hype, let the AJAX crazy
dotcom world know about it: techcrunch.com, mashable.com, uncov.com,
slashdot.org, digg.com, reddit.com, lifehacker.com ... the list goes on and
on and on. To them its a free webservice which doesn't even have Google Ads
or VC.
Spot on. Slashdot has high PageRank. After obtaining a few stories
there, sagemath.org will have a much higher PageRank. It could be
billed in the typical "Open Source XX Killer/Competitor" way. Ex.
"Open Source Mathematica Competitor". This really gets the juices of
the Slashdot hordes flowing.

Of course, it is important to have a killer demo and a really fast
server waiting on the other end of a Slashdot link...
Post by Martin Albrecht
- buy some Google Ads, apply for venture capital ... kidding
I think it is worth looking at since they're so serious about making
SAGE successful.
Post by Martin Albrecht
- when I did my GRE Math test I noticed that many shady websites try to lure
you into installing some dialer to get some GRE Math prep material, like
solutions with explanation. So, if they think it is a profitable business to
rip-off potential grad students, there must be some significant number of
people trying to find solutions to the GRE prep material on the web. A well
placed SAGE notebook explaining the concepts and allowing a user to interact
with the sample GRE test questions in the way SAGE allows this interaction
could bring in some attention.
Clever
Post by Martin Albrecht
- there are some math blogs & news sites out there. Drop them a mail. Maybe
search for "Mathematica 6 review" (as it just came out) and drop those
reviewing Mathematica a mail about SAGE.
++


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Ted Kosan
2007-08-08 09:22:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
In my opinion, the most promising marketing plan for Sage is based on
the idea that Sage is the first general purpose computer algebra
system in history that has the potential to radically change the way
people learn and perform mathematics. I have come to firmly believe
this and the main strategy of this marketing plan is to provide people
with the educational support needed for them to see this for
themselves.

I think Sage's destiny is to create a revolution in the way people
learn and perform mathematics and revolutions are most effective when
they are targeted at the young. Therefore, I think Sage's future lies
with the millions of junior high and high school aged students in the
world today that are more than ready to learn how to perform
mathematics in a way that is vastly more powerful than a hand
calculator and guaranteed to be available as long as civilization
lasts. If Sage is successful in gaining a large user base of young
people today, this will translate into increasingly wider distribution
across all industries and institutions going forward.

The key to successfully distributing Sage to the millions of students
in the world is to understand that they all need to learn fundamental
programming and computer skills before they can use any computer
algebra system. Most K-12 educational institutions and learning
materials are unable to teach these skills because they are extremely
obsolete. The reason for this is that technology's growth is
exponential and most K-12 institutions have simply been unable to keep
pace with it. These institutions know they need help with their math
and science curricula and they are usually very open to solutions to
this large and universal problem.

Using this as a foundation, here are my thoughts on action items for a
Sage marketing plan:

1) All technical students need to learn how a computer actually works
and how to program. Create a series of free eBooks that teach these
topics from scratch in a way that provides a solid foundation for
learning how to use Sage:

Status: Done ( http://professorandpat.org )


2) The Internet heavily depends on UNIX-based open source operating
systems and this dependency is increasing over time. A significant
number of technical students need to learn how to manually install
these type of operating systems so that they have a solid
understanding of how they work. This knowledge is needed in order to
do more advanced tasks like patching applications and building them.
Create a series of free eBooks that show how to manually install Linux
in a way which provides the learner with the skills needed to build
Sage from scratch and set it up as a web service on the Internet.

Status: 3/4 done (
http://206.21.94.60/tkosan/distancelearning/etec150/lectures/linux/ ).
eBooks on building applications and manually setting up a Sage server
still need to be written.


3) Develop an eBook for high school aged students that shows how to
use Sage from the ground up.

Status: In progress.


4) Develop a series of free mathematics books for high school aged
students which are based on Sage.

Status: If it can be assumed that the students already know the
content in parts 1-3 above, these books should be a joy to write and I
bet that people can be located who would be willing to develop these
books. #3 above should be able to significantly increase the pool of
people who have the Sage skills needed to write Sage-based textbooks.


5) Develop online courses that are based on the above materials. Make
the course materials available for free to universities that would
like to offer them as post secondary options to their local high
schools. Encourage schools to donate some of the profits they make
from the post secondary revenues to the Sage project.

Status: This is exactly what my university is doing. We just signed a
contract for $50,000 with a consortium of 16 high schools in our state
capital to offer a course based on the above eBooks, along with 2
other courses. If this goes well, we will be in a good position to
market courses to the rest of the schools in Ohio and this will
hopefully include mathematics and programming courses based on Sage.
Other universities could easily use the eBooks to do the same thing.


6) Similar to #5 except target Tech Prep schools in the US. These
schools are easier to communicate with than normal high schools
because they are all part of the nation-wide Tech Prep program.

Status: My University is currently offering an online post secondary
course based on the above materials to 4 Tech Prep schools and we plan
to increase this number significantly next year. Again, other
universities can use the eBooks to do the same thing.


7) Make the eBooks available to the vast and growing network of home
schoolers that exist in the world. Home schoolers are typically able
to spend more time learning subjects they are interested in. For a
mathematics, science, and technology oriented home schoolers, Sage
will be intoxicating and gaining deep Sage skills can easily changes
their lives.

Status: This week my University started putting together a plan to
provide a free online course based on the above materials to home
schoolers. Marketing a course like this to home schoolers is
extremely easy because most home schoolers keep in touch with each
other using email lists. It would not work very well to drop into a
list and say "Here is the URL for an open source computer algebra
system." You would be amazed at how well dropping into a list and
saying "We are offering a free online university-quality class that
teaches..." works though :-)


8) After the free eBooks and courses begin to show penetration in a
given state, convince the state to set up free Sage servers so that
their citizens can have easy access to them. It will not be difficult
for states to see the significant wealth-creating potential that a
workforce with strong computer algebra system and programming skills
will have in a future which will be dominated by information
technologies. Compelling arguments can be made that Sage currently
has the greatest wealth-creating potential of any of the existing
computer algebra systems.


9) Outside of the US, do the same thing as #8 for small countries and
regions of larger countries.


10) Obtain an OLPC ( One Laptop Per Child ) laptop and make sure its
browser can access a Sage server correctly. Come up with a way for
Sage to be made available to OLPC students and then provide the eBooks
to these students too. I bet that one or more organizations can be
convinced to sponsor this effort especially since Sage's lightweight
web service model may currently be one of the few ways to feasibly
provide computer algebra system capabilities to OLPC users.

11) Create a logo for Sage that is as easy to recognize as the Linux
Penguin is. My idea for a logo is a Gandalf-like sage surfing on top
of the mother of all waves. The wave represents the exponential
explosion of technology that we are currently experiencing and the
surfer symbolizes Sage's ability to master all of this technology
wave's increasing complexity.

Ted

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Joel B. Mohler
2007-08-08 11:59:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I've spent some time evangelizing sage to 3 research mathematicians. I
realize the responses below may not be valid given design constraints. But
these are hurdles that the average computer-savvy mathematician needs to
cross before they are going to even consider SAGE a competitor. Here's the
responses I've gotten:

1) "Ugh, a web-based interface": My feeling was that this mathematician felt
exactly as I do about web-based interfaces -- they are always clunky. I'll
admit that the new web interface is *very* smooth, but, it doesn't even begin
to compare to a well crafted native interface.
* What about hot keys for menu items?
* What about syntax highlight?
* What about smart python indenting?
* Why does my browswer not scroll to contain the entire tab complete list?
* How do I insert a cell with my keyboard?
* Why do the edits shift up/down a pixel or 2 when focus changes?
I don't necessarily mention these things as things to fix -- I honestly
believe that to fix them all would make your javascript horridly
unmaintainable. This not to mention browser compatibility (I'm on firefox of
gentoo). My underlying point here is that the browser interface is
off-putting to many experienced computer users and I don't blame them one
bit. I think it's stunning that the notebook is this good at all because
many web ui's suck far more.

2) "Why does sage install so many things that I already have installed?":
Really I don't think that this is a valid complaint. I totally understand
the reason that sage installs all these things. I'm just pointing out that
many linux users consider this blasphemy. I think the solution is better
advertising about why this design decision was made.

3) "It's not user friendly": I made the mistake of telling this
mathematician that sage uses a mainstream programming language. Of course, I
considered this a huge advantage -- lack of sensible file IO and string
support in mathematica and others have pissed me off for years. These things
mean absolutely nothing to most I've talked to. Even the ugly kludges that
pass as for-loops in other mathematica-style languages don't arouse peoples
understanding! The underlying point I took from this is that real
programming languages scare people. Again, this is a matter of better
advertising (but it does make me wonder if the appeals of sage aren't niche
appeals.)

Ok, I'm sorry if this came off a bit rant-like. I really don't mean it that
way and I consider SAGE god's gift to mathematicians, but I've realized over
the years that the things that make me giddy on a computer mean nothing to
the vast majority of the computer-using public.

Oh, and I agree with Bill --- you want market share, make a native windows
port. Good luck with that!

--
Joel

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Hamptonio
2007-08-08 12:50:00 UTC
Permalink
Anyone who is an academic using SAGE should try to give a little talk
on it to your department (unneccessary at UW of course). I did this
and I generated a fair amount of interest from our grad students. The
faculty weren't overwhelmed, they all wanted particular things that
sage currently lacks - an easy linear programming interface, support
for R, bifurcation analysis, etc.

I think the exhibit at the joint meetings will help a lot. We should
do similar things at other meetings - I haven't had the time or energy
to do that yet, but after the joint meetings maybe it will be easier
for 1-2 people to set up a table at things like MathFest, SIAM,
Society for Mathematical Biology, local MAA meetings, whatever.

One of my goals is also to do more undergraduate research/development
work with sage. One can view big unfergrad poster sessions as free
advertising, at least to an academic audience.

I agree with some other posters that eye-candy is crucial. I think a
lot more could be done with Tachyon that might impress people. Also,
exporting to PDF is very important I think, and currently seems a
little broken (although maybe I am not doing it right).

-Marshall
Post by William Stein
Hi Sage-Devel,
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
The number of new downloads of SAGE per week have been roughly
constant during the last 2-3 months. The growth of SAGE is definitely
not what I hoped for during my talk at SAGE Days 4. Does anybody
have any good ideas about how to increase the number of people
downloading SAGE? My hope is that this question will spark a relaxed
but enthusiastic and positive open-ended brainstorming thread in which
a lot of crazy ideas appear.
I'm laying a lot of groundwork (e.g., writing books, articles, etc.)
and I think other people are (esp David Joyner), but there is probably
much more that could be done.
Please share your thoughts!
-- William
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Joel B. Mohler
2007-08-08 14:19:47 UTC
Permalink
I've never used colinux, but why is vmware a preferable choice than colinux?
I would think that it would be much easier to get something that felt like a
native windows application with colinux. I also think that it makes more
sense in the long term (that is, virtualization is the wave of the future.
VMWare looks good for the moment, but it doesn't appear to me to make much
sense on the desktop -- we need *application level* virtualization to make
things feel good on the desktop. Perhaps VMWare does more than I think, but
I always thought it just provided a mass window to a pseudo-machine and
didn't allow sensible window-manager-like support.)

Anyhow, an idea that builds on this is to build some X application instead of
the notebook (ok, I'll admit I'm not a fan of the web notebook) and
distribute a free x-server for windows with SAGE for windows. I believe that
there might be an x-server out there which could make this feel like a very
native solution. Of course, there's still the file transfer problem ... that
is, the file system of colinux is distinct from the windows file system.

--
Joel

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Bill Page
2007-08-08 17:24:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Joel B. Mohler
I've never used colinux, but why is vmware a preferable choice than colinux?
I would think that it would be much easier to get something that felt like a
native windows application with colinux.
I think both vmware and colinux do very clumsy things to the Windows
network configuration. These have caused me trouble on several
occasions. On Windows I find Microsoft's Virtual PC to be simpler and
superior:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx

I use it to run both SuSE 10 and Solaris 10.2 on my Windows
dual-processor desktop very happily.
Post by Joel B. Mohler
Anyhow, an idea that builds on this is to build some X application instead of
the notebook (ok, I'll admit I'm not a fan of the web notebook) and
distribute a free x-server for windows with SAGE for windows. I believe that
there might be an x-server out there which could make this feel like a very
native solution.
I run Xming and Putty:

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=156984&package_id=222154

to provide x-server support under Windows. I use it to run Linux
x-windows applications like the Axiom HyperDoc browser and graphics on
my Windows desktop. Xmaxima should be ok too. I rarely touch the
virtual machine itself.

Xming creates application windows that look and feel a lot like
Windows windows (depending on the actual UI). For example you can run
FireFox as a x-windows application on the same virtual machine that is
running Sage. Except for some font differences it looks and works very
nearly the same as native Windows FireFox. This seems faster for
running the notebook than running native Windows FireFox and accessing
the notebook "remotely".
Post by Joel B. Mohler
Of course, there's still the file transfer problem ... that
is, the file system of colinux is distinct from the windows file system.
The usual solution is to mount a Windows shared directory via Samba smbfs.

The big problem with all this is it assumes a fair amount of
sophistication for the average Windows user and some knowledge of
Linux fundamentals. I do not know how or if it is possible to create a
single installer file that would install all of this in one step on a
virgin Windows system (with Administrator rights, of course).

Regards,
Bill Page.

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Ted Kosan
2007-08-08 17:03:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
Linux Binary
42
OS X Binary
42
Source
91
VMware (= Windows)
57
Total .................................. 232
In addition to download statistics, I would also be interested in
seeing what Sage's usage numbers look like when used as a web service.
I started playing with Google analytics recently and what comes to
mind is to place a small tracking script in the notebook similar to
the script that Google analytics has web sites place into their web
pages.

It might even be possible to actually use Google analytics to track
global Sage notebook usage.

Ted

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Chris Chiasson
2007-08-09 01:00:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ted Kosan
It might even be possible to actually use Google analytics to track
global Sage notebook usage.
If this is implemented, could this please be restricted to
sagemath.org?


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William Stein
2007-08-09 05:47:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Chiasson
Post by Ted Kosan
It might even be possible to actually use Google analytics to track
global Sage notebook usage.
If this is implemented, could this please be restricted to
sagemath.org?
Yes, it would definitely be restricted.

We've discussed stuff like this before on sage-devel, and the
decision was made to not put any automatic "call home" features
in SAGE. For example, SAGE won't automatically check for
updates, report usage patterns, etc., without the user explicitly
doing something to "opt in".

-- William

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Ted Kosan
2007-08-09 06:16:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by William Stein
We've discussed stuff like this before on sage-devel, and the
decision was made to not put any automatic "call home" features
in SAGE. For example, SAGE won't automatically check for
updates, report usage patterns, etc., without the user explicitly
doing something to "opt in".
The Sage server we are setting up at our university will serve all of
our university students, all the high schools in our region, and all
the high schools that we are serving via distance learning. We are
definitely going to want to collect usage statistics on how the
service is being used and we would be willing to share this
information with the Sage development team.

So, what do we need to do in order to "opt in"?

Ted

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William Stein
2007-08-09 06:22:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ted Kosan
Post by William Stein
We've discussed stuff like this before on sage-devel, and the
decision was made to not put any automatic "call home" features
in SAGE. For example, SAGE won't automatically check for
updates, report usage patterns, etc., without the user explicitly
doing something to "opt in".
The Sage server we are setting up at our university will serve all of
our university students, all the high schools in our region, and all
the high schools that we are serving via distance learning. We are
definitely going to want to collect usage statistics on how the
service is being used and we would be willing to share this
information with the Sage development team.
So, what do we need to do in order to "opt in"?
Nobody has actually written any code in SAGE yet in order to
record any notebook usage statistics. It would be fairly
easy to add hooks into the notebook to record certain things
to a log file. It would be very helpful if somebody (e.g., you
and maybe other people), could just use the notebook and think
about what sorts of things you would like to be able to have
logged. Then post a list to this thread. Thanks!

-- William

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