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Wolfram seems to be reorganizing its on-line documentation and thereby breaking some links from this site. I learned this today when Saturisk left a comment to one of my answers saying a link I'd made to a documentation page was broken. It turned out to be easy to repair, but I worry that this may be the tip of a broken-link iceberg; that Wolfram may be reorganizing all of its on-line documentation causing many links on site to soon break if they haven't already.

The old link was http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/ref/JSON.html
The new link is http://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/format/JSON.html

The change needed to restore the link was substituting language/ref/format for mathematica/ref.

The old link was made using the Ref button from halirutan's button plug-in, so users of that plug-in should take note and fix their documentation links should they fail to work.

Update

I started checking some of links appearing in rm -rf's list. The all seem to work as is. It seems redirection is working for these links and only old links that need to put into the form

http://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/format/

are not being redirected. If this finding holds up, then the problem is nowhere as severe as I feared.

P.S. And it's not 'mathematica` that is causing the problem in the broken links -- it's the absence of 'format'. Even

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/ref/format/JSON.html

gets redirected properly. I guess this is why it took so long before a broken link was discovered -- there are really not that many. I apologize for crying "Wolfram" :-)

  • Related: (259) – Mr.Wizard Mar 25 '15 at 5:39
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    Since the change here involves two things and in other situations only one (Mathematica->language) correcting existing links may be hard to automize. Nasty. – Sjoerd C. de Vries Mar 25 '15 at 6:33
  • @mr.wizard Could we have a feature request or so to repair this? I mean, even if we could edit all q&a's to reflect the new links there are still a zillion links in comments that we can't change. We need help from the SE developers. – Sjoerd C. de Vries Mar 25 '15 at 7:19
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    @Sjoerd I think we should see how this plays out a bit more before we involve the SE developers. Can we compile a list of all of the broken links so that a pattern can be discerned? – Mr.Wizard Mar 25 '15 at 7:23
  • @Mr.Wizard. Perhaps people could post any broken links they find as answers to this question? – m_goldberg Mar 25 '15 at 14:32
  • Where did you get the old link from? The V8 and V9 documentation centers both link to mathematica/ref/format/JSON.html, which the WRI web site successfully redirects to language/ref/format/JSON.html. V10 links directly to the new location. Maybe some microrev of Mathematica had a broken link that has since been fixed? – WReach Mar 25 '15 at 21:15
  • @WReach. Read the last paragraph in my question post. It explains the source of the link. – m_goldberg Mar 26 '15 at 2:35
  • Oh, I just noticed @WReach's comment and your reply... so the issue is really w/ the plugin and not with WRI, since they're redirecting. I understand the limitations of the plugin though, and why this is not possible without hardcoding some of the /format/ logic into the plugin... This is probably lower priority than if it were a site-wide issue w/ WRI. – rm -rf Mar 26 '15 at 5:10
  • @rm-rf. I have edited the title to make what I hope is a clearer statement the problem – m_goldberg Mar 26 '15 at 6:28
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I just wanted to point out, that there is absolutely no intelligence in the ref-button! Although one cannot completely understand the whole code from this snippet, I guess it becomes clear anyway what it does

ReplaceMarkdown(
  'Mathematica Function (like Integrate, Plot, ..)',
  '[`#INPUT#`](http://reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/#INPUT#.html)',
  function(answer){ return answer.replace(/^`(.*)`$/g, "\$1" ); })

The function was never intended to work always but as a thing that helps very often. I already pointed this out in my original post:

If you look at the URL style of e.g.

http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica/ref/Plot.html

you see, that Plot can be exchanged with most other Mathematica functions and it works, because most of them have a reference page. Now wouldn't it be awesome if we had an additional button on the editor toolbar which when clicked transforms the marked text PlotStyle into PlotStyle? This won't work for all functions but I'm sure, it helps quite a lot.

I know I don't have to defend this, but what I wanted to point out is that it was planned from the beginning, that you have to check every inserted reference when you use this button.

On the other hand, if WRI now starts to change some URLs, there is nothing we could have done in the first place. Changing a published API (or in this case documentation) for such a large software is one of the worst things you can do.

Finally, if the button is supposed to work correctly, then there is IMO no other way except hard-coding the valid URLs for all possible functions, options, import/export formats, etc.. which would be quite a large list.

  • When I first posted this question, I didn't know that WRI was redirecting the links, so I thought updating your plug-in would be necessary. Now that I know that redirection is taking place, I consider my post to be no more than an alert making people aware of a situation when the results produced by the ref button require some further editing. I hope that is clear in the post as it currently stands. I am sorry about being an alarmist at first. – m_goldberg Mar 30 '15 at 18:12
  • @m_goldberg No, it's absolutely OK. I just wanted to repeat at this place that the ref-button has absolutely no intelligence and that users need to check the links it's inserting. – halirutan Mar 30 '15 at 19:28
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Here's a list of all questions and answers on the site that contain a link to http://reference.wolfram.com/mathematica. The list is sorted by views, so that we can start fixing the most helpful/viewed ones first. There are about 3.5k posts that have the old URLs.

  • I think all those links are OK. see my update to the question. I'm sorry that I caused you to waste your time on compiling the list. – m_goldberg Mar 26 '15 at 7:11
  • @rm - rf, out of curiosity how did you manage to find all the posts that reference this url ? – faysou Mar 30 '15 at 6:13
  • @faysou the query I wrote is in the link with all the urls – rm -rf Mar 30 '15 at 6:41

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