The discussion in the comments in two recent
AspectRatio threads (1,2) has highlighted one important aspect of our established way of expressing our thoughts about the Mathematica (or Wolfram Language) functions: we tend to use the names of built-in system
Symbols instead of the corresponding words of the usual English language. In many cases it allows us to reach wonderful conciseness and exactness of our description at one time. But it also gives a temptation to use names of the
Symbols outside of their field of use. A good example is
The confusion between
PlotRange and "
plot range" has historical prerequisite: before version 6 there was no
PlotRangePadding option and
PlotRange was widely used interchangeably with "
plot range" because they actually meant the same. Starting from version 6, the situation has changed but in many places in the Documentation we still read statements that were not updated since version 5.
PlotRange option along with
PlotRangePadding option determines the range of values of coordinates included inside of the
Frame of the final graphics (even if it is switched off by
The terms "
plot range" and "
plot area" were used long time before version 6 came out where the functions
ImagePadding were introduced. At that time the confusion between
plot range and
plot area was not possible because all of them meant the same: the area on the plot where graphical primitives can potentially be displayed. But now a new user of Mathematica faces a problem similar to the chicken and egg problem: the Documentation mixes definitions which are valid for different versions and makes it impossible to formulate in clear words even basic concepts of the language.
For example, what means the term "
plot area"? The area where graphical primitives can potentially be displayed? But with
PlotRangeClipping->False the graphical primitives which lie in the area determined by
ImagePadding option will be shown what is outside of
It is logical that under
PlotRange we should understand only value of this option, not the complete
plot range. I feel natural to say that
PlotRangePadding increases the
plot range but not the value of the
PlotRange option which remains the same as can be verified by applying
Options[#, PlotRange]&. But I am not sure what currently we should understand under "
plot area". What term should I use if I want to say about the full area where graphical primitives can potentially be displayed (which includes both
I feel that our language when we speak about Mathematica should be regularized in some way. What do you think about it?