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Now that we have a blog, and we can start writing the first post, the question comes up: do we need Computable Document Format (CDF) support on the blog?

Theoretically it should be possible to add CDF support relatively easily because there is an official CDF WordPress plugin, but we need to list some good reasons before this will be given to us. (Here's a short video tutorial on using CDF in WordPress.)

So if you would like to contribute blog posts and you want to use CDF, please explain how and why you are going to use it.

Reasons for using embedded CDF in blog posts:

  • It's really nice that we can try things out right in the browser without needing to download or evaluate anything. The Wolram Blog uses embedded CDFs more and more, and it often improves blog posts considerably, e.g. here.

  • The CDF player can be freely installed on any system, letting us use the interactive parts of the blog post on computers which don't have Mathematica installed (some people might not have access to it at home), or on mobile devices on which Mathematica doesn't work (an iPad version should be coming soon)

Things to consider before adding a CDF to a blog post:

  • When reading the blog post on a machine that doesn't have the CDF player (or Mathematica), the embedded CDF won't work. On Linux machine it'll need to be downloaded before it can be tried, so it doesn't have any advantages over an attached notebook.

    Thus blog posts should not rely on the embedded CDF when they use it, instead they should be enhanced by it.

  • If there's enough demand for CDF support in the blog, we can ask the SE team to install the CDF plugin. They may want to review it first (from a security perspective, I imagine). The purpose of this question is to see how much demand there is for this feature. It'd be nice if you mentioned how you plan to use CDF in your posts. – Szabolcs Jun 25 '12 at 17:11
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    I fully agree with having CDF support for the blog — it will make our blog stand apart from others (not that there are many mma blogs out there...) – rm -rf Jun 25 '12 at 17:30
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    I agree. The blog will be a great way to showcase uses of Mathematica that are not self-contained Demonstrations. – Verbeia Jun 26 '12 at 1:06
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I think the answer here is a definite yes. The only thing I can see that stands against having embedded CDFs is that it might require a small effort from users who do not have Mathematica or the Player installed.

I would like to do a post on GUI-elements and new dynamic controllers, which obviously would benefit from an interactive environment. Also could write about some more scientific stuff, but all of these would heavily rely on interactive examples, that surely would make a blogpost more understandable for anyone.

Your last point (if no player is available, the CDF won't work) is an important caveat indeed. As you said it: the post must contain the same information for both "static" and "dynamic" readers, i.e. if the CDF cannot be loaded, there should be an equivalent image and also the notebook should be attached for downloading. As a conclusion, a post with interactive content is always superior compared to a post with the same but static content, as it has the option to be more than static.

I think the idea that users (hopefully new ones) can not just read and observe static data and visualizations but actually can interact with them is exciting and helpful not just for readers but blog-authors as well. It would also possibly help to attract more people for StackExchange.

  • It was a really bad formulation to say "reasons against", so I changed the wording. – Szabolcs Jun 25 '12 at 17:34
  • @Szabolcs: I've also modified my answer accordingly :) – István Zachar Jun 25 '12 at 18:57

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