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I've evaluated Mathematica several times, including the most recent v9.0, which comes with a "predictive" UI. I don't know much about Mathematica the language or library yet, but I want to use it as an interactive data notebook, e.g. pull down some data from somewhere, work on it, visualize it, etc. This seems like the perfect use for Mathematica, but when I try to use it, the interactive UI is so primitive compared to what I'm used to in Visual Studio (and other tools in the Microsoft ecosystem) that it's hard not to be turned away. For example, when I enter "FinancialData[", I do get a pop-up that leads me to the FinancialData function (so long as I start with capital F and not lowercase F), but I don't get a pop-up that describes the arguments to the FinancialData function. Also, when I execute that function, the entire UI freezes up while the data is fetched over the internet. Can this app, which is all about interating with and visualizing data, really still be this primitive after 9 versions? I have to think I'm using it wrong. Can someone provide some guidance? Thanks!

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closed as not a real question by Jens, Oleksandr R., rcollyer, whuber, rm -rf Dec 27 '12 at 14:14

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Hello Chris, welcome to Mathematica.SE. Your question seems to have a downvote. Please try rephrasing it such that there's less focus on attacking Mathematica and more on the specific attributes you're looking for. Also, this will help with making your question less vague. If you check out the FAQ, you'll be able to sharpen the question and let the users here better address it. –  VF1 Dec 24 '12 at 8:26
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I think you have a rather wrong perspective on the scope, capabilities and use cases for Mathematica, and the associated workflows. Calling it primitive is about the most weird thing I've heard about M in years. Using is as a data analysis / visualization tool is perfectly possible , and it is a very effective tool for it, but it is much more. For one thing, it is full-fledged and perfectly modern and powerful programming language. I highly recommend to browse this site and look for some questions / answers, before you make your judgement. –  Leonid Shifrin Dec 24 '12 at 10:22
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I highly recommend this question and the links in the answers to it, for a start. –  Leonid Shifrin Dec 24 '12 at 10:24
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Although I understand the frustration in the question, I think it's phrased in a way that makes it impossible to give a specific answer as would be expected in this forum. –  Jens Dec 24 '12 at 16:58
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@image_doctor the front end doesn't block when you do a shift+enter computation, only the kernel... You can even still do asyncrhonous computations using dialogs (F7) or the preemptive link (dynamic stuff). It does freeze however with dynamic evaluations –  Rojo Dec 24 '12 at 20:58

1 Answer 1

A simple suggestion to get you started: have a look at the various videos on the Wolfram website. Here's a good place to start - look at the Experts Live section, for example. Because, no matter how much code you read, and documentation you study, there's nothing quite like seeing people type Mathematica code live in front of you.

OK, these folks are experts, and it will take some time to get to their level, but the interactivity is informative and encouraging.

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