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