3
$\begingroup$

I was reading Wolfram's explanation at this page of what CDF is, i.e.

Today's online documents are like yesterday's paper—flat, lifeless, inactive. Instead, CDF puts easy-to-author interactivity at its core, empowering readers to drive content and generate results live.

Launched by Wolfram, the CDF standard is a computation-powered knowledge container—as everyday as a document, but as interactive as an app.

So, it seems this is a standard. But I failed to find any documentation on the format itself. Is it an open format? Can I make my own independent software which would create CDF files which CDFPlayer can play? Or am I supposed to always need Mathematica to create CDF files?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/3964/understanding-cdf $\endgroup$ – Kuba Jan 26 '18 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ You are right, I made a mistake, I will delete those comments to not confuse readers. $\endgroup$ – Kuba Jan 26 '18 at 19:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Apparently, there does exist a text format acceptable for Free Player (e.g. this code can be saved as .cdf and opened and manipulated). But if you change the code and don't update NotebookSignature line accordingly, it will be useless with Free Player, since dynamic content will be disabled there. $\endgroup$ – Ruslan Jan 26 '18 at 20:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ actually your comment about the NotebookSignature does answer the question, doesn't it? As a CDF file is only valid with that signature and these signatures exist so that only WRI software can generate valid CDF files the format is proprietary by design. Even without the signature, as there is no official documentation of the file content I would think that excludes it from being an open format... $\endgroup$ – Albert Retey Jan 26 '18 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ @AlbertRetey my comment summarized results of my experiments. The question was more about the official position of WRI regarding openness of CDF. Otherwise it's possible to re-create this signature by doing e.g. reverse-engineering etc. (not speaking about its legality here). $\endgroup$ – Ruslan Jan 27 '18 at 7:34
5
$\begingroup$

Apparently it's all in the wording. CDF is stated to be a "public format" and not an "open format". From http://www.wolfram.com/cdf/faq/

CDF documentation 1

CDF documentation 2

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

No, CDF is not an open format. At the highest level, it is structured somewhat like Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), where you typically purchase software that generates PDF (Adobe Illustrator, MS Word, ...) but anyone can get a PDF player for free.

Likewise, one must use Mathematica (or its Wolfram variants) to generate a CDF document, but anyone can download the free CDF player to render and interact with that document.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You don't have to purchase LibreOffice or pdflatex, which also can generate PDF documents. $\endgroup$ – Ruslan Jan 26 '18 at 18:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ True. Fair enough. Indeed PDF became an open format. I think it would be an astoundingly complex and expensive effort, however, to generate CDF with non-proprietary software, and I'm not versed on the legalities of that. $\endgroup$ – David G. Stork Jan 26 '18 at 18:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.