Wednesday, April 13, 2022

WordMat v. 1.24

This is a major release with a number of new featues, focusing on a stronger interaction with GeoGebra

News in this version:

  • Alternate CAS engine: GeoGebra
  • Maxima version aligned and updated to 5.45.1 for Windows and both Mac-versions
  • New Plotting option: 'GeoGebra Browser'
    • Much faster than GeoGebra 5
    • Still runs offline and does not require internet access 
  • GnuPlot removed from the Mac version. It never really worked well on Mac. The new 'GeoGebra browser' plotting option replaces it.
  • Simultaneous equation solving now works on Mac-M1
  • Volume of revolution now works on Mac with GeoGebra
  • 3D plot now works on Mac
  • Numeric differential equation solver now works on Mac
  • Convertion to GeoGebra syntax now also works for vectors and matrices (dot product, has to be applied using dot(u,v), not by using a dot-operator)
  • Latex template now works on Mac
  • Many minor bug fixes

GeoGebra Browser plotting option

WordMat now ships with 'GeoGebra-math-app-bundle' which is used for the 'GeoGebra Browser' plotting option. It is easy to insert a screenshot of the plot:
  • From the GeoGebra menu choose 'Export image' and 'copy to clipboard'. Finally paste into Word.
  • On Windows GeoGebra will open in Edge.
    Click 'ctrl+chift +s' to take a screenshot and choose from 'Capture area' or 'Capture full page'
  • On Mac GeoGebra will open in Safari.
    Click Shift+Command+4 to capture a selected portion of a screen.

GeoGebra for CAS

The 'GeoGebra-math-app-bundle' is also used as an alternative/backup CAS engine. In the settings menu on the CAS-tab, you can now choose between

  1. Maxima
  2. GeoGebra
  3. GeoGebra broweser

If you do any calculation or solve an equation, the chosen CAS engine will be applied.
An alternative CAS engine has a couple of obvious benefits:

  • If one engine fails to solve a particular problem, you might have better luck trying the alternative. 
  • Maxima has been shown to be very vulnerable to changes in updates to MacOS. Now there is a backup. 

GeoGebra CAS option

With this option WordMat operates just as with Maxima. The result is written directly in Word. The user will in most cases not see any difference.
The input syntax in Word is basically the same for both engines, but there are some differences.

Generally Maxima is a stronger CAS tool, and more consistent. It also has a larger library of functions to draw from. However GeoGebra also has functions which are better than Maxima's. GeoGebra is also faster.

Key points to be aware of:

  • Be careful when using variables of more than one letter, when using GeoGebra. ab can be interpreted as a*b or the variabel ab, depending on the circumstances. 

  Note on GeoGebra CAS on Mac

On Mac GeoGebra runs in a tab in safari, which is automatically opened. WordMat can then send and receive commands in the background.
Unfortunately it requires a special setting in Safari to allow 3rd party programs to send commands to Safari.

  1. Open Safari settings
  2. Click advanced
  3. At the bottom click 'show developer menu'
  4. Open the newly available Safari developer menu
  5. Click 'Allow javascript from Apple events' (near the bottom of the list)
  6. When doing the first calculation with WordMat you will be prompted to allow it.

Make sure not to allow javascript communication from other programs you don't trust.

GeoGebra browser CAS option
Will open GeoGebra in a browser and show the answer to a calculation, equation solving etc.. Definitions are applied just as in the Maxima case. The syntax is converted to GeoGebra syntax. trig functions are applied according to the radian setting in WordMat. Just as the 'GeoGebra browser' plotting option, you can then copy the result to Word.

It is important to stress that WordMat does not communicate via internet when using the GeoGebra options, even though it works via a browser. All required files are installed and run on the local computer.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

WordMat for Mac M1 released

This is the first release that support the 'new' Mac M1 processor.

A number of problems had to be overcome to create this release. The main problem was that the Math engine 'Maxima' did not run on M1-processor with the rosetta emulator.

  1. First the compiler for SBCL that compiles Maxima had to be created for Maxima. 

  2. Maxima for WordMat was running an older version of Maxima, because the deployment system for newer systems changed to Macports. Eventually I could use Macports to get a compiled version of Maxima for M1. The installer had to rewritten from scratch.

  3. WordMat does not run a standard version of Maxima, but included a lot of additional code. This code had to be updated to match the new Maxima version.

  4. The c-library to communicate between Maxima and Windows was easily compiled for M1, but I simply could not make it work with the new version of Maxima, after many, many attempts. Eventually a new method for communication was developed. The new method starts a new instance of Maxima for each calculation. This makes WordMat a bit slower, but not much as the M1-processor is pretty fast. Coming from a 2 year old computer you will not notice it. 

The new method has a couple of advantages that should make WordMat more stable for Mac:

  • A fresh version of Maxima for every calculation means previous calculation cannot interfere
  • The new method has a default timeout of about 15s. If Maxima does not finish, the process will be killed. On previous versions this could halt Word.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

WordMat v. 1.12 released

This release mainly fixes bugs from the previous major release, such as problems with logarithms and using exact mode on the Mac version, but also several other minor bugs.

This version introduces one new feature: An updated Excel sheets to easily do regression and plot residuals. It can be a tool for both mathematics and science subjects to make graphing in Excel easier and better looking.
You open the Excel sheet from the regressions menu or the Graph menu.

The screenshot below shows some of the features

  • Enter up to 3 datasets which shows up as points in different colors
  • Perform 'on the fly' regression, quickly testing the match of different regression types
  • Residual plot to better analyze the regression fit
  • Manually enter any function (here the black dashed linje 2x+3)
    You can enter a function using constants which then can be manipulated in the constants column for a precise fit.
  • Highlight any point (the red dashed line)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Backspace crash problem resolved

For years there has been a bug in Word which would crash Word on certain occasions, if you pressed backspace in an equation.
Microsoft has now resolved the problem - all you need to do is update Office 365. It must be at least build 7070. (Files | Account | Office updates)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

WordMat for Mac - Word 2016 released

Finally you can download the new version for Mac for Word 2016.
The code behind the Windows and Mac version is now from the same code base and hence the version numbers will be the same for Windows and Mac. It is planned that future releases for Windows and Mac will happen simultaneously. The current version is called v. 1.11

Also with this version WordMat is now 100% translated into english, and partially to spanish. The code has been prepared for translation into other languages. If you wish to contribute by translating WordMat completely or partially into your native language - send me an email.

This version also brings a popular function to the front of the menu. You can open a LaTex template from the WordMat menu and start creating LaTex documents using Word.

Get the new version here:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Microsoft Forms now support Math

My School adopted SharePoint/o365 as a learning platform 1½ ago. Since then I have become a big fan of OneNote and more recently Microsoft Forms.
I have used Microsoft Forms to create:
  • Quick surveys
  • Polls
  • Gather information from a group of people
  • School wide evaluations 
  • In class quizzes embedded in OneNote.
What I like about Forms is that it is extremely fast and intuitive. You can literally create and deploy a survey in less than a minute. At a first glance it can seem like a very simple survey application, but there are some powerful features hidden beneath the hood.
A few days ago Microsoft launched Math support for Forms, at the Bett conference in London. As a math teacher this is very exciting. I have developed a lot of math quizzes using Moodle, which is a very powerful quiz-tool especially when it comes to math support. Unfortunately development of quizzes for Moodle is not for everyone. It requires a lot of training and it can be a tedious time consuming proces. I'm hoping that Forms can be my new best friend when it comes to creating tests and quizzes for formative feedback, as time is scarce.
My initial test shows the following main features of math support in Forms:
  • Type math using on screen template, keyboard shortcuts or Latex for complete control (You can use WordMat to create any math output using the 'convert to Latex' function - alt+t )
  • Auto suggestion of correct answers to your math input  (Yes - and quite powerful!)

The results of quizzes can be graded automatically or manually. Multiple choice questions are graded automatically, whereas text or number input must be graded manually. Hopefully an option for automatic grading of text and number will soon be available. The manual grading feature is quite clever though, you can choose to grade all of the answers to a specific question on one page.
This is a link to a sample Forms quiz using math

Also check out my video demonstrating Math support in Forms:

If you are using OneNote class notebook, deploying the form is as simple as pasting the Forms link on any page. It will then automatically be embedded within that page. You can create forms which only your school students can access, or open anonymous forms which anyone can answer.
It is also very easy to share a Form you have created. You can create a link, which any teacher can use to get a copy of your form(Without the responses😉), or you can create a link to collaborate on a form with your colleagues.

Forms is a new application and still a work in progress. It is going to be exciting to see what new functionality the future will bring. The speed of the development has been quite fast thus far.

Forms is only available for schools with an Office 365 Educaton plan - which comes free of charge.

Friday, January 27, 2017

WordMat for Mac for Word 2016 in development

When the initial release of Word 2016 for Mac was released I was unable to convert WordMat for Word 2011 to the new version.
Since then Word 2016 has been significantly improved in terms of stability and features, and more importantly Microsoft has supplied contacts and documentation from the Office devolpment team in Redmond. This has removed all obstacles, and the development is now entering the final phases. Currently a prototype is being tested at my school.

The new version will be more similar to the Windows version than the Word 2011 version was. It will have exactly the same ribbon, and installation will be smooth - requiring no manual steps.

 Expected release is date 1. march 2017.