Another Notebook-UI Cloud Environment – WolframCloud

If Wolfram didn’t make it so difficult to gain free and open access to their tools, I’d probably use them – and blog about them – a lot more. But as the impression I always seem to come away with is that it’ll probably cost me, or others, a not insignificant amount to use the tools regularly, or I’ll find myself using a proprietary (not open) system, I’m loath to invest much time in their products and even less likely to write about it and do their advertising for them.

But that’s not to say that they aren’t doing some interesting and probably useful stuff, or that my impressions are correct. A few weeks ago, for example, I came across the Wolfram Cloud that provides online access to Wolfram Mathematica Notebooks:


Access is free, once you’ve given them an email address and a password, and allows you to create up to 5 notebooks and create 30 day “cloud deployments” (Mathematica objects that can be accessed via a URL – very nifty tool for quick interactive web publishing, but it just all feels too closed for me…:-(

And too commercially driven…


So what’s actually involved with the collaboration capabilities, I wonder? “As an instructor, share editable Explorations and notebooks with your students, creating an interactive learning environment.” Does that mean collaborative editing, so a tutor and a student can edit the same notebook at the same time and follow each other’s work? No idea – I can’t find a way to try it and if they want to make it that hard for me to evaluate their offering I won’t bother…

By the by, it’s also worth noting that having bought in to a plan, you then need to start watching how you spend credit within that plan…


I guess I want my computing to be in principle free and in principle open… and it seems to me that there is nothing in principle free (or open?) about anything to do with Mathematica… (I always get the feeling I should be grateful they’re letting me try something out…)

An approach – and all round offering – I personally find far more compelling is SageMathCloud (review).

See also: IBM DataScientistWorkBench = OpenRefine + RStudio + Jupyter Notebooks in the Cloud, Via Your Browser and Course Management and Collaborative Jupyter Notebooks via SageMathCloud.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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