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Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

(OP)
Hello,

This is my first post on Eng-tips, I'm looking for some help in choosing software.

I need some software to develop some computational tools and present the analysis methods and results.
The maths will mostly be pretty basic textbook theory, so the mathematics isn't too involved.
These tools will be used to demonstrate compliance showing, so it would be nice if the results would be easily turned into a readable and well presented reports.

The two programs which I have experience in, are MathCAD and MatLab.
My opinions are based on limited experience, but as far as I can tell each has a number of strong advantages and disadvantages with respect to my requirements.

MathCAD makes very nice reports, very easily. And since the math is shown in proper mathematical notation, it's easy to follow.
Putting in figures and tables and stuff in the middle of the calulcations is a doddle.
Handles units automatically, minimizing risk of errors, and can evaluate things symbolically, and therefore exactly.
It seems crashy, the online help seems very limited, especially compared to MatLab. and quite frankly I just simply hate it.

MatLab is much easier to get on with in my opinion, but that's maybe just because I've used it a lot more. Loads of built in helpful functions, and great online help.
It's only major downfalls to me seem to be it's inability to work in units, and the difficulty/labour in getting readable reports out of it showing the code and supporting figures/images etc.
A report generator toolbox is available, but I don't know how good or usable it is.
The fact that MatLab cannot evaluate symbolically or precisely doesn't bother me too much (we're doing engineering after all)

What would people recommend? Has anybody used the report generator in MatLab?
Am I wrong in my opinion on either of these software?
What about other available software? Mathematica for example, seems quite popular?
Also what about MathCAD Prime? I've only used the original MathCAD.

Cheers!

RE: Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

I would agree with the general sentiment; I'm much more of a Mathcad user than Matlab, and I think that the choice is very heavily dependent on application and usage. The inability to use units is usually a complete deal-breaker for me, because my customers, who ought to know better still randomly use differing units in differing disciplines, although that's gotten much better, but US customary still creeps in occasionally.

However, Matlab reigns supreme as a procedural programming environment, and if that's critical to your application, then you're stuck, although, it might behoove you to consider Python, which is FREE, as are almost all of its toolkits. Did I mention it's free? And there are two competing IDEs Spyder and Canopy. Python is really big in the scientific lab community, and the freeness is very appealing to those types. Python also has hooks into some other free/open software, like ImageJ and Fiji.

However, Matlab does also have freeware compatible competitors, like Octave and SciLab, although I've been told that SciLab is less compatible than Octave.

Mathematica, Maple, etc., are, I think, primarily for symbolic applications.

A tool that used to be more prominent is TK!Solver, which I've only a passing familiarity with, but I think it can handle units with some prodding.

Mathcad Prime is a complete re-write of Mathcad that PTC has undertaken to get rid of some legacy bugs and issues. However, any version below MP3 is substantially less capable than M15, but my recollection is that MP5 will be the first version of Prime that would be functionally comparable to M15. Note that PTC allows you to use a crippled version of Prime permanently for free, so you can try it out and see if it's to your liking. The WSIWYG graphics and graphing are substantially improved over M15, but it was horrifically slow in loading, so I'm still using M15 as long as it'll execute on my computers. So far, Windows 10 seems to get along with M15.

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

(OP)
Thankyou IRstuff, That's very helpful.

I realise after having slept on it, my question is a bit like asking which is better, chalk or cheese?

The software are built for different things, and are proficient in different areas because of that.

My real dilemma is that I think I could probably get to the results we're looking for with either of these two pieces of software.
Currently, I could get there a bit quicker with MatLab I think, because I'm reasonably proficient in it (relative to mathCAD at least)
But if mathCAD is truly the better software long term, then I should propose that the company purchase this instead of MatLab, despite having to teach myself how to use it.

The tools we intent to develop would be for internal use only really, so it wouldn't be hard to enforce a strict SI only units policy to avoid errors there.
The other thing is, we often are required to analyse masses of data collected from strain gauges/sensors etc logging at 100Hz for example.
What is mathCAD like at handling masses of numerical data? does anybody have any experience in this?

Regarding Python, I had thought that this was a programming language, similar to C or something, which is used by Linux users and such like?

RE: Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

Mathcad's primary purpose has always been the WSIWYG graphical display of textbook-like calculations. As such its speed for processing large amounts of data is not anywhere as good as Matlab's. That said, you need specify what you mean by "masses of numerical data;" are we talking thousands or millions of data points? If the latter, I would stick with Matlab or Python, and use Mathcad as the prototyping environment, i.e., write and debug the algorithm in Mathcad, and then implement in Matlab or Python.

re. Python, unless you are seriously tied up with the (EXPENSIVE) Matlab toolboxes, Python could be ideal. Python is actually a command-line environment, but no one really likes to use that, so the IDEs look pretty much like Matlab:
[crud] I can't do the embedded graphic function at work, so you'll have to download the screenshot:
http://files.engineering.com/download.aspx?folder=...

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

RE: Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

Quote:

Python is actually a command-line environment, but no one really likes to use that, so the IDEs look pretty much like Matlab:

Excel makes a pretty good front-end to Python, in my opinion.

Or more like Python (+ Numpy and Scipy) makes a pretty good back end to Excel.

Doug Jenkins
Interactive Design Services
http://newtonexcelbach.wordpress.com/

RE: Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

(OP)
Thanks again for your responses everyone.

So I've been playing about with MathCAD 15 a bit.
I still hate it.
I don't find it intuitive to use, and I'm struggling for any good reference material.
Even googleing my issues tends to return nothing!
Any good reference material out there??
MathCAD prime, although it seems to get some seriously bad press amongst long term MathCAD users, seems better to use to me compared with mathCAD 15, although I haven't used it very much as yet.

Some of the stuff in it is very nice. Units are definitely a big plus.

Anyway, I've always installed Spyder, as part of of the Anaconda package on windows, and I have a laptop with Ubuntu too.
I see now why you have recommended it IRStuff.
The notebook app Greg mentioned is very interesting too.

Also, not surprisingly, this question has been asked before for anyone reading this and looking for more info.
http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=61185

That was 2003 though. Software tends to get a fair way in 13 years I guess.

RE: Which software to go for, MatLab, Maple, MathCAD, Maxima, Mathematica ???

Your best bet for help is to either ask for it in the Mathcad forum here or at PTC. The PTC user forum site does contain a lot of existing sheets. Do you have specific questions that you want to ask here?

I think Prime is very similar, for the most part; the WYSIWYG graphics is certainly prettier,

Note that M15 is actually circa 2003 or 4 or 5, so, not as much change as one might have thought winky smile

TTFN
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
homework forum: //www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

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