Math was not my friend for the first half of my life. Basic math I could handle well enough, but I struggled mightily with geometry, gnashed my teeth with trigonometry, and often felt vanquished by most potent foe, calculus.
That was then, and this is now, and a dozen great math instructors later I’m so comfortable with math that I teach at local community college. Math is best understood when presented in a more digestible manner. So, how does one get all those mathematical and scientific expressions into a document to share with a class of less than eager math beavers? It’s magic. MathMagic.
Simply put, MathMagic is a math and scientific equation editor for Mac users. If the closest you get to math is a monthly blank stare at your bank statement, then move along, there’s nothing to see here. MathMagic is magic for those who need to get their math and science into a document.
The most well-known example of a math and science formula editor is Microsoft’s Equation Editor. Think of it as point and click equations in a document.
MathMagic is a mature formula editor with a Mac heritage, hence it’s user friendly in ways that mathematicians and scientists appreciate.
Point and click is good for grandma, and it’s good for the professor who wants to publish that which he or she cherishes—a personal creation.
1 – Floating Palettes
Remember palettes? Those floating boxes of features and usefulness that share a common bond between Mac graphic users and the scientific community that use Macs. MathMagic uses the same basic floating equation palettes, which gives you just the tool or utility or feature you need, but only when you need it.
Use palettes to create complex or intricate math equations quickly, and easily, and with only the gray matter effort that you need, and then, take your creation and park it in the Mac document editor of your choice.
Templates and symbols are merely a click away. The interface is simple and elegant. If math is poetry, and science the result of logic and physics, then Henry David Thoreau would be a Mac user. And use MathMagic.
2 – 2+2=Productivity
The scientific community prefers efficiency and tend to be Mac power users, hence the multitude of predefined keyboard shortcuts. Nothing says inefficiency than looking through 14 layers of menus to get to a needed tool or feature (Microsoft, I’m looking at you).
MathMagic lets you do your own creative thing, but in a logical, scientific way, so shortcuts can be done your way, too. Multiple levels of undo protect what you did. Multiple style sets make it easier to share your settings with others.
3 – It Does Windows
Sharing is a hallmark of an equation editor. After all, you’re putting into a document all those numbers and formulas that have been floating around in your head since you dreamed of creating your own flubber after watching The Absent Minded Professor way back in the day.
Or, the one with Robin Williams if you’re closer to my age. Coming back to reality, MathMagic does Windows, so it’s perfectly comfortable as an equation editor that everyone can use.
By everyone, I mean everyone using Mac or Windows, or Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress, and even that professor in the office lab down the hall still using a Mac Classic.
4 – Happy Days Family
MathMagic is comfortable with other community players, too. Including PDF documents (Macs love to export PDFs), AppleWorks (yes, Virginia, it’s alive and in use, almost as long as we’ve had math on a computer), Keynote, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, as well as Illustrator and Photoshop.
Science is just one big happy family, whether you’re sharing formulas via the web, within a document layout, a scientific report or journal, or, just printing it out so others can take a gander at what you did.
That’s the first four of the Top 7. Continue to Page 2 for the Top 3 ways MathMagic is magic on a Mac.
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5 – We Are Font Family
Publishing is the name of the game and MathMagic delivers what’s important with precision accuracy and typesetting tools to die for.
TrueType, PostScript, and OpenType are all supported formats, so your document will have appropriate symbols for the right equations, no matter what your scientific or mathematical preference.
All the fonts you need are included and work well in your Mac document maker of choice.
Fields of Dream
These days I’m into disputing the theory of No Learning Curve Required, but MathMagic comes close, because it resembles a word processor. As we all know, Mac users are not intimidated by word processors, so think of this as the math cousin of Pages.
The real learning curve for an equation editor comes two ways—before and after MathMagic. Before MathMagic you need to know something about the fine arts of math, science, physics, electronics, or the black arts of statistics and accounting (Bernie Maddoff, I’m looking at you).
After MathMagic you need to know what to do with all that science and math that rumbles through your gray matter. That said, the learning curve for using MathMagic doesn’t really exist since you can start right away.
Create a new document, and treat the elements as if they’re desktop publishing tools—because they are. The tools and palettes will be familiar if you’ve ever indulged in InDesign or QuarkXPress.
6 – Expansion League
Actually, MathMagic comes with multiple versions, including MathMagic Pro for InDesign, MathMagic Pro for QuarkXPress, in addition to the Mac and Windows versions, and a Personal Edition.
I have a couple of issues. The first is with the latest personal edition of MathMagic. Tabs. Yes, there are tabs on the palettes, though they’re reminiscent of yesteryear, and unlike the tabbed interface in many Mac utilities and applications today. Some tabs are just that, tabs. Others are merely buttons disguised as tabs. Nit picky, yes.
You get full control over symbol creation and manipulation, down to points or percent of slopes, ratios, thickness, subscript and even sub-subscript depth. Experimentation is allowed. One click gets you back to default settings.
The other issue, and it’s one that plagues the creative community no end, is palettes. Maybe it’s something to do with the desire to use only the tool you need at the time you need it, hence only use the palette you need at the time. I just get lost with more than four palettes open and floating around my Mac’s screen.
There’s a lot to like with MathMagic. It’s cross platform (sorry Linux users, but we know most of you prefer Macs over Windows) and works with any popular word processor or publishing application (if yours isn’t on the list, it isn’t popular).
The learning curve to decent productivity is modest, though, again, you need to know your sciences going in, otherwise it might was well be a palette loaded with Greek fonts.
7 – Money Matters
Finally, MathMagic, relative to other equation editors is friendly on the budget. There’s a hefty discount for the academic version, which includes free updates. There’s even a one-month license to get your feet wet, or if you’re on a deadline to publish before retirement.