The VisualDSolve application

The VisualDSolve application consists of a Mathematica package, called VisualDSolve, together with an e-book that contains a complete user guide (chapters 1–5) and 13 additional chapters with examples.

Installation instructions

VisualDSolve is distributed as a zip file. Once unzipped, you get the VisualDSolve folder containing all necessary files. There are two possibilities of installing these files so that Mathematica will be able to find them.

Automatic installation

Launch Mathematica and choose Install in the File menu. The type of item to be installed is Application, and the source is the VisualDSolve folder (choose From Directory and find the folder on your disk). Finally, you have to decide whether the application should be available to all users, or to the current user only.

Restart Mathematica after the installation is complete. The VisualDSolve application will appear in the documentation center under “AddOns and Packages”.

Manual installation

Mathematica applications are usually stored in one of two directories, $BaseDirectory or $UserBaseDirectory. The location of these directories depends on your platform and Mathematica installation. For example, one sees the following after evaluating $BaseDirectory on a Macintosh:

$BaseDirectory

/Library/Mathematica

The difference between the two directories is that $BaseDirectory contains applications available to all users of the computer, while $UserBaseDirectory stores applications that are visible only to the current user (note that the value of $UserBaseDirectory depends on which user is currently logged in).

Choose one of these destinations and copy the whole VisualDSolve folder to the Applications subdirectory (i.e. to $BaseDirectory/Applications/ or to $UserBaseDirectory/Applications/).

Under Windows, $BaseDirectory usually evaluates to “C:\Documents and Setttings\All Users\Application Data\Mathematica” or something similar. Note that “Application Data” is a hidden directory, so you might have to adjust your file manager to show hidden files.

On a Macintosh, $BaseDirectory usually evaluates to “/Users/username/Library/Mathematica”. In order to work with this directory, depress the option key while clicking on GO in the Finder menu; the Library will then appear in the list of choices.

Restart Mathematica after the installation is complete. The VisualDSolve application will then appear in the documentation center under “AddOns and Packages”.

Accessing the book chapters

Once the application is installed, there are two ways to access the book. One can go to the documentation center, click “AddOns and Packages” at lower left, and then click the >> button at the end of VisualDSolve. This brings up the VisualDSolve Table of Contents, with links to each chapter.

A second way is to place a direct link to the guide in the Palettes menu. Do this by going to that menu and choosing “Install Palette”. The source should be chosen to be the VisualDSolvePalette.nb file that resides in the VisualDSolve installation folder.

The palette name can be VisualDSolve User Guide, or just VisualDSolve. It will appear in the Palettes menu for easy access.

Using the package

Detailed instructions are given in Chapters 1–5 of the book. An important point is that the package must be loaded before using any of the commands. This is done by any one of the following methods.

Get["VisualDSolve`"]

<< VisualDSolve`

Needs["VisualDSolve`VisualDSolve`"]

After the package is installed you should evaluate one of these lines, and then evaluate `?VisualDSolve` to see if you get the usage message for the `VisualDSolve` function, which indicates that all is working properly.

If you wish to use the package in an instructional environment with many users, then a licensing agreement should be worked out with Wolfram Research, Inc.

Enjoy.