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I’m not convinced open source would really help. I get the feeling that Mathematica’s underlying philosophy just isn’t a good fit for practical programming.

I disagree. If it was open source I think enough people would write libraries for it (or add-ons or whatever they would be called) that most if not everything could be done with functions found online. In the rare event that they could not be done you could just create your own. This is similar to my annoyance over Wolfram Alpha being server side when some sort of client side solution would be way better but would involve the source code being available.

You are describing the LaTeX model. You have a lot of packages. When you are lucky all the packages get well together. If you are unlucky the pacakes are slightly incompatible. And if you need to use \usepacage[spanish]{babel} then you are out of luck.

Two recent problems I had with LaTeX:

* If you put a \dfrac inside a table, the table thinks that the fraction is smaller and the line of the borders of the table collide with the numbers.

* If you need a different header height in your first page, you need some black magic macrology to get a not so good solution.

Sure, some limitations could be mitigated this way. But being open source does not in itself make it a good language/platform.

This is a point that many people seem to skip when discussing Mathematica. I think it would be great if they open sourced all of the code but I doubt that that alone would bring a surge of new package developers. If anything, I would expect it to bring IPython, Sage, etc. people to pick around for useful bits to reimplement in other projects.

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