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Editor's Notes, May, 2002
Welcome, dear reader, to Volume 2 of JOMA, our first in "continuous publication" mode. Throughout 2002, new materials will be posted as they are ready and will be flagged as for a month or so. To make this work for you, the reader, we have implemented a voluntary registration that will enable us to notify you whenever something of interest (according to your profile) is posted. Whether you choose to be notified or not, you can drop in any time and see what's new.
While we are phasing in continuous publication, the new materials will appear gradually. As I write this, the new items, other than these Notes, are the article "Introducing Mathwright Microworlds" by Jim White and three contributions to the Developers' Area. The three issues of Volume 1 are already archived, but we will leave links to Issue 3 articles (December 2001) in the Table of Contents until we have enough new articles to make a reasonable "issue." When we get to that point, we will start archiving Volume 2, beginning with these Notes -- and additional Notes will take their place to help keep you oriented. Everything that appears through December will belong to Volume 2, but some of the newest items will continue in the Table of Contents for a while into 2003 as Volume 3 begins to accumulate. Through our tags and month-of-publication dates, we hope to make it useful and enjoyable for you to come back often.
A word about our first Volume 2 article -- Mark Chung and Chris DiGiano have written about the importance of and techniques for reuse of Java code for common tasks rather than starting everything over from scratch with every new applet. To illustrate their points, they have included an analysis of the reusability of each of the seven Java mathlets that appeared in the first issue of JOMA. Even if you are not a Java programmer -- and may never become one -- we think you will find this article interesting. It's the second in a projected series of articles from the ESCOT Project at SRI International -- the first was "Towards a Coherent On-line Collection of Tools for Math Learning" in Issue 2.
Our other new Developers' Area articles are by members of editorial board -- although they are subjected to the review process just like everyone else. Tom Leathrum continues his series on Writing Mathlets, which started in Issue 2. And Andy Bennett writes about developing interactive web pages in the PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (or PHP, a self-referential acronym).
The new entry in our feature articles list, "Introducing Mathwright Microworlds," also involves a development system with which not everyone will be familiar. However, the article is primarily about the pedagogy of interactivity, and also about developing in a system that, unlike Java, is designed from the ground up to support mathematics. The price to be paid for this is that web-based Microworlds require an ActiveX plug-in and are therefore platform-dependent. In particular, this means that the article can only be appreciated by users of Internet Explorer (version 5 or higher) on Windows-based computers. If you're not in that category, I recommend that you lean on a friend who is so that you can take a look at the Microworlds. The text of the article is viewable in all browsers.
This brings up a policy issue that we have been wrestling with from the start of JOMA. We decided at the outset that Mathlets published in JOMA would have to be, to the extent possible, platform-independent. At a minimum, this means that Mathlets should work in both Internet Explorer and Netscape and on Windows, Mac OS, and Unix/Linux platforms. (Specific version numbers are a moving target, subject to the judgment of the editors.) Our Developers' Area editors are also committed to the principle of platform-independence, and therefore, both Mathlets and the Developers' Area are officially platform-independent zones. On the other hand, we recognize that good instructional materials and good ideas are sometimes developed in and for specific platforms, so we will sometimes publish (and have already done so) platform-dependent Articles, Modules, and Reviews. When such material is published, we will include specific statements of requirements for proper viewing.
There are a lot of new materials -- articles, modules, mathlets -- at various stages in our pipeline. Some have been approved by referees and need only final preparation for publication. Others are under review, and some very recent submissions are about to be assigned to referees. Thus, we expect to have a steady flow of new and interesting content for JOMA. If you're working on or considering work in any of our areas of interest, we welcome your submission. Whether you are interested in writing for JOMA or not, we always welcome you contributions to our Discussions area. Good reading and interacting!