March 22, 2005–Wolfram Notebook Indexer is now available as a free public beta. This new plug-in for Google Desktop Search lets users perform text searches of all Wolfram Notebook (.nb) documents on their local hard drives, including those that are a part of Mathematica‘s online help system. “We are always looking to provide our users with new tools to help them more easily manage their work,” says John Fultz, manager of interface technologies at Wolfram Research.
The Mathematica Notebook file format is Wolfram’s universal document technology. Its open, structured syntax and active content have made it the standard for technical documents. Because Notebooks are the basis for all Wolfram products, the Notebook Indexer can also search files created in Wolfram CalculationCenter, Publicon, and more than 50 other Mathematica application packages.
Notebook search results can be opened directly in Mathematica or viewed in a web-based preview format created by the Desktop Search indexing system. However, Wolfram Notebook Indexer does not use or need Mathematica; it instead leverages the syntax of Notebook files to convert them to text easily indexed by the Desktop Search engine.
The Notebook format has remained stable since 1996, and has been widely adopted by technical professionals for its ability to display intelligent mathematical content. Earlier this month, Wolfram Research announced a new strategic partnership with BioMed Central to streamline Open Access publishing, using Wolfram Publicon as an integrated software solution for composing sophisticated technical documents.
Wolfram Notebook Indexer was developed as part of an ongoing effort to provide value-added tools for the millions of Mathematica users. The company plans to open-source the final version of the application, making the notebook parsing code available to external developers who want to write their own searching and conversion tools for Notebook documents. Although Google Desktop Search is currently available only for Windows XP and 2000, Wolfram Research is committed to providing similar tools for other platforms as the technology emerges.
“A big focus for us is making Mathematica work seamlessly with all aspects of people’s computing environments,” says Fultz. “We’re doing some very exciting things that integrate Mathematica with a surprising number of software and hardware tools across all computing platforms. Wolfram Notebook Indexer is an early peek at some of the things that will be arriving in coming months.”