HiQ: Notebook structure eases useHiQ: Notebook structure eases use
May 3, 1999
The HiQ screen has three major areas: Notebook Explorer, Notebook Page, and the Command Window. All items you create and want to be part of Notebook are listed in Notebook Explorer (NE), whose structure is reminiscent of Windows Explorer. Items or objects in HiQ can be of scalar, vector, graphic, or script format, or even ActiveX controls. Since too many objects can clutter the page, HiQ feature page-setup sections for views and report generation. The sections are also used to separate various parts of the notebook like the subsheets in a spreadsheet.
Objects can be created with any of the tools in the Tool Bar. These tools are scalar, vector, matrix (real and complex), and graphic primitives that are dragged into the Notebook page and automatically added to the Explorer. In the case of a new matrix, it appears as a spreadsheet-like window that can be filled on the screen. You can access the object's properties with the mouse and you can adjust the object's appearance and numeric format.
Another way of creating scalars, vectors, and matrices is by using HiQ's powerful scripting language, whose syntax and structure is similar to Visual Basic. Any object in NE can be manipulated with the script. Matlab users will find the matrix structure declarations and usage a natural extension of their favorite program. More on the Matlab interface is described later in this review. A graph that appears in the Notebook page can be converted to scripting commands, which can become part of the script. So, a graph that is created by dragging the 2D-plot icon from the tool bar can be converted to an equivalent script with all the attributes you added into the graph.
The advantages of the script language are not obvious until you get more familiar with HiQ's capabilities. For starters, any script can be executed individually to accomplish a specific task. However, if your notebook contains several of these scripts that control different actions, you have to run them one at a time or combine them into one. Combining scripts is very useful when you use the notebook as a problem solver where the variables change all the time and the associated graphs need to be updated. Simply change the attribute of the main script to a run/stop control button, and the notebook becomes a problem solver of your model.
The third aspect in the HiQ screen is the Command Window, in which the commands in HiQ can be executed one at a time. Although HiQ compiles all the scripts in the notebook, I used the Command Window as my on-the-fly compiler to test various parts of my problem solvers. Using the clipboard, I copied the lines of the script in question and debugged them.
The toolbox includes functions for models using integrals, linear algebra, derivatives, differential equations, nonlinear systems, optimization, or special functions. The included examples give a good flavor in applications and script programming techniques.
You can access anything not found in HiQ through Matlab, provided that it is installed and licensed for your PC. Claiming 100% compatibility with Matlab, HiQ can access and run any command from Matlab's version 5.0 or later. You will find that the syntax is very similar, but there will be times when the same operation--especially with vector declaration--will mean different things to Matlab and HiQ. Using the Import Wizard in HiQ, you can convert all Matlab commands and entities.
If nothing else, HiQ's functions and features will make you look at the numerical analysis and presentation part of your work with a different attitude: Combine the latest technology in object-oriented programming with excellent graphics and interface to other legacy software.
This review was written based on HiQ 4.0. Additional enhancements are currently available in HiQ 4.1.
HiQ object-oriented software is built with a notebook structure that can include matrices, graphics, and textual information. Its core strengths span Matlab compatibility, enhanced 2D and 3D graphics, and ActiveX control capabilities. Minimum (preferred) requirements: 486 PC (Pentium 90) with 8 (16+) Mbytes of RAM and 40 Mbytes of hard disk space; Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0.
List Price: $495
National Instruments, 11500 North Mopac Expwy., Bldg. B, Austin, TX 78759; Tel: (800) 433-3488; www.natinst.com. Product Code 4717
A similar product: MathCAD - MathSoft Inc., 101 Main St., Cambridge, MA 02142; Tel: (617) 577-1017; Fax: (617) 577-8829.Product Code 4718
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