Frequently asked questions
- How does Cassiopeia compare to other LaTeX based document processors?
LaTeX and MathML presentation markup are description languages with focus on presentation. MathML content markup on the other hand focusses on the mathematical meaning of an equation. Once the mathematical meaning is known an equation can not only be rendered for presentation in a default fashion but also passed to a symbolic algebra system for automatic simplification or to a graph engine for plotting purposes. That's why MathML content markup was chosen for the internal representation of equations in Cassiopeia and a symbolic algebra system and a plotting engine were integrated directly into the text system. Cassiopeia can - due to its key stroke based equation editor and its LaTeX based printing engine - be used as a very efficient word processor for scientific papers. But it offers much more than that. The integration of a symbolic algebra system, a plotting engine, a simulation module and the RDBMS based document management feature make it a very effective workplace for entire groups of scientists of all faculties and engineers allowing co-editing in a central database. For more info see Comparison of scientific word processors.
- I am a non-technical writer! Is Cassiopeia the right choice for me or should I stick to a standard office suite?
We recommend to check out Cassiopeia, even if you have no need for equations and a symbolic algebra system. The document management feature (efficient retrieval of documents), the interlink feature (jump around in your document tree) and the ability to handle also huge documents with ease (see below) make Cassiopeia the first choice for many users even for non-technical purposes. The TOC-drawer and clone-view additionally boost your workflow and the LaTeX-Export filter allows you to publish your documents in book-printing quality (professionally typeset) with a single click.
- Why does Cassiopeia use a relational database management system as the primary data store for documents? Isn't this overkill? Doesn't this bind lots of machine resources? Wouldn't it be much easier to save into files like other products do?
It would be easier but also much less efficient. How many documents does a scientist produce in his life time? How often will he remember only a few keywords and not even the title of a paper written years ago by him or one of his colleagues? The underlying database allows to retrieve documents very efficiently based on creation date, owner, assigned categories and even full text search no matter how many documents are stored in the database. And that can be lot after a while especially if you share the database with colleagues. A database based approach allows to link everything with everything. One document references a section in another document and that again has references to an equation or a figure in just another document. Think of writing a paper and therein using an expression you have derived (proven) years ago in some other document. Simply type something like "As we have shown in ..." and create a link to this old section with your proof of the equation. When it comes to printing you can make Cassiopeia resolve those links and add referenced sections to the appendix automatically. Consider a document with many subsections. When you modify text anywhere in the document only the actually modified subsection needs to be saved to the database, not the entire document or book which saves a lot of time (less text to be converted) and thus allows ultra fast saving of even huge documents. Moreover, relational database management systems come with and thus automatically integrate a multi user access mechanism that ensures data integrity when working with multiple users in the same document repository. Cassiopeia uses FrontBase, a modern RDBMS with an exceptionally small footprint. The FrontBase binary is only 1.9MB in size, puts close to no load on your machine and is started automatically. The database is basically maintenance free and automatically setup when Cassiopeia is launched for the first time.
- How do I exchange documents with colleagues that have no access to my datastore?
Cassiopeia stores documents in a database by default. However, as of version 2.x it also exports documents to *.cspd files. A *.cspd file (human readable XML) is a writable version of a document in the filesystem and might be used to exchange docs with colleagues via email. The alternative of course always is to let Cassiopeia automatically generate LaTeX and use the resulting PDF for sharing your docs with interested parties.
- Do I have to manually setup and manage a relational database to make use of Cassiopeia?
No! The local database is setup automatically as part of the installation procedure and to the greatest possible extend maintenance-free. As of version 2.x Cassiopeia users can alternatively make use (this is chosen in the Database - Log On panel) of the Advanced Science Cloud. The ASC is a datastore hosted in our datacenter and allows all users of a workgroup to connect to the same datastore from wherever they are even from outside of the LAN.
- Where are my documents actually stored? How can I backup my data?
When you log on with the cloud control unchecked (see Getting Started) Cassiopeia connects to a local database running on your Mac (requires close to no resources and works great even on old MacBooks). Unless you have changed the default configuration your document data will end up in the file /Library/FrontBase/Databases/Cassiopeia.fb on your local hard drive. You can use FrontBaseManager.app to create a life backup of this database (see Database Backups). The backup data will end up in a file in the /Library/FrontBase/Backups/Cassiopeia.fb directory. You might want to copy this backup file to a USB-stick or the like from time to time.
- Do I need to learn LaTeX in order to create scientific papers with Cassiopeia?
No! Cassiopeia automatically generates and compiles LaTeX code when it comes to printing and thus produces results in book printing quality. But it does not require the user to know LaTeX or any other typesetting language. Instead easy to remember key strokes can be used to efficiently create document content. E.g. a section title is created with Command-Shift-S, selected text can be emphasized with Command-Shift-E, a greek alpha can be inserted into an equation with Ctrl-g a, a fraction part is inserted into an equation with Ctrl-f and so on. Not so frequently used parts and symbols can easily be looked up on a palette and inserted via a doubleclick.
- I have learned LaTeX already. Can I make use of this knowledge in Cassiopeia?
Yes! Cassiopeia has a LaTeX region feature that allows to insert pure LaTeX code into Cassiopeia documents.
- I plan to store sensible data. How secure is Cassiopeia?
Cassiopeia is as secure as a document management system on a computer connected to the internet can be. The communication between Cassiopeia and the database can be SSL-encrypted. Even the database file itself can be encrypted thus providing a very save solution for sensible data.
- How can I prevent other users of the cloud (or members of my workgroup) from accessing my documents?
Other users have no access to a newly created document by default. They cannot even see your documents in Document Manager unless access privileges have explicitly been granted. Use Ctrl-Shift-Doubleclick on a document to open the privileges inspector.
- Can Cassiopeia documents be published in HTML form on a web server?
Yes, Cassiopeia has a built-in HTML generation engine that allows to convert a Cassiopeia document into a website with a single click. See Example Paper in HTML for an example. See LaTeX and HTML Generation for more information.
- Why is Cassiopeia no longer free?
In the past we offered a free standard license and a commercial pro license with an extended feature set. Only few Cassiopeia users purchased a commercial license which made it hard for us to keep the advanced-science site operational and continuously improve the application. We therefore decided to restructure the licensing scheme. Cassiopeia users that want to make use of the full feature set are now supposed to purchase a license for a moderate yearly fee. The license also includes email support. We encourage users to make use of this support offer and contact us if they hit any problem.
See Equation Editor
for more answers to frequently asked questions ...