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Astro Utilities and Mathcad FAQ

Last Updated June 22, 2002 .     New items marked by "".

Because the Astro Utilities are Mathcad worksheet files, it makes sense to combine the Astro Utilities and Mathcad FAQs into one. Users can reference this single FAQ without first determining if they have a Mathcad problem or Utilities problem. Note the following:

  • For persistent problems see the Mathcad Support page, on the MathSoft website, to download and install any required updates. 
  • Unless otherwise specified, "Mathcad" used here refers to Mathcad 8 Standard Edition as run on the Pentium-133 MHz, 32MB, Windows 95a machine used to create the Astro Utilities. Most of the FAQ is composed of notes written while creating the Astro Utilities. Because the Astro Utilities is a complex work of interlinked files, components, text, graphic, and math regions, the problems listed here may not appear on your worksheets. Bear in mind that the problems happened while constructing the Utilities and do not appear when running the product. 
  • Commands in parenthesis are Mathcad 8 Standard menu options. 
  • If you don't see your question here, use the search feature of your browser to find keywords on this page. 
  • Better ideas, additional thoughts, and issues not covered here are always welcome. Submit them to the Message Boards.

FAQ Contents

MOSTLY ASTRO UTILITIES PART OF THE FAQ

  1. How were the HTML static preview pages for the Astro Utilities created?
  2. Why can’t the Astro Utilities pages be bookmarked so that clicking on a function in the Function Index brings you to that function, instead of the top of the Details page?
  3. How do I make the index-search take me to the page region that contains my search phrase?
  4. Has there been any update in the Terms of Use and Registration policy/procedure for the Astro Utilities?
  5. How do I save the contents of a user constants input-page so the default constant is not written out to file every time I open it?
  6. What changes were made with each upgrade of the Astro Utilities?

MOSTLY MATHCAD PART OF THE FAQ

  1. How do I get the latest version of the free Mathcad Explorer from MathSoft?
  2. What additional resources are available for learning Mathcad?
  3. What are some problems encountered with Mathcad Regions as the Astro Utilities were developed?
  4. What problems have been encountered with tabs inside of Mathcad text regions?
  5. What can you tell me about the garbled Mathcad region problem?
  6. What can I do when Mathcad Automatic Calculation doesn’t work?
  7. What problems can happen when attempting to open a Mathcad file?
  8. What are some suggestions on creating an HBK (Electronic Book) file?
  9. What are some tips on creating a search index file for an Electronic Book?
  10. What about problems in moving sets of Mathcad files linked by references?
  11. Can more than one version of Mathcad be installed on a machine?
  12. Is it possible that Mathcad functionality mentioned in the manual does not exist in the program?

MOSTLY ASTRO UTILITIES PART OF THE FAQ

How were the HTML static preview pages for the Astro Utilities created?

“Save As” under the Mathcad File menu can save worksheets in HTML format.  This save takes each region and converts it into a JPEG graphic.  Worksheets saved like this look exactly like their live Mathcad counterparts but can be quite large for downloading purposes.  The conversion method employed in the Astro Utilities was to use the RTF option, under “Save As,” to create a file.  In this format all graphics and equations are saved as graphics and text stayed text.  This file was imported into an HTML editor for formatting and saving.  Though there was a big savings in file size, as compared to the HTML save, the RTF conversion required much manual labor to duplicate the look of the original Mathcad files.

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Why can’t the Astro Utilities pages be bookmarked so that clicking on a function in the Function Index brings you to that function, instead of the top of its Function Details page?

There is no page-to-page bookmark support in Mathcad 8 SE.  But, the Search Book option (binoculars on book toolbar) can take you to a specific region in a worksheet.

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How do I make the index search take me to the page region that contains my search phrase?

The directions that follow refer to Mathcad 8 and any other version that uses a similar search system.  

  • Clicking the binocular icon on the Electronic Book toolbar accesses the search index dialog. A “Search for” combo-box displays all available search phrases.  
  • Click a phrase and hit the [SEARCH] button.  All instances of the phrase are displayed in the “Found” control below the combo-box. 
  • Select an instance of the phrase there and click the [GO TO] button. The page containing the phrase is displayed in the book browser. 
  • Click the [NEXT] button to go to the page region that contains the phrase. If the [NEXT] button stays enabled you can press it again and see the next occurrence of that phrase on the same page. In that case the [PREVIOUS] button becomes enabled for use. 

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Has there been any update in the Terms of Use and Registration policy/procedure for the Astro Utilities?

The directions found in the latest downloaded product are valid.  The only change from the first distribution is the use of the PayPal system, which allows the use of Credit Cards and other transfers to pay for registration. Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

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How do I save the contents of a user constants input page so the default constant is not written out to file every time I open it?

These pages are normally accessed off of the Input User Constants page by clicking the button or as the last few pages in the "next/previous" browse sequence.  Starting with version 2000.3 of the Astro Utilities, these pages can be saved through the "Annotate Book" options in the  Book menu.  Make sure "Annotate Book" is checked and then choose "Save Section" after entering in the constants.  Users of prior versions can save by choosing the "Save As" option under File menu or the disk icon in the toolbar.  This procedure is outlined in Saving User Constant Entry Pages ... .  It is recommended to upgrade to the latest version and use the "Annotate" option. 

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What changes were made with each upgrade of the Astro Utilities?

The Astro Utilities Modification History document lists file and functionality changes made in each version.

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MOSTLY MATHCAD PART OF THE FAQ

How do I get the latest version of the free Mathcad Explorer from MathSoft?

This free version of Mathcad is actually the full version, neutered so that it can’t save any worksheets.  It will run the Astro Utilities fine and allow you some file IO (user constants in the Utilities), through use of read/write components.

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What additional resources are available for learning Mathcad?

Click buttons on this row for Mathcad software and learning material. Mathcad 2K Practical MathCAD Intro 2 MathCAD

More Books at:MCad Bks

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What are some problems encountered with Mathcad Regions as the Astro Utilities were developed?

A region in Mathcad is an invisible rectangle that contains text, math, or text with embedded math regions.  They are automatically created as you work and can be made visible by use of the View/Regions menu option.

  • Most of the Astro Utilities regions have the “Push Regions Down As You Type” property set to "on" (select region, Format/Properties then Text Tab). But, you must still be vigilante with region spacing.  Two regions separated by the space of about one line may still overlap if you add some carriage returns to the top region.  If an overlap does happen, deleting some lines from the top region to shrink it has the odd effect of “drawn up” the bottom, overlapped, region with it.  I recommend selecting and dragging the bottom region down a few lines.  Note that this is a particularly vexing problem if information is pasted into the top text region.  It may overlap the bottom if the spacing between the two is less than the number of lines pasted in.
  • A text region may contain multiple embedded math regions (select edit point, Insert/Math Region).  One of the embedded math regions may need to use a variable defined in an earlier (above and left) embedded math region.  Occasionally the second math region cannot “see” the variable in the first, resulting in an error message on screen.  Saving worksheet and forcing recalculation does not always work to resolve this.  My standard workaround is to close and reopen the worksheet.  This seems to put everything right.
  • Once regions are under control, manual page breaks can be inserted to split the sheet into logical parts (<Ctrl><Enter>).  But don’t do any final formatting with calculation turned off!  Scrolling down a worksheet with calculation turned on can cause matrices embedded in text to recalculate and expand the text region. This causes the blank space between text regions to expand and disrupt prior attempts at pagination.  I’ve also had the experience of doing a Print Preview and having regions develop large gaps between them as a result – do a save beforehand and close/reopen the sheet to continue work.
  • Weird problems have been encounter with multiple hyperlinks inside of text regions.  In several instances a blank line separated two hyperlinks in a region.  When one link was modified to point to a new URL the other would change to the new link also!  The solution was to split apart the region so that each had one hyperlink only.  Another problem was encountered when updating a hyperlink at the top of a sheet that caused some regions further down to overlap or increase distance between them.  Scrolling down the whole sheet and allowing recalculations to happen (causing matrices to expand) before making modifications solved this.

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What problems have been encountered with tabs inside of Mathcad text regions?

At times problems develop when using tab characters to space text in the Utilities.  When placing the insertion point to edit tabbed text, there was a mismatch between the displayed position and the edit point.  New typing appear a few spaces behind the edit point.  Attempting to delete characters deleted text a few spaces back.  This does not always happen and I have as yet to determine what other factors may contribute to this phenomena.

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What can you tell me about the garbled Mathcad region problem?

This has happened to you when you open a worksheet and see garbled characters trailing from one of your regions into the margins.  It may appear that several regions are overlapped with extended ASCII charters sprinkled in.  Lucky you there is a simple solution, offered to me by Mathcad tech support: View/Zoom and decrease magnification as much as possible then View/Zoom to normal magnification.  The regions should look normal now.

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What can I do when Mathcad Automatic Calculation doesn't work?

The symptoms here are that Automatic Calculation is checked under the Math menu but math regions fails to show results and there is no hour-glass to indicate that results are being calculated. The workaround here is to close and reopen the worksheet. This should re-establish the Auto Calc functionality.

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What problems can happen when attempting to open a Mathcad file?

Occasionally, with Mathcad closed, double-clicking on a Mathcad file (“HBK”, “MCD” and “MCU” extensoins) in Windows Explorer causes the splash screen to display briefly but the application does not show on the screen or the taskbar.  There is a similar problem with Mathcad open when the files are clicked and nothing happens.  In this instance closing Mathcad first seems to work (even though the system has to go through the time and trouble of closing and re-loading Mathcad!).  I chalk both of these up to operating system problems – anyone else have an idea?

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What are some suggestions on creating an HBK (Electronic Book) file?

This ASCII file contains the names of the worksheets that make up a Mathcad Electronic Book. The filenames are listed in the order a user would see them when hitting the "next/previous" arrows on the toolbar. (Complete details on HBK files can be found in your Mathcad documentation or on the MathSoft website.) Do not use "8 character DOS compatibility filenames" in the HBK. For instance recent versions of Windows will allow you to create files named: "My Book Table of Contents.mcd" and "My Book Introduction.mcd." When viewed in a DOS directory listing the "compatibility" names may be: "MYBOOK~1.MCD" and "MYBOOK~2.MCD." If you move these files to a new directory the "compatibility" names may change because files sort themselves alphabetically to determine the "~1, ~2, etc." sequence in the new location. I've also found that the "next/previous" arrows will gray out if you use the "compatibility" names and view a file out of the HBK sequence. For instance you may use the "next" arrow and reach a "Table of Contents" page to jump further into the book and find "next/previous" disabled. Normally the Book viewer can "find its place" in the sequence after such a jump.

See the next section for help in assembling a search index.

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What are some tips on creating a search index file for an Electronic Book?

The last step, after building an HBK file (see above), is to create a search index for the Electronic Book. This requires compilation of an index file (TXT) of phrases, regions, and filenames, as detailed in the MathSoft documentation on their website. The region numbers for the search index are exposed by clicking a region and pressing <ctrl><shift><L> all-at-once on the keyboard. You must do this in Mathcad - not the book browser. The number appears on the prompt bar. Region numbering after a reference statement (to another file) is incremented by the number of regions in the referenced file. In Mathcad 8 (and probably other versions) the search index routine in the book browser does not count the included reference regions when locating a region on a page. 

Therefore the author-compiled index file must contain the region counts as if the reference statements do not exist. The simplest way is to delete the reference statements on a file before doing region counts. Of course you must NOT SAVE THE FILE in this form. 

If you've already created the index file and discover that it has the region/reference count problem, you can save time by noting a region's count before and after deleting the reference. The difference is the amount to subtract from your existing counts. Note that the reference statement represents all the regions on the included page and its presence does not increment the region count beyond that. Strangely, if you check the region number of the reference, it will be the highest on the page. Multiple references on a page will have the same region number.

For an easy way of compiling your index and handbook files into a search index, read about the M-dex freeware program for authors using Mathcad 8  (won't work with Mathcad 200x E-Books).

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What about problems in moving sets of Mathcad files linked by references?

References are a way that one Mathcad file can include another without showing it.  You can double click the visible reference link on a page to open the included file.  At one point, I moved the Astro Utilities source files a “lower” directory and found that some of the reference links created a duplicate directory in the reference path: “xxxx\source/source\myfiles\xxxx”.  In this example “/source” should not have been there.  One tip-off is the forward slash “/” that is out-of-place with the rest of the path.  I ended up manually fixing all my links! 

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Can more than one version of Mathcad be installed on a machine?

In a test, Mathcad 8 Standard and the free Mathcad Explorer were installed on one machine and found to conflict in the use of registry keys.  I suggest uninstalling all Mathcad programs and reinstalling the one that is best for you.  Mathcad Support sent me this reply when I queried them about this problem: "Mathcad 8 has a built in patch file that will restore the registry settings. In your Mathcad directory locate the file regall.bat. Double click to run this file. Now you can run the Explorer and Mathcad. If you uninstall Mathcad Explorer you will need to repeat this process."

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Is it possible that Mathcad functionality mentioned in the manual does not exist in the program?

Errors in the manual are addressed at the Mathcad Support page on Mathsoft.com.  Missing manuals can also be downloaded from there.  Check out their FAQ and send tech support your questions.

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