Friday, June 30, 2006

Maple moves closer to Matlab

This week's announcement of a new "Maple toolbox for Matlab" raises interesting issues, even though the product being announced is quite minor.

The product appears to amount to a new command for Matlab that sends computations to Maple. The press release claims that it is "bi-directional" though no examples are given of the reverse call being made.

Firstly, this is yet another example of the Maplesoft strategy being to position Maple as a companion product for control engineers using Matlab. See my speculation on this back in March. All the explanation for the link are written for the Matlab user, not the Maple user: features listed are mostly not the new link features, but a summary of what Maple is, only two of seven screenshots on the website show any interaction between Maple and Matlab, the others show Maple being used for control calculations .

Maplesoft's recent announcement to discontinue all of the platforms that it supports except Windows XP, Mac, Linux and Solaris makes sense in this context, as these are the exact platforms that Matlab supports.

However, it is interesting to note that this appears to compete with the existing relationship between Maplesoft and Mathworks.

Mathworks already offer two "Symbolic toolboxes" which are the same as this - Maple (or a subset of Maple) and a link to call it from Matlab. What's different? This one uses the current version of Maple, while the Matlab toolboxes use Maple 8 (three versions behind). This one includes the Maple interface. This one is sold by Maple. This one uses different syntax.

Mathworks has not made any announcement of this new toolbox and neither party has said anything about future support for the existing symbolic toolboxes.

So while the product strategy seems to move closer to Matlab, the business relationship seems to move away from Mathworks. I can only speculate to the reasons - lack of interest from Mathworks to upgrade the existing toolbox or perhaps Maplesoft is unsatisfied with the royalties that it gets from the Symbolic toolbox sales.


Robert Israel said...

"The press release claims that it is "bi-directional" though no examples are given of the reverse call being made."

For the reverse direction, i.e. calling Matlab from Maple, see the
"Matlab" package, which has been a standard part of Maple since Maple V Release 5.

Scientific Computing said...

If that is what they mean, then I think the press release is a bit misleading when it says "The Maple-MATLAB Connector is an add-on to Maple 10 that provides a two-way link between Maple and MATLAB". To me it is saying that that is a new feature provided by the $200 add-on.