new user Maple interface setup
and getting familiar with the interface (in progress)

Maple does not need to be "taught" in the usual sense of programming or math subjects but the new user needs to get familiar with how the interface works and then slowly acquire experience in knowing which of the many top row menu choices and right click context sensitive menu choices are useful at the elementary level. It helps if an experienced user shows the new user the ropes, so to speak, so this document attempts to help serve that purpose when such guidance is not available, as well as to help instructors new to Maple.

Important! It is not necessary to study this overview page. Just reading through it gives you some insight into how the Maple interface works, and you can always refer to it again later as you play with Maple to acquire more experience. This should be fun if you like mathematics, not a chore.

Although one can hide Maple commands by using Document Mode which mixes text, math input and math output, Worksheet Mode is more structured and useful for beginners, and helps familiarize the user with basic Maple commands in order to not be afraid of using template worksheets requiring only editing of Maple command parameters (expressions, ranges, etc) to achieve a more interesting calculation. The top line menu choice File, Open allows a choice between these two modes. This 3 minute video on Clickable Math shows how to use palettes and right click menus in Document Mode, but also applies to Worksheet Mode; the only difference is that in the latter Maple inserts the Maple command into a new math input region and then gives the math output.


When Maple is opened for the first time, the user should rearrange the palettes shown on the left margin of the screen. They open and close by mouse clicking on the triangle in the palette title, and they can be reordered by left clicking on the palette title and holding, then dragging the palette up or down and  releasing. Start by closing them all, and from the View Menu, Palettes, Show Palette, choose "Calculus" which is not shown by default. Then move the following 4 palettes to the top in this order:

Expressions, Common Symbols, Calculus, Matrix
[See graphic screen shot of a blank worksheet with the closed palettes arranged in order.]

Then open Expressions, Common Symbols, Calculus so they are ready for use. Matrix is useful for linear algebra and systems of linear differential equations in MAT2705 and MAT3400 but can be opened when needed.

Expressions is the most useful for building up Mathematical expressions and equations. The top row of Common Symbols is useful for Pi, "e" and infinity, while at the bottom one finds the dot and cross products for vectors in multivariable calculus. Calculus extends the Expressions palette for multivariable calculus, as well as housing the limit icon on the first line.

Occasionally the Greek palette is useful for Greek letters. [You can show it as described above for Calculus.]

USE: A little experimentation shows how to combine palette icons together to create the mathematical expressions and equations needed for the extended calculus sequence. By using "Worksheet mode" instead of "Document mode" worksheets, one has a structured document of math inputs (with a math prompt ">" for inserting 2d math from palettes or typing) and math outputs. With the cursor anywhere in a math input region, the Enter key in Windows (equivalent for a MAC) executes the mathematical input to give an indented math output in blue, and placing the cursor on it allows one to choose from a context sensitive menu that gives options appropriate for the kind of math expression or equation or set of such objects separated by commas. The result leads to a new input line with the appropriate Maple command inserted, so that one can begin familiarizing oneself with the elementary Maple commands needed for calculus, and often easily edit that input line to adjust parameters. The placeholders in the palettes can be filled in with other palette icons or by typing simple expressions, using the tab key to move between multiple placeholders to overwrite them with your inputs.

One can drag the vertical border of the palette column left or right with the mouse to give more room to either the main Maple window or the palette column.

Menus (the minimal for elementary use)

There are multiple ways to accomplish various tasks, via the top window row of menus or by right click context sensitive menus, so that for most of the single operation activities (which of course can be fed into each other for multistep calculations), a little familiarity with a few indispensible Menu commands is sufficient.

The Maple Window

For a worksheet mode Maple worksheet file, a blank worksheet starts with an input line signaled by a prompt symbol ">" and a left square bracket (see screenshot) with encloses an "execution group" of Maple inputs which are simultaneously executed when the cursor is in the region and the enter key is pressed. Any such math input region can be converted to a text input region for documentation by using the Insert, Text menu selection, while the T icon in the tool bar inserts a new text region below the cursor. If more than one math input region is desired in a single execution group, one need only separate them by a semicolon or (to suppress the output that is long or not necessary to see) a colon. One can also separate math inputs on new lines by using "Shift, Enter".

When the output is a plot region (see screenshot), left clicking on the plot makes it "live" and one sees a border which can be dragged to reshape the window, smaller or larger. Right-clicking on the live plot window gives a menu of too many choices: only a few need attention.

2d plots

3d plots

Context sensitive tool bar

There are three types of regions in a worksheet mode worksheet: math input, math output and text (paragraph mode lacks the left square bracket delimiter). When the cursor is in one of these regions, the tool bar adapts to the appropriate options for that content. Hovering the cursor over the icons shows a brief indication of their meaning in balloon help.

In text mode, Maple has a complete and sophisticated word processing toolbar. One can introduce math input inside of text regions by the Math icon at the left of the toolbar, switching back to text with the Text icon.

In a 2d or 3d plot region, the toolbar switches to icons appropriate for these environments.

Using Maple

As you begin to use Maple, if there is any aspect of Maple you don't understand and the Help page is either not so helpful or there is no Help page (for much of the clickable interface, for example), you can consult the current Maple PDF user manual.

Every new user needs to be informed of some tips about basic aspects of the interface here. You don't have to read them all, but the top of the page is very useful.