New Look Website

We are very happy to announce the release of our new-look website. Fresh, modern and much friendlier on mobile devices.

The new website also links to our new Knowledge Base which is where we are now consolidating all of the various information sources that you can use with your subscription.

Take a look at the new site today!

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OneNote and FX Draw, A Perfect Match

We have recently been working with OneNote and FX Draw on a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and what we have found is a combination of tools that has the potential to revolutionise the way you teach.

For years, teachers have used technology to centralise their teaching materials. When I first started teaching, most experienced mathematics teachers had multiple lever arch files above their desk that contained all of the materials they needed to teach their courses. Now most teachers collect electronic materials into folders on their computers. OneNote represents the next level of organisation as it allows you to organise disparate collections of materials into one “notebook”.

This screenshot shows one page of a OneNote notebook I am currently using to teach a pre-calculus level course. You can see the tabs across the top (1) for the topics and the pages (2) in the current topic. Also note where I have used the Surface’s pen to annotate the notes that I prepared earlier.

You can also use OneNote in full screen mode which makes it ideal for data projectors.

A major advantage of OneNote is that you can share your notebook with students in numerous ways. They can go home, visit a web page and see exactly the same thing that they were looking at in class.

The new FX Draw Cloud version allows you to dynamically create and insert editable diagrams into OneNote. It provides a dynamic mathematical drawing environment that will make you more productive and, with OneNote, far more organised.

While the ability to use a pen makes the Microsoft Surface (and similar tablet based computers) an ideal teaching tool, you can also use OneNote with FX Draw on any Mac or Windows computer. Obviously, you can also use FX Draw Cloud to produce graphics that can be used in ANY publication medium including Word, PowerPoint, Pages, Google Docs and Moodle (to name a few).

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More FX Equation Information

It appears that we have had two FX Equation issues operating coincidentally, which makes life much harder for everyone. We have now isolated the two issues and can explain them in full.

The Dodgy Microsoft Update

As noted in the previous blog entry, Microsoft have released an update to Word 2016 that causes FX Equation equations, MathType equations and Microsoft’s own equation editor equations to not align with the text and can possibly have the top of the graphic chopped off. The affected version is 16.0.4498.1000. This issue is totally outside of our control and is currently being worked on by Microsoft.

We have had some reports that removing the update fixes the problem. The update causing the issue is the KB3178674 Security Update. There are three potential problems with this:

a) The update was created to address an undisclosed security issue in the software and removing the update could potentially put your computer at risk.
b) You will need to turn off automatic updates for Office otherwise the update will be automatically reapplied. You will also need to turn automatic updating back on in the future.
c) Uninstalling updates is not simple and will almost certainly require the attention of your IT services.

As this issue is totally outside of our control, we are not making any recommendations as to what should be done.

The Timing Issue

On some computers, when inserting an FX Equation object into Word, FX Equation is not returning the graphic to Word. Instead it is returning a large square. This can either happen intermittently or just about all the time.

This issue seems to be caused by a timing issue between FX Equation and Word. Word is asking for a graphic but not waiting for the graphic to be provided. We have not been able to recreate the issue here but have inserted a very short delay into the process (250ms to be precise) which seems to have fixed the issue for all users who have tested the fix. The new version is available online now.

As far as we can tell the two issues are unrelated but their coincidence has been very frustrating for everybody involved. Hopefully this is the end of the problems.

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Problem With Word 2016 and Equations

We have recently been receiving reports about FX Equations equations not lining up in Word 2016. Initially we thought that we were causing the issue but Microsoft has just announced that the issue lies with a particular version of Word 2016 (16.0.4498.1000).

The full discussion can be read here:

This discussion is referring specifically to MathType and Equation Editor but our products utilise the same features and are being similarly affected.

At this point in time there does not seem to be a resolution available to the issue but it seems that Microsoft is definitely aware of the problem and working on a solution.

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Efofex Graphics vrs Efofex Equations

Efofex produces two types of products – graphics products (FX Draw, FX Graph, FX Stat and FX ChemStruct) and equation products (FX Equation and FX Chem). You use graphics and equations in quite different ways, so using our graphics products and equation products is quite different as well.

The biggest difference between and equation and a graphic is that an equation is really “fancy” text that needs to be treated as text. The most important difference is that equations need to be lined up with existing text.

Using Efofex graphics is very similar regardless of where you are trying to place them. Using Efofex equations varies greatly depending on where they end up. This is because what we can do with your equations greatly depends on the capabilities of the target.

Using FX Equation and FX Chem

When FX Equation was first written, the only target we supported was Word for Windows and FX Equation works very efficiently in this context. The introduction of Efofex Cloud versions of FX Equation and FX Chem do not change this. If you are using FX Equation in this context, just keep on doing what you have always done.

Using FX Equation and FX Chem in other contexts requires a change of mind-set because the products now have two quite different “modes”.

Inserting FX Equation equations into a Word for Windows document. FX Equation is responsible for everything, including editing old equations. You insert an FX Equation using a toolbar button that is added to Word. You double-click an existing equation to edit it in FX Equation.

Equation Generator
This uses FX Equation’s highly efficient equation engine to generate an equation that can be pasted into another product as a native equation. For example, this means that you can paste an equation into OneNote on a Mac in such a way that OneNote thinks that you have used its own, inefficient equation editor. This is a one-way process. FX Equation generates the equation but you then use the native OneNote equation editor to make any required small edits.

You use FX Equation as an equation generator, you need to start FX Equation as a standalone program and tell FX Equation which output to “Target”.

There are lots of different outputs available and we will be adding more. We are currently working on the ability to output equations in a format that can be used in Google Docs (which is not that good at equations).

Equations and Efofex Cloud
Efofex cloud adds lots of functionality to our graphics programs and most demonstrations we have produced focuses on the new possibilities. Efofex cloud does not greatly increase the power of our equation programs but this does not mean that they are not extremely versatile! If you have only used FX Equation in its traditional usage mode, you are missing out on all of its power and speed.

This brings us to the final part of this article. FX Equation and FX Chem are all about speed and using them as equation generators lets you leverage that speed in many more contexts. If you have only ever thought about FX Equation as a little tool for Word for Windows, you are really missing out on a lot of its power!

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The New Registration System

Our new cloud products also have a new registration system. For the vast bulk of users, the new system is working perfectly but a small number have hit some issues. This article is to discuss those problems. If you have had no issues, you can move on!

We did not want to bombard all of our customers with a new code (that would almost certainly be ignored), so we designed the new system to automatically download new details (including your passcode) if your computer was already registered using an old unlock code. This has generally worked very well. If it has failed for you, it is due to a couple of possibilities.

1. The system has not had time to work before you have checked the registration. This seems to be a little bit of a problem on some school networks which can be a little bit slow. The system DOES work eventually but, by then, users have decided that they are unregistered. We recommend that you start one of the products and let it sit for a minute or so. Then close and restart the same product. If the Help/Manage Account is still reporting that you are unregistered, move to step two.

2. Some school networks are blocking all Internet traffic for our products. This will prevent the registration system from working. We recommend that you open one of the products and keep an eye on the status bar at the bottom of the window. Periodically it should report that it is syncing to the cloud. If the product is having connectivity problems it will report that it has no connection on the status bar. If you have no connection, you need to negotiate with your tech team to allow our products to talk to the Internet AND also send us an email. We can send you a manual registration email that will allow you to use the products until the connectivity issue is sorted out.

3. Finally, some users are installing the new versions onto a new computer that has never been registered. If this is the case, send us an email and we will get your passcode to you as soon as possible.

As users renew their subscriptions, everyone will eventually receive their passcode as a matter of course. If, like most users, your computer has automatically registered itself you can see your passcode right now. Just go to Manage Account in the Help menu. Your passcode is worth recording because it will never change. You can use the same code indefinitely to license any computers you need.

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Managing Your Account

Once you have installed and run one of our products, choose Manage Account from the Help menu. You should see something like this.

The new registration system should have downloaded your details and will show you your Pass Code. Note this down so that you can install on to other computers.

If your details are not shown, try pressing Refresh. If they still are not showing, you will need to contact us to get your pass code. This might occur if:

  • You are installing on a new computer.
  • Your registered name does not quite match the one in our registry (uncommon).
  • There are multiple entries for your registered name in our registry (slightly more common, particularly if you work for a school like St Joseph’s College or Sacred Heart!)
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