Motivation

Despite its high degree of integration,  Mathematica is not a completely self-contained system unto itself.  Users often need to transfer information to and from Mathematica.  Some examples of this include:

Numerical and textual data

Images

Sound

Possible sources of data that could be brought into Mathematica include:

Data acquisition software for experimental apparatus

An external computer simulation program

Third party image manipulation software

Databases

Possible destinations of data from Mathematica:

Any of the above items

Third party document preparation system

Markup language

Support for data interchange in past versions of Mathematica was limited.  In many cases, you had no other choice but to do some additional programming.

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