I set out to do a visualization that is basic to the multivariable calculus classroom: plot a surface, a tangent plane, and a normal line. I didn’t do it on the first try…or the second.
I had to learn some things about the draw3d functionality in Maxima and wxMaxima. Here’s a great resource by Wilhelm Haager. In the end I’m delighted at the amazing flexibility of that command, but still scratching my head a little about how this would appear to an otherwise uninitiated beginner to Maxima.
Here’s the html export of my session. You can get the .wxmx file for the wxMaxima session through a link at the bottom of that page.