[IPython-dev] Re: questions about the notebook interface

Hans Meine hans_meine at gmx.net
Mon Jul 4 06:36:44 CDT 2005

On Friday 01 July 2005 08:41, Fernando Perez wrote:
> > Toni Alatalo wrote:
> > I don't think that any-old-text-editor is a viable target. It just
> > doesn't provide any of the real notebook capabilities. Targetting it as
> > an intermediate platform before a GUI shell is available sacrifices the
> > capabilities that the GUI shell is going to provide.
> Well, that approach has worked pretty well for Latex.  You can edit it with
> xemacs/vi/notepad/whatever, and yet the LyX guys managed to build a fancy
> GUI environment on top of it.  Furthermore, lyx actually handles the
> document in its own .lyx format, and exports to latex for the final
> rendering pass.  But if you want, you can embed raw latex into the document
> via ERT insets.

Again, I want to stress the importance of the interactive programming aspect 
of the interface.  The LaTeX-way has the disadvantage that LyX basically 
contains a "LaTeX light" rendering engine, since calling LaTeX is not 
feasible for interactive feedback.

For programming, writing the program in an editor and running it from a shell 
(or even via a keyboard shortcut from within your IDE) is already possible 
today, but that's where ipython jumps in as an improvement.  I would be 
interested in a notebook frontend building on that, basically expanding the 
(already quite powerful) editing possibilities.

> I don't see why a similar model can't work for us: a simple enough format
> that it's valid python syntax, so it can be edited with normal programming
> tools. A notebook library to render the files, and a GUI on top which
> enables interactive use of such documents, using the ipython engine.

I understand that you're more interested in the rendering part, but I am much 
more interested in the interactive GUI.  Without a powerful, comfortable GUI, 
I won't be interested in created the documents I would be able to print out.  
(Admittedly, even then I would seldomly use the printing..)

> For a prototype, a curses-based one could be written fairly easily. It
> wouldn't be portable in the long term, but it might be enough for a lot of
> users on *nix systems.

That would be a good start AFAICS.  Anybody interested in working on sth. like 

Ciao, /  /
    /  / ANS

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