[Numpy-discussion] Re: Purchasing Documentation

Tim Churches tchur at optusnet.com.au
Tue Oct 4 14:56:32 CDT 2005

John Hunter wrote:
>>>>>>"Tim" == Tim Churches <tchur at optusnet.com.au> writes:
>     Tim> Yes, I agree entirely. Travis, you are at perfect liberty to
>     Tim> create commercial documentation for SciPy Core, but please
>     Tim> don't object if others try to organise to create free open
>     Tim> source documentation as well.
> Object?  I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that Travis would be delighted
> to see this, just as he would have been at any time over the last
> several years.  And be careful: Perry still owes me a doughnut.

Travis did indeed object, which surprised me. Verbatim:

Tim C:
>> I think there needs to be some community debate about this. Is there
>> sufficient interest for people other than Travis to start with the
>> Numeric documentation and update it as necessary to become a free
>> SciPy Core documentation? The NumPy documentation is available in
>> HTML format as the basis of this - perhaps the original source
>> (LaTeX?) for the Numeric docs is also available?

> I don't know why you would want to undermine my efforts in this way
> by duplicating effort.   Perhaps, instead you could have people donate
> $$ instead of time to releasing the documentation.    I give away
> copies of the documentation to people who participate in the
> development process all the time (and that comes off the total price
> --- though I haven't advertised this as of yet).   So, why don't you
> encourage people who don't have the money to contribute to the project
> instead.

So, Travis seems to be proposing that he write his documentation book,
which will be available only on a commercial basis (or by barter for
development work) and which cannot be shared as a lab bench manual, and
that any effort to create freely available documentation for scipy.core
undermines his efforts.

Now, we are **extremely** grateful to Travis for rescuing NumPy from a
slow death by decay, and for saving us the pain of having to convert all
our code to numarray (whereas the conversion to scipy.core should be
much less painful). But the foregoing sets off alarm bells ringing in my
head... I really think it would be useful if Travis makes a clear and
unambiguous statement about where he stands on the free, open source
nature of both the scipy.core code AND on documentation for it, just so
we all know where we respectively stand.

I have stated my position (not that it really matters), but I will

a) scipy.core deserves a basic set of documentation (similar to the
current NumPy documentation) which is available to everyone on exactly
the same basis as the scipy.core code itself - that is, freely available
at no cost.

b) It is not Travis's duty to create such freely-available documentation.

c) Others at at liberty to create such freely-available documentation
for scipy.core if they so chose.

d) The documentation which Travis is proposing to write will not be made
freely available until targets of $300k in sales or 7 years have been
reached, and this effectively renders such documentation proprietary.

e) I think that the creation of proprietary supplementary documentation
for scipy.core, as Travis is doing, is a good idea and I will personally
buy several copies provided that the work is licensed in a reasonable
manner (eg sharing of single physical copies as a bench manual is

Tim C

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