[SciPy-dev] Re: Future directions

Nils Wagner nwagner at mecha.uni-stuttgart.de
Wed Mar 9 07:10:26 CST 2005


Gary Ruben wrote:

>> It would seem that while the scipy conference demonstrates a 
>> continuing and even increasing use of Python for scientific 
>> computing,  not as many of these users are scipy devotees.   Why?
>>
>> I think the answers come down to a few issues which I will attempt to 
>> answer with proposals.
>>
>> 1) Plotting -- scipy's plotting wasn't good enough (we knew that) and 
>> the promised solution (chaco) took too long to emerge as a simple 
>> replacement.  While the elements were all there for chaco to work, 
>> very few people knew that and nobody stepped up to take chaco to the 
>> level that matplotlib, for example, has reached in terms of cross-gui 
>> applicability and user-interface usability.
>
>
> I found plt and gplt too limiting from early on and quickly moved to 
> gnuplot.py
> Matplotlib would be a nice choice, mainly due to its active 
> development, clean interface and good documentation.
> I haven't been keeping up - is Chaco dead? That would be a shame. 
> Python is still missing a cross-platform GUI-interactive plotting 
> package. A long time ago, I toyed with implementing errorbars in 
> Chaco, but found it too unapproachable, mainly due to lack of 
> documentation.
>
>> 2) Installation problems -- I'm not completely clear on what the 
>> "installation problems" really are.  I hear people talk about them, 
>> but Pearu has made significant strides to improve installation, so 
>> I'm not sure what precise issues remain.  Yes, installing ATLAS can 
>> be a pain, but scipy doesn't require it.  Yes, fortran support can be 
>> a pain, but if you use g77 then it isn't a big deal.    The reality, 
>> though, is that there is this perception of installation trouble and 
>> it must be based on something.   Let's find out what it is.  Please 
>> speak up users of the world!!!!
>
>
> They may be thinking of what it used to be like - things have 
> improved, so it may be a case of re-education or patience.
>
>> Thoughts and comments (and even half-working code) welcomed and 
>> encouraged...
>>
>> -Travis O.
>
>
> One thing missing from your list about lack of uptake is lack of 
> decent pdf-based documentation a'la Numeric or Numarray or even 
> matplotlib docs. I know this was discussed a little while back so it 
> will happen, but I personally think it is a hurdle for people wanting 
> to know exactly what Scipy contains and could be the main reason for 
> lower than expected uptake.
>
I quite agree with you. Of course there are some sources of 
documentation but a central source
like a complete and pdf-based manual would  simplify matters.

Moreover scipy could benifit from supporting features which are rarely 
available
in other numerical packages (e.g.sparse matrices, large scale 
eigenproblems, to name a few)
(I am aware of the fact, that there is no all-in-one device suitable for 
every purpose.)

Lust but not least some kind of redundance in developing numerical 
packages is visible
(at least from my point of view). Competition is helpful, but
why can't I see an effort to focus on a few but well developed packages.


BTW, the installation of scipy is not at all the problem.

Many thanks to all the developers of scipy.

Nils

> One day I'll get my ErrorVal module cleaned up enough to re-propose it 
> for inclusion in Scipy :-) but I'm studying honours physics at the 
> moment, so I have no life or time.
>
> Gary
>
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