[SciPy-user] About alternatives to Matlab

Jerry lanceboyle at qwest.net
Mon Nov 20 17:46:24 CST 2006


I know this is a shot from the dark, but IMO a better paradigm to  
emulate is that of Igor Pro (what Matlab wants to be if it ever grows  
up). Demo versions for Mac OS X and Windows are at www.wavemetrics.com.

It's hard to describe what this amazing program does because it does  
so much. I have a few personal dislikes about it but by comparison,  
Matlab "isn't even wrong," to misuse a quote from Wolfgang Pauli.  
Yes, you can build a customized GUI _very_ easily (I'm guessing with  
much less programming than Chaco2) but it comes out-of-the-box with  
more GUI than most people need.

I'll try to summarize, then kick myself later for forgetting most  
things:

- Interactive interpreter
- Compiled language
- Tons and tons of GIU for interactive data exploration
- Get this-- everything you do on-screen with your mouse can be  
programmed if you desire. Most dialogs will EITHER execute the task  
that you have set up (say, import some data from a file with X bytes  
of header arranged in M rows and N columns in little-endian single  
precision floats, or plot a particular set of array data with fine  
control over appearance) OR place the command to do same in the  
clipboard or command line. This is a great way to learn how to write  
your own programs.
- Lots and lots of built-in analysis functions--an amazing assortment  
with built-in LAPACK (but weak in signal processing)
- Report-quality graphics
- Many import and export possibilities, both data and graphical
- Notebooks for organizing data, programs, plots, and commentary
- Built-in word processor integrated with everything else
- Real-time interface to external devices for data collection and  
control
- A well-thought-out data inspector, a kind of project manager for  
any amount of data.
- It is friendly to enormous amounts of data.
- Plotting is bloody fast.

Its not just a kitchen-sink program but all of its components are  
highly integrated. It is at least 15 years old and getting a little  
creaky in some ways. For example, it doesn't use antialiased drawing  
on OS X and in some cases fonts aren't antialiased either. (However,  
Postscript and PDF export are fine, I believe.)

I believe the price is around $500.

Matlab should be embarassed.

Jerry



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