[AstroPy] AstroLib vs Astlib vs APLpy vs ...
Thu Jun 25 07:40:31 CDT 2009
On Jun 24, 2009, at 7:53 PM, Marshall Perrin wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm a member of that great teeming horde of not-really-using-Python-
> yet astronomers, slowly trying to wean myself from IDL and onto
> Python. I've written a handful of little things in Python but want
> to dive in fully for my next project. As part of that process, I'm
> trying to figure out what the real must-have list of python modules
> is for everyday astronomical tasks. In IDL, there's sort of a
> consensus library that most folks use, at least in part: the Goddard
> IDL Astro library, Craig Markwardt's MPFIT library, Dave Fanning's
> display routines, and so on.
> It doesn't seem like Python yet has that consensus, once you get
> much beyond the triumvirate of scipy, numpy, & matplotlib. Am I
> wrong? As far as I can tell there are several different libraries
> aspiring to be "*the*" astronomy library in Python - AstroLib and
> AstLib both, for instance. You can display nice plots with
> AstLib.ImagePlots or APLpy, manipulate coordinates with
> AstLib.coords or PyWCS, and so on. Which of these should I prefer,
> as a relative python neophyte? Which have the most developer
> momentum behind them right now? It's all a bit confusing, and I'd
> rather try to spend my time being confused about my science objects
> rather than my software choices. ;-)
> It seems like there was a brief attempt to start a discussion about
> this problem here last year (see http://mail.scipy.org/pipermail/scipy-user/2008-April/016062.html
> and followups) but as far as I know, nothing really came of that.
> I don't expect any easy answers here. I'm just curious to hear what
> 'the community' is mostly using these days - if there even is a
> consensus! - and what the recommendations are for someone trying to
> make the big switch away from IDL. Thanks very much!
You certainly point to an important issue and I won't say it isn't a
problem at some level. On the other hand, I see it as a good sign in
some respects. It wasn't all that long ago that no wcs library was
available. And now there are too many :-) That's indicative of much
greater activity in this area and I think that bodes well for the
future if it means some confusion right now.
I was hoping soon to try and start some effort to try to integrate
these efforts, if not into common packages, a common place that people
could obtain them from. I think over time, these different approaches
will eventually settle on one or some merging of the existing ones
once there is a chance to see what the merits of the alternative
approaches are. It's true that this means some annoyance for users in
not knowing which one they should use for a while or the possibility
that the final community package may require them to make changes to
their scripts. Hopefully this situation won't last a very long time
for wcs packages. But it isn't always a bad thing for two or three
different approaches to be tried initially.
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