[AstroPy] specutils, pyspeckit, etc.

Perry Greenfield stsci.perry@gmail....
Fri Jun 21 07:15:20 CDT 2013

On Jun 20, 2013, at 5:26 PM, Adam wrote:

> (apologies for the subject and my delay in replying, I have been
> receiving astropy-users e-mails in digest form and have missed nearly
> everything.  So this e-mail is also a vote to move to
> astropy-users@google)
> As Erik said, it's best to merge these parallel efforts and try to
> develop one common package with a nice interface.  My vision for the
> future of pyspeckit is essentially to have it be a wrapper of
> specutils + astropy.models + astropy.units, and in fact my current
> coding effort is mostly going in that direction (see, e.g.,
> spectroscopic equivalencies in astropy).  I wanted to raise it as an
> example of something that works *right now*, but doesn't work
> perfectly (as Jonathan rightly pointed out).  Most of the models
> implemented in pyspeckit should be very easy to re-write as
> astropy.models... models.  That goal, in particular, is a big
> component of one of the specutils SOCIS proposed projects.
> Also, pyspeckit's frontend is matplotlib-only, which is slow but
> compatible with everything.  Because it's matplotlib-only, and
> matplotlib doesn't have a ton of GUI features (more than you'd think,
> fewer than you need), the GUI side is very IRAF-splot-like.
I like this approach very much as a starter. Something that gets interactive functionality going quickly, and it is very portable. It's not the equivalent of a good GUI I know, but it's achievable more easily and avoids a lot of installation issues.

Which got me thinking a bit. Someone (I forgot who) mentioned that the emails were likely being done in a GUI (and this one certainly is). But it's GUI used by millions of people, and has very substantial developer effort behind it. Arguably it's much simpler than what is needed for spectral analysis and visualization. So what widely used GUI data visualization/analysis applications (let's say non-web for the moment) in astronomy have stood the test of time? I.e., those used only by astronomers. Certainly DS9. (Perhaps imexamine and splot, though those are more like the simpler approach above rather than what we consider GUI's). Aladin? TOPCAT. There are a number of VO-related tools that are GUI's but I'm not sure how heavily they are used. What is people's views of these?

I ask since I wonder if there is a consensus of what are successful astronomy GUI's and what we can learn from them. 

But it also sure seems that there is a very strong movement towards using browsers as the GUI platform and that is where most tools will be headed. With IPython providing a Python/browser connection, I wonder if soon we won't be able to use it for GUIs as well.


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