[IPython-user] A 'Mathematica Notebook' interface for python work?

Ero Carrera ero at dkbza.org
Sun May 9 08:00:25 CDT 2004

On Fri, May 07, 2004 at 10:39:45AM +0200, Arnd Baecker wrote:
> I had a quick look and it seems very interesting, indeed.
> Actually, some year ago or so I also wrote some code
> to embed python in TeXMacs, but did not push that really far.
> There are a couple of things which I find not optimal with TeXMacs,
> but there are many many really cool features.
> Let me mention just a few  problematic points
>   - I find TeXMacs (even on a PIV, 2 GHz, 1G RAM) a bit slow
>     (but there is a big machinery behind)

There is, but when dealing with a Python session with some relatively big
embedded Postscripts the thing slows down a lot.

>   - there are some many menu points, which might confuse
>     those users mostly interested in the python side
>     (maybe a way to customize this would be helpful)
>   - I don't like the menu-handling: click to  appear, click
>     to dissapear and then click for the next menu item
>     (Uups, I just managed to seg-fault it ...;-()

The interface is for from snappy. I would prefer something QT based, for
instance. Well integrated into nowadays desktops. Trying to cut&paste from/into
TeXmacs is just painful.

>   -  concerning the python mode:
>      I think that a proper multiline mode
>      is a must have.
>      Also there should be no need to think about spaces and
>      such (ie. the normal 4 spaces convention should just work).

Yeah, that was and is my main target. For my work, such a mode where I can run
individual blocks of code, is really an advantage.
The thing with the spaces is what I'm most unhappy with, in the plugin. But I could
not find any way of dealing with multiline blocks properly, due that TeXmacs removes
newline when feeding the code to execute to the plugin.

> I think that there are two options now:
> A) the small one: try to get TeXmacs to do what we would
>    like to have.
> B) First go for a full discussion about a wish-list
>    for features for something which I called SciPyWorkBench
>    in a private mail to Fernando a while ago.
>    (Maybe PythonWorkBench or PyNumWorkBench might be
>    a better and more general name...;-).
>    I updated my notes on this and append them at the end of this mail.
> Realizing all wishes from B) would be a huge project, I fear,
> and I for myself don't have any time left beyond
> devoting time for testing/bug reports/etc.
> Still it might be useful to spend a bit of time on B)
> to gather some ideas.
> (One could even think of inviting people from c.l.p, Numeric
> and scipy to the discussion).
> > While Alex's code works great, I have the impression that Texmacs is a more
> > appropriate environment than X/Emacs for having our dream 'Mathematica
> > notebook' interface.  I could imagine even implementing styled text regions
> > where one could type arbitrarily font-prettifyed text (including mathematics).
> > These could simply be encoded inside the resulting file as top-level
> > """strings""" with special markers on their first line defining format.  This
> > would allow any 'session' to remain valid python code, while also being (when
> > used inside the Texmacs environment) a mathematically commented document.
> I like this idea a lot!

I'd go for B. It's a huge project, but if well attacked and preformed could provide
with an amazing tool for scientific research.

So please, if anybody has requests/ideas/suggestions that should be considered
in an early stage of planning, please share them. I'd love to work on something like that.
I'm really convinced I could find some time for it. And already having a base
as IPython, it's not starting completely from zero :-)


Ero Carrera                          Anti-Virus Researcher
                                     F-Secure Corp.
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  I was born not knowing and have had only a little time
  to change that here and there.
                           Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)

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