[IPython-User] iPython QTConsole - Force yellow quickref guide to appear again?

Francesco Montesano franz.bergesund@gmail....
Mon Sep 10 03:26:45 CDT 2012

Dear Aaron,

thanks for the detailed description.

2012/9/10 Aaron Meurer <asmeurer@gmail.com>:
> On Sat, Sep 8, 2012 at 9:39 PM, Fernando Perez <fperez.net@gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 12:07 PM, Francesco Montesano
>> <franz.bergesund@gmail.com> wrote:
>>> If I use the ? after the command it does as you, but if I use the help
>>> function (help(range), help(plot)) it prints both texts on the
>>> console.
>>> The ? has the same behaviour on the qtconsole and the standard ipython
>>> terminal, but in the latter the help function opens a pager
>>> independently of the length of the docstring (and I personally prefer
>>> this way). Would be hard to give the help the same behaviour?
>>> I'm tempted to open a feature request in github to pipe the help(...)
>>> into the pager
>> help() is a builtin function in the standard library, we have no
>> control over it. I'm sure we could monkeypatch our way around it, but
>> it's not worth the effort: ? is ipython's machinery, and that's where
>> we focus our efforts.
> I was hoping that you might be able to "trick" help() into using the
> qtconsole's pager.  It uses a function in pydoc called getpager() (do
> "import pydoc" and "pydoc.getpager??" to see it).
> It looked like it uses the environment variable "PAGER" if it is
> defined.  The qtconsole seems to have this defined as 'cat'. I thought
> maybe the qtconsole should be change os.environ["PAGER"] from 'cat' to
> whatever it uses to emulate less with ? and ?? (what would that be by
> the way?).  But apparently that's not the issue. getpager() first
> checks if type(sys.stdout) is types.FileType (in the qtconsole it is
> IPython.zmq.iostream.OutStream, which assumedly is not something that
> can be changed).  If it isn't, it just uses the regular
> sys.stdout.write "pager". So to really trick help(), you'd have to
> monkeypatch pydoc.getpager.  Or else redefine help() as the same as
> the regular help() but using the qtconsole pager. Either way, you're
> changing the built-in directly.
Looking at the python2.7.3 and 3.2 source, it seems like the problem
is (even) more complex.
In pydoc.getpager() after check the type of sys.stdout, the function
checks if stdin and stdout are interactive

python 2.7
     |  python3.2

if type(sys.stdout) is not types.FileType:                       |
if not hasattr(sys.stdout, "isatty"):
        return plainpager
   |        return plainpager
    if not sys.stdin.isatty() or not sys.stdout.isatty():       |
if not sys.stdin.isatty() or not sys.stdout.isatty():
        return plainpager
   |        return plainpager

IPython.zmq.iostream.OutStream has isatty attribute, so requesting to change
"if type(sys.stdout) is not types.FileType:" to "if not
hasattr(sys.stdout, "isatty"):" in python 2.7, will make the first
'if' to be skipped.
But in the qtconsole sys.stdout(=IPython.zmq.iostream.OutStream) and
sys.stdin(=open file '<stdin>', mode 'r') are not interactive (at
least under 2.7.x)
In [86]: not sys.stdin.isatty() or not sys.stdout.isatty()
Out[86]: True

It looks like I'll have to change my habits about help when using the
ipython afterall, although I don't like too much the fact that ? and
?? do not use a pager if the output is shorter than the screen. Is
there a simple way to use the pager in any case (some rc parameter or


> If you want, maybe you could open an issue in the CPython bug tracker
> for a way to enable the pager even when type(sys.stdout) is not
> FileType.
> Aaron Meurer
>> Cheers,
>> f
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