[Numpy-discussion] NumPy documentation

Zachary Pincus zpincus at stanford.edu
Tue Apr 4 16:48:06 CDT 2006

Hi folks -

I must admit that when I first saw the trelgol web page, I was  
briefly a bit confused and put off about the prospect of moving to  
numpy from Numeric. Now, it didn't take long for me to come to my  
senses and realize (a) that no formerly-free documentation had been  
revoked, (b) that there was enough documentation about the C API in  
the numpy distribution to get me started, (c) that there was a lot of  
support available on the email list, and most importantly (d) that  
Travis and many others are extremely generous with their time, both  
in answering emails on the numpy list and in making numpy better.

I now of course wholeheartedly agree with everything everyone has  
said in this thread, and with the idea behind selling the  
documentation. In fact, I feel a bit ashamed that I ever felt  
otherwise, even though it was just for a few minutes.

However, were I a more grumpy (or stupid) type, I might not have come  
to my senses as rapidly, or ever. That would have been my loss, of  
course. But, perhaps a few little things could help newcomers better  
understand the rationale behind the ebook.

Basically, everyone on this list knows (and supports, it seems!) the  
reasoning behind selling the docs, because it was discussed on the  
list. However, it's not hard to imagine someone new to numpy, or  
maybe a convert from Numeric (who was used to the large, free manual)  
scratching their head a little when confronted with http:// 
www.tramy.us/ . (It's less reasonable to imagine someone then going  
on to personally attack Travis in email -- that's absolutely  

I would suggest that the link from the scipy page be changed to point  
to http://www.tramy.us/guidetoscipy.html , which is a little more  
clearly about the ebook, and a little less about the publishing  
method. It might not hurt to expand a bit on that page and mention  
the basic reasoning behind selling the docs, and even (if you see  
fit, Travis) to maybe include links to the other numpy documentation  
resources (list archive and sign up page, old and out-of-date Numeric  
reference [with maybe some mention of why buying the book would be  
better, but that the old ref at least gives the right high-level  
picture to get a newcomer started using numpy], and the numpy wiki  
pages). Any of this would certainly put a newcomer in a more  
charitable state of mind, and forestall any lingering concerns about  
greed or any such foolishness.

Since free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it, feel free to  
ignore any or all of this. I just wanted to mention a few easy things  
that I think might help newcomers understand and feel good about the  
ebook (the first step toward buying it!).


On Apr 4, 2006, at 5:36 PM, Tim Hochberg wrote:

> Travis,
> I'm sorry to hear that you received such an unwarranted attack.  
> Although, sadly, not terribly suprised; there are plenty of  
> unpleasant fanatics of various stripes that roam the bitstreams.   
> Let me add a hearty "me too" to everything that Chris just said.
> This finally motivated me to go out and buy your book, something  
> that's been on my list of things that I should do "one of these  
> days now". I'm hoping that makes this mystery person unhappy.
> Regards,
> -tim
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