[Numpy-discussion] matlab vs. python question
Wed Apr 25 16:53:31 CDT 2007
On Apr 25, 2007, at 12:46 PM, Bill Baxter wrote:
> On 4/26/07, Robert Kern <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> Sturla Molden wrote:
>>> On 4/25/2007 8:34 PM, Robert Kern wrote:
>>>> The things that I get annoyed with every time I have to read
>>>> some Matlab code
>>>> are the lack of namespaces and first-class function objects.
>>> Matlab does have first-class function objects. You can get a
>>> handle to
>>> any function using the @ operator. Matlab has closures as well.
>> I wish people would use them, then.
> I think part of the problem is that most people who learn Matlab learn
> it in school strictly as a computing tool rather than a programming
> language. But there are many language features that people just don't
> know about, because writing nice programs is not usually the emphasis
> in the courses where Matlab is taught and used.
> Python is better generally as a language, although the self. thing
> makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. I find myself bending
> over backwards to avoid creating classes just because converting a
> function into a method generally results in an annoying amount of
> self.this self.that self.theother junk.
Agree w/most of what you've said, but will add one other thing that
drives me nuts in python that hasn't been a problem in Matplotlib:
In Python, if interacting w/the interpreter as your primary IDE, and
if you've got multiple files that depend on one another that you're
modifying, then you need to restart the interpreter frequently b/c
otherwise things in the interpreter can be stale; IOW, changes to
several interdependent files aren't easy to import so that everything
in your interpreted environment reflects the latest code. Yeah,
there's reload tricks, but doing them in the right order and the
right number of times can be a pain when dependencies are cyclic.
I realize in general that this issue of stale code is just difficult,
that its not inherently a Python problem per se, for automatic
percolation of code changes backwards in time is difficult in
general, but I've never had the problem bite me when I was developing
in Matlab. I just save whatever file, and it appears that whatever's
latest on disk is what's executed. (Friends who know more about PL
than I tell me I've been lucky.)
It was particularly a problem for me when I was using matplotlib
interactively, which relates to this discussion b/c people often use
Matlab for the graphing. W/that package, I couldn't use something
like IDLE in such a way that it restarted its session every time I
asked it to run a changed file. IDLE was nice, though, in that it had
mouse-settable break points for debugging. That's the other big miss
for me: Python's debugger is cumbersome to use.
Chris mentioned the IDE issue earlier. IMHO, IPython is a better IDE
than IDLE, but its features (e.g. %psource prints code from disk, so
most recent changes are displayed, but it doesn't reflect the code
that an object actually executes) caused me even more confusion
regarding stale code initially.
I've finally gotten used to developing w/IPython (using Francisco's
debug_here() hack for better debugging integration), and I'm almost
as productive as I was before, but it took several months to get there.
I've used Matlab's GUI stuff a bit and didn't find it as awful as
others on this post claim. It also has the nice advantage of handling
both GUI and figure-related threads in the same loop, so I could use
it to write more sophisticated applications than one should do when
using matplotlib+python alone. But I've yet to really use Python-
based GUIs, which are probably much better than what Matlab has to
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