[SciPy-dev] Roadmap for SciPy/Numpy

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Thu Mar 29 10:25:10 CDT 2007

> I would like to know if there is somme kind of roadmap for the developpement 
> of SciPy/Numpy, I can't find it on the web site, neither on this mailing 
> list.

There is a roadmap for everything except the software itself (docs,
releases, etc.) in http://scipy.org/Developer_Zone (scroll to the
bottom).  The Developer_Zone page is the right place to list people
and to put a more formal roadmap/timetable.  But, a timeline can't
happen until people step up to lead the component efforts.

It seems the community is in the perpetual state of having a *lot* of
ready workers, but only a few committed leaders.  We need:

Someone to lead the creation of binary installers for all platforms,
	especially the various Linux distros.
Someone to write a tutorial user manual that is not field-specific
	and that has plenty of worked examples.  It must be presented
	as (at least) a single PDF plus example zip file.
Someone to lead the scipy release team, as Travis does for numpy, and
	push actively toward a 1.0 release.  This may be progressing
	quietly, below the radar, or may be stalled, I don't know.
	There was activity as recently as last December.

We worked out the priorities and even some of the broad parameters of
these projects years ago, but only a few of the identified goals have
had any progress (notably the unification of numarray and Numeric, and
ongoing maintenance of numpy, thank you Travis!).  A road map is a
good thing, but without more willing leaders, we will continue to have
little progress in these key areas.

On the positive side, the number of willing workers is high, so when
someone does step up to lead, they will have a lot of help.  I expect
that a good leader who can delegate and manage effectively will put in
no more time than one of the workers, say 4-10 hours a week.

The situation of the lagging binary installers is most sad, and is the
main thing that keeps people away from this software.  Almost everyone
I know in physics, and many people in astronomy, know about SciPy.
However, they're all still waiting for it to "stabilize", which to
them means they can install it with yum or synaptic or whatever (and
it works every time when they do), and they see regular releases, and
they see all the packages and platforms and OS versions supported for
each release right from the start.  Seeing a tarball for the current
release, and just an outdated binary for *their* platform for some
ancient releases, is insulting to them.  It also indicates a project
in danger of not having the critical mass to stay afloat for the long
haul, so people rightly hesitate in committing their projects to
python.  We know better, but the only way to communicate that (and to
get the large number of new users that would result) is to make binary
packages in the traditional way, and keep them current.

Since we've called for people to step forward and take charge of these
areas before, do folks have ideas on ways to bring a financial
incentive to bear?  I've talked to more than a few people who could
throw $10k at the problem, as could I, but there isn't an easy way to
ensure long-term stability of a hired position.  Would Enthough be
willing to sell "support" for $5k a contract, and hire someone on a
contract basis for, say, $50k to build binaries and write docs that
happen also to go on the web site and get made part of the project?
The supported entities would get to decide which platforms to do
first, and would have some say in how it was done.



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