[SciPy-dev] SciPy Foundation

Dag Sverre Seljebotn dagss@student.matnat.uio...
Sat Aug 1 04:57:15 CDT 2009

I am going to play the devil's advocate here -- I'm not into this in order
to make myself enemies, I just have some sincere questions.

Joe Harrington wrote:
> I define success as popular adoption in preference to commercial
> packages.  I believe in vote-with-your-feet: this goal will not be
> reached until all aspects of the package and its presentation to the
> world exceed those of our commercial competition.  Scipy is now a
> grass roots effort, but that takes it only so far.  Other projects,
> such as OpenOffice and Sage, don't follow this model and do produce
> quality products that compete with commercial offerings, at least on
> open-source platforms.  Before we can even hope for that, we have to
> do the following:


> - Public communication
>   - A real marketing plan
>   - Executing on that plan
>   - Web site geared toward multiple audiences, run by experts at that
>     kind of communication
>   - More webinars, conference booths, training, aimed at all levels
>   - Demos, testimonials, topical forums, all showcased

A thing OpenOffice.org and Sage both have is a very clear sense of
direction and a clearly stated goal.

SciPy might also have that for all I know, but I must admit I haven't
understood what it is in the past year following the SciPy and NumPy
lists, and reading the SciPy site. But I have seen email threads asking
what the SciPy goal is, without any clear resolution (?).

The website says this: "SciPy is open-source software for mathematics,
science, and engineering."

Which of course says nothing at all. Someone asked me what SciPy is the
other day, and while I more or less "know" when I'd try to look in SciPy
for an algorithm (instead of going to, say, R, or netlib.org, or
whatever), I was more or less forced to say that it is a "dumping ground
for various algorithms people have found useful, with the link being them
being either written in Python or wrapped for Python".

That's probably an unfair description -- the point is: If one needs to
formulate a two- or three-liner about SciPy, what would it be? Is it a
goal to reimplement stuff in SciPy that's (for instance) already thriving
in the open source R community, or is that not a goal? And so on.

You might feel this is going off-topic, but I somehow feel that a very
clear sense of direction is paramount when talking of these issues -- just
look at the Sage project.

Dag Sverre

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