[SciPy-dev] SciPy Foundation

Johann Cohen-Tanugi cohen@lpta.in2p3...
Sun Aug 16 12:01:13 CDT 2009

Hi Joe, just one quick comment : I really think that you cannot use 
scipy name without certainly creating misunderstandings down the line. 
It is crazy in my mind to rely on 2 upper/lowercases to differentiate 2 
different "objects". I do not like the difference package/toolstack 
either. For one thing you may have more confusion coming from the non 
English native speakers than you really wish!
Why no Py4Science? It does convey the ultimate goal of this effort, and 
I only saw it in the context of ipython and matplotlib : first hit from 
google is http://ipython.scipy.org/moin/Py4Science which was a practical 
workshop in python usage for scientific work (I think content still 
lives in matplotlib SVN).

anyway, my two cents.....


Joe Harrington wrote:
> I've finally had time to look at all the replies to this thread.
> There were dozens, so rather than quoting and responding to everyone
> individually, I'll summarize.  The short version is that due to an
> early misunderstanding, we spent a lot of bandwidth generating
> agreement that masqueraded as dissent!  In the end, I think we have
> general agreement (and no specific dissent) to the idea of an
> organization dedicated to development of scientific tools in Python
> and gathering and disbursing funds to that end.  We even agree on our
> major priorities.  So, I propose that we move forward with planning.
> There's a BoF proposal at the end.
> Here's the longer version:
> 1. Objection: The mission statement stuffs too much into one package.
> The scipy package doesn't need a GUI!  (Long post by Gael 2009-08-01
> 22:52:16, shorter one by Robert 2009-08-04 19:37:01, many others.)
> My apologies to these fine gentlemen and others who discussed on this
> threadlet, but this was a bit of a bandwidth waster since I started my
> proposed mission statement with "(The toolstack)", not "SciPy" or
> "scipy".  Of course nobody would go to such lengths just for one
> package, nor propose stuffing so much into it that exists elsewhere
> and is in wide use already (GUIs, interactive shells, etc.).  We're
> talking broadly about scientific use of Python.
> Robert proposed a name change to avoid such ambiguity.  SciPython?
> SciPyStack? Py4Sci?  Scientific Python is taken.  I really prefer
> SciPy, as it has branding already, but perhaps SciPyStack is ok
> informally.  I think we're stuck with SciPy for formal docs, web site,
> etc, just like JPL (which has not studied the propulsion of jets or
> rocket engines for decades).  What this means is:
> a. POSTERS BE CLEAR: specify package or toolstack when you talk about
> scipy.  Use "SciPy" for the toolstack and "scipy" for the package, but
> don't rely on that alone.  (note: I did this!)
> b. RESPONDENTS BE CAREFUL: double-check what the poster wrote before
> replying if it's about "scipy" or "SciPy".
> 2. It's important for the package structure to be light.
> Yes!  I am not proposing to change the package structure at all.
> People need to be able to pick and choose, and it needs to be light
> for many reasons, such as OLPC.
> However, as a practical matter, I know of *nobody* who is a heavy user
> and who does not install a significant number of packages.  We install
> about 15 python-related packages now for our group.  It has become a
> nightmare that takes my very experienced system manager, an Ubuntu
> developer with a PhD in computer science, several days.  Basically, if
> you want everything current (e.g., to get recent docs in numpy, or HDF
> libraries that actually work), it is hard to do a consistent build
> without doing a lot of patching.  Clearly, most potential users cannot
> tolerate that, or even do it.
> So, I would like to see packaging *coordination* such that a
> monolithic install is as trivial for the user as it is to install one
> package.  From my discussion with hundreds of users who are sitting on
> the sidelines in my discipline alone, this and docs are essentially
> what they are waiting for.  Done right, I think most of the relevant
> package authors would welcome the opportunity to coordinate (but I
> don't speak for them).  Exactly what and how is a matter to discuss
> but let's get the overall project structure settled first.
> 3. This is going to be a lot of work, particularly IDEs and GUIs!  I
> don't want to burn out or hurt my career.
> People should not burn out or hurt their careers on service projects!
> It's the first rule of academia.  There are tons of workers who will
> happily contribute small bits if they were served in nice-sized chunks
> and integrated by someone when finished.  There are lots more willing
> to work for pay, or even partial pay.  This proposal is a way of
> moving to that model, which might also be called "many hands make
> light work".  I think the doc project proves the viability of the
> paid-coordinator model.  For IDEs and GUIs, there are good starts
> already.  With enough momentum, we can directly fund development to
> provide something better.
> 4. Why not use Sage/EPD/etc.?
> Those solve the monolithic packaging problem, usually inelegantly but
> that's the only way to do it today.  There is plenty broken in our own
> house before we even get to the monolithic packaging problem, like
> missing documentation, code cleanups, API
> stabilization/rationalization, and getting packages to build together
> for all platforms.
> Once that's done, Sage's and our goals might well merge.  Still, Sage
> has its own focus, and it is not scientific modeling and data
> analysis.  EPD focuses on Windows.  My ideal would be that our
> much-improved packaging makes rolling a monolithic distro for a
> particular purpose much easier, in some cases as easy as publishing a
> meta-package that pulls in what you want as dependencies.  Then STScI
> can release an astronomy distro, someone else can release a
> neuroscience distro, and Sage can release their thing for math, all
> benefitting from a toolstack that builds cleanly together.
> 5. Packaging is hard.  What we need is (long description of packaging
> needs)...
> What we need is fully-automated builds that populate PPAs on all
> platforms for every version and a nightly snapshot of every package,
> and tests run nightly that show they still work together.  There is a
> tool that does this.  It was funded by the US National Science
> Foundation and is required for applicants to many of their grant
> programs.  It is called metronome, formerly NMI Build and Test Suite:
> http://nmi.cs.wisc.edu/
> At last count, they build on 46 platforms.  Getting there will be
> hard.  That is what money is for.
> Story: When I was a freshman in 1984, there was a free student
> computing system at MIT called Multics that was run by a student
> group.  Your account had a certain amount of "money", which it charged
> for CPU usage and printing.  When you ran out, you asked for more
> "money" and got it for free.  There was a sign on the door to the
> group's office that said, "If you need more money, use the
> request-extension command."  But, it was done with funky colors and
> words going every which way, and to me it initially read, "If you need
> more, use money, the request-extension command."  I've looked at money
> in a different light ever since...
> Gael Varoquaux 2009-08-01 22:52:16 GMT writes:
>> Specifically, I would love to see an official umbrella project for
>> BSD-licensed tools for building scientific projects with Python. As the
>> "scipy" name is well branded (through the website, and the conference),
>> we could call this the 'scipy project'. I would personally like to limit
>> wheel reinvention and have preferred solutions for the various bricks (I
>> am thinking of the unfortunate Chaco versus Matplotlib situation, where I
>> have to depend on both libraries that complement each other). 
> This is exactly what I am proposing.  Pretty much everything else in
> the message was based on a misunderstandings of my intent about
> package vs. toolstack.  I would not limit it to BSD-licensed tools,
> but would want that to continue to be a requirement for the core
> stuff, and likely for grants we would write.  In other words, if a
> benefactor came along wanting to give some cash to a field-specific
> project that was under GPL, fine, I'd be glad to funnel their money to
> the developers.
>> first, as Robert points out,
>> telling somebody what to do will not achieve anything. I am already way
>> too busy scratching my own itches. 
> It works well if you are paying them.  What is amazing (witness the
> doc project) is that if just one person is paid to organize an area,
> lots of people flock to the project and pitch in doing small tasks.
> Not everyone.  Not even most people.  But enough.  That is what the
> funding is for.  It's the request_extension command!  Specifically,
> extension of effort on the part of someone who would otherwise find
> other uses for their time.
>> Second, who will find the time to take care of this?
> I've been doing it since Spring 2008 for the doc project.  Hopefully a
> few others will join me so we can write some grants, start a funding
> organization, and launch something more permanent and far-reaching.
> I've proposed a BoF on this topic.  I immodestly think it could be the
> most important of the meeting.  I propose Thursday at 8:30 (I think
> that 2.5 hours for dinner is too much and that we should start the
> BoFs much earlier, like at 7:30, so we can do an early and a late set
> of BoFs.  I'm not sure what the reception is.  Is it dinner?  Or just
> a delay in the start of dinner?).  Alternatively, we can do it Friday
> over lunch, though that depends on getting some box lunches.  Proposed
> format:
> Organization, Funding, and Future Direction of SciPy
> (coordinator: Joe Harrington, sergeant-at-arms: David Goldsmith)
> I'd like to spend a strict 10 minutes on each of these, cutting off
> discussion and moving on after each item. After all 6 items, we can
> continue discussion on any item:
>     * What are our long-term goals?
>     * What are our current strengths and weaknesses?
>     * How is our current Steering Committee/grass-roots model working?
>     * What would we do with funding? Would it require a change in how
>         the community operates? 
>     * How can we get funding?
>     * In the large, how should we proceed?
> --jh--
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