[SciPy-user] SciPy '04 BoF: Making Python Attractive to General Scientists

Joe Harrington jhmail at oobleck.astro.cornell.edu
Mon Aug 30 17:11:08 CDT 2004

Making Python Attractive to General Scientists
BoF session at SciPy '04

Joe Harrington, Cornell
Perry Greenfield, STScI

1. Intro: Why don't more people use Python for scientific analysis? 10 min
 - typical new user experience
 - which cohort of new users is it most advantageous to attract?
 - what's needed before they'll try it
 - what they'll need to stay
 - impact of competitors
2. What needs to be done? 10 min
 - start with draft list
 - brief open discussion to add/change list
3. Getting people to do it. 10 min
 - (Note that, while we'd like people to get involved directly, we are
    realistic in knowing that many are already doing what they can.
    We're looking for ideas on getting more people in the wider
    community interested.)
 - how big are the pieces?
 - what kind of people should do each item: e.g., coders vs. writers
 - how to find and involve those people
     - find people to volunteer to hand-hold some doc writers through learning
4. Approaches to making it easier/faster. 15 min
 - focus on documenting just a core subset?
 - can we afford to reduce optimization to ease maintenance, early on?
 - broadening the community through outreach
 - hiring writers & packagers
5. How to proceed. 15 min
 - discussion of specific plans

Our short-term goal is to make Python attractive enough for ordinary,
non-developer scientists to try it out, particularly those on
platforms not well-supported by the current distribution systems.  The
long-term goals are to extend the community, and to draw from the
extended community more and better documentation and application
software.  While we do have ideas about where we think we need to go,
the purpose of this BoF is to see whether the community agrees that
accessibility is an important issue, and if so what is needed to
achieve it.

Please join us for a BoF on Thursday night.


Joe Harrington
326 Space Sciences Building
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-6801
(607) 254-8960 office
(607) 255-9002 fax
jh at oobleck.astro.cornell.edu

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