[SciPy-user] Pros and Cons of Python verses other array environments

Marco Leite malleite at gmail.com
Sat Sep 30 15:50:54 CDT 2006

Although I am addicted to Python and a frequent user of Numpy/Scipy,
I don't want to go into the advantages of Python/Scipy/Numpy, as this has
been very
well addressed in many previous posts. But I would like to stress some
issues that I feel and
see/hear more and more from people, and I believe may scare some potential
away from Scipy/Numpy.

I think we can draw parallels with many other situations, like Latex/ Word
for example. I've got
used to the "not so clear and direct" way to write a 10 line letter in
Latex, but I also got
used to very high quality of the output produced by it. But there was a time
where getting all the TeX
packages to work together, set up the outputs and so on was a long term
project, and
required some head scratching. There was a possibility that I would never
endure that
if all I ever had to  do was to write 10 lines letters. I did that because
what  was available did not
met the requirements of the project. I am not saying that Numpy/Scipy is in
that same stage,
but, for example, only recently we saw an effort to converge to one array
package (not to mention
that the type array exists in both the standard python package distribution,
although different).
There are other small quirks, that sometimes is a distribution  fault, like
matplotlib failing to compile on
Suse 10.  These are  minor problems  once one  realizes all the potential
of  Python /Numpy/Scipy, but
to overcome, understand and solve this may require  some big motivation from
the first time user, and can
scare the "prospector" type of user, the one thinking  "let me try this to
see what I can do with it".  The problem
is that this creates a first impression of broken or alpha software that
will not go away easily ...

It's good to see that most of this is being addressed, but as someone
pointed out, it still requires
some travel to different sites and maybe some fiddling to get all working
together.  Having one
big package may not be feasible due distribution restrictions, but a good
improvement may
be to work with the distributions to have rpms, debs and alike ready to use,
even during
of the development stage.


Marco Leite
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