[SciPy-user] Thoughts on GUI development

Barry Wark barrywark@gmail....
Fri Aug 22 15:12:24 CDT 2008

I think what Stef is getting at is that effective scientific software
may need to match its user model to the user's world model. In other
words, the "workflow" matters. If the software requires the user
(scientist/engineer/etc.) to deal with data or process in a different
order than the order implied by their experiment, the software is not
as good as it could be. In my view, this is why we build UIs--so that
we can match the software model to the user's model such that the
software is "invisible" to the user in doing their work. I contend
that it is a rare case when a CLI interface is the *best* fit to the
user's world model.

Of course, as Gael points out, writing GUIs takes time. The tradeoff
then is efficiency of use for the user versus efficiency of delivery
time for the developer.


On Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 3:23 PM, Stef Mientki <s.mientki@ru.nl> wrote:
> Eric Bruning wrote:
>> Hi Gael, et al.:
>> Regrettably, I couldn't attend scipy this year, but have been enjoying
>> everyone's slides. I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this
>> message is, but one item in your slides was quite relevant to what
>> I've been working on this week.
>> In your lightning talk on the interactive shell, you wrote:
>> "What do we gain with GUIs?
>> -Pretty look and feel
>> -Doesn't make you more productive/richer: no economic or academic incentive"
>> At a gut level, I disagree that GUIs don't make you more productive. I
>> imagine that you and others probably disagree, too. After all, we must
>> find *some* non-superficial value in them to go to the effort of
>> writing them! For certain datasets, I've found that I can't do the
>> analysis I want without a good GUI for browsing and tagging data.
>> Since this involves syncing up plots and animations across 4D, the
>> code is non-trivial.
>> So, the snag comes at the point of trying to justify all the time you
>> spend writing a GUI app; you hope for future efficiency in analysis,
>> but the benefits are pushed into the future right along with
>> publishable results (==riches, such as it is in academia). And much of
>> the efficiency comes by implementing the hardest features: not just
>> plots, but draggable, zoomable, taggable, animated, linked plots.
>> Perhaps the best way to conclude is by saying thanks to all those that
>> are pushing forward on the graphical toolkits. The faster it is to
>> make an app, the less conflict we'll all feel when justifying time
>> spent crafting GUIs.
> For every specialist, it doesn't matter what tool he uses, GUI or not.
> But for the boys and girls that once in a while need some tools,
> GUI is very very convenient way of not have to know / remember all the
> small details !!
> Why do you think all amateurs (and a few professionals) like LabView so
> much ;-)
> But even more important than the GUI is feeding the user with the right
> apriori knowledge of the tool and the domain at the right time.
> Just my 2 cents,
> I'm not an expert, but ...
> ... I'm trying to build a Labview equivalent in Python ;-)
> cheers,
> Stef
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