[SciPy-User] Pylab - standard packages

Thomas Kluyver takowl@gmail....
Fri Sep 21 05:52:53 CDT 2012

Thanks Fernando, you've coherently explained what I was trying to say
about why we can and should take sides.

On 21 September 2012 02:19, Fernando Perez <fperez.net@gmail.com> wrote:
> I think this has been danced around but not really discussed with
> enough precision: a clear dividing line should be drawn between "needs
> a compiler" and not.  Because the complexities of getting a compiler
> off the ground in some platform are not trivial, and the details
> change over time, I think that the 'base level' should consist of very
> broadly applicable tools that do *not* need a C compiler to be
> installed for working.  The 2nd level would require a C compiler, thus
> putting Cython (and in the future numba or similar tools if llvm
> becomes more widely accepted as the path forward) squarely in that
> camp.

I like this way of drawing a clear, objective distinction between
levels. We would still need to work out how to present the different
levels to users, but that's something I think we could resolve.

> I've had for a while this basic 'layering' of the ecosystem in my mind
> that I use as a starting point for these conversations:
> https://speakerdeck.com/u/fperez/p/1204-biofrontiers-boulder?slide=21
> I think if you take all that minus Cython and Mayavi (for dependency
> complexity reasons, VTK is a non-triival beast to deal with too), the
> rest is a pretty decent core that covers a lot of what a good fraction
> of undergraduate courses in the sciences would broadly need.

To save people a click, Fernando's tiers look like this:

IPython, Scipy, Matplotlib, SymPy
pandas, StatsModels, scikits-learn, scikits-image, scikits-image,
PyTables, NetworkX

That seems like a vision of a much more comprehensive environment than
we had been discussing, but all those packages are familiar names at
Scipy conferences, and it would inarguably make a much more capable
environment out of the box than just numpy+scipy+mpl. If we were to
use that as a starting point, would anyone like to argue against
including some of those packages?

Almar has already spoken against specifying an interface. I'm actually
leaning the other way, although I accept that I could be biased by my
role in IPython. For introductory tutorials, I think it would be very
valuable to have a common interface, so we can describe, say, what to
press to run some code. Otherwise, users would be put off by having to
try to apply a generalised tutorial to their particular environment,
and interpret screenshots that don't match what they see. In
particular, the IPython notebook is a very different model from most

What do other people think? If we did specify an interface, is there
anything we could do to maintain interest in the alternatives?

Best wishes,

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