[SciPy-User] Pylab - standard packages

Ralf Gommers ralf.gommers@gmail....
Fri Sep 21 11:22:24 CDT 2012

On Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 5:50 PM, Thomas Kluyver <takowl@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 21 September 2012 15:39, Nathaniel Smith <njs@pobox.com> wrote:
> > I think by definition, a "pylab tutorial" would have to be one that is
> > aimed at a somewhat amorphous set of configurations (different OSes,
> > distributions, etc.), and has some other goal beyond describing how to
> > start up a Python REPL. Being able to say "start up a Pylab shell and
> > ..." will already get us quite a long way, so long as all "pylab
> > shells" are equivalent in the ways that matter for the tutorial. Being
> > able to plot matters much more than where exactly in the UI those plot
> > windows end up located.
> If it was as simple as where plot windows turned up, yes. But there
> are a whole host of issues from starting the interface to syntax like
> "foo?" that differ. They might seem trivial, but they're all things
> that will confuse new users going through a tutorial. So I think a
> standard interface is important.

+1 if you mean the IPython REPL with "interface". This is quite
comprehensive already as an introductory tutorial:
http://scipy-lectures.github.com/. And pretty much the first thing it
introduces is IPython.

> >> I'd rather not say 'it has to work x much like IPython, but it needn't
> >> be IPython'.
> >
> > Indeed, that'd be a terrible idea. I mean "pylab shell" as "the shell
> > you get by default when using a pylab-oriented environment (which will
> > be implemented by ipython, and also satisfy these other potential
> > requirements)".
> But what your requirements describe is a subset of IPython's
> functionality, and I expect we'd extend that subset - the 'foo?'
> syntax I mentioned is extremely useful, for instance. Rather than
> people reimplementing that, why not simply push the code we've already
> written for the purpose, i.e. IPython?
> > Right. And IPython-the-REPL is a de facto standard, but IPython
> > notebooks are not. (At least not yet. Obviously with your IPython hat
> > on you're working on changing that :-).)
> I'll agree that the notebook isn't quite a de facto standard, but it
> has gained a lot of traction in a short time. At Euroscipy 2011,
> Fernando demoed the first cut of the notebook, which had been merged
> days earlier. At Euroscipy 2012, we had several demonstrations given
> from notebooks. So even if the notebook isn't in the first version of
> the standard, I hope it will get a place in the future.
> Is this a position we can find consensus on? Pylab distributions
> should include IPython, but need not be able to run IPython notebook,
> i.e. pyzmq and tornado would not be required packages.


> >> P.S. Nathaniel: you describe trying to set conventions for how to test
> >> packages or find documentation, not to mention installing packages. I
> >> agree with all of that, but I'd like to put it under 'battles to fight
> >> another day'. If we're going to do anything, we can't try to do
> >> everything.
> >
> > Really I'm trying to work toward consensus on what "pylab" should mean
> > and what's in principle in scope. If we agree that these are the kinds
> > of things that pylab should stand for, then they can go on the todo
> > list until someone actually gets around to them. Anyway, volunteer
> > effort isn't a conserved quantity. Having a long todo list can
> > actually increase your chances of helpers showing up :-).
> I think those things are out of scope for 'Pylab', in that they
> shouldn't be part of the standard.

I agree with Nathaniel that they're important, and once the work is done to
get all major distributions to do the right thing here, I don't see why
they shouldn't become part of the standard then.


> But in doing this sort of
> integration, we will highlight those inconsistencies, and I hope this
> community will play a key role in fixing them. So by all means put
> them on the to do list, but let's not get distracted by them at the
> moment.
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