[SciPy-User] Pylab - standard packages

Nathaniel Smith njs@pobox....
Sun Sep 23 14:00:31 CDT 2012

On Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM, Fernando Perez <fperez.net@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 2:43 PM, Nathaniel Smith <njs@pobox.com> wrote:
>> But empirically,
>> that's not true yet, and the way to get there is for you guys to
>> continue kicking ass, not for "pylab" to legislate something. Trying
>> would alienate people. So it's just a process and scope objection,
>> nothing to do with the notebook idea at all.
> Well, but the point of pylab *is* partly to 'legislate', since we're
> defining a spec.

But that's not how specs work. We're just some people on a mailing
list, we don't have taxation power or anything. I think of it like, we
want to have an impact. If we suggest that someone do something that
they would do anyway, then we have low impact. If we suggest that
someone do something and they ignore us, then we also have low impact.
We need to find places where suggesting that people (like distribution
and package maintainers) do certain things will cause them to do those
things, where they wouldn't have otherwise.

Since distribution and package maintainers are generally smart and
well-meaning people, they don't really need us to explain their jobs
to them. They already know how to serve their users when it comes to
changes that they can make on their own. So the main way specs provide
value is in situations where everyone benefits *if* they do the same
thing, and not otherwise. You sort of have to do it by consensus,
because if relevant parties can't/won't do what your spec tells them
to do, then it just won't happen.

> So it's a valid, relevant and I would argue
> important question.  My contention is that
> - *not* putting *a* notebook system into the spec is a mistake,
> - if one is going to go in, the ipython one is the sensible choice.

Obviously ipython in general and the notebook in specific are hugely
popular, and obviously any distro who cares in the slightest is going
to want to make their handling of both as good as possible!

Concretely, the only reason that I know for why the notebook wouldn't
be supported by any pylab-relevant distro is the technical
incompatibility between new ipythons and spyder. I assume that
notebooks will be supported by Python(x,y) iff that is fixed. This
seems like a low impact area for pylab to me, because I don't see how
putting something in a spec will make any difference. The way to make
an impact here is to go fix that code.

> Of course, the overall community may disagree and decide that they
> want pylab to be a spec that stays bounded by the 'shell + editor/ide'
> idea.

No-one is saying that, but we're talking about a consensus-based spec
whose goal is to unify our scattered community. We can't *rule out*
the editor/ide approach so long as there exist significant groups of
users and developers who use it. The ipython/spyder incompatibility
means that right now, putting ipython notebooks in the spec would rule
out spyder and Python(x,y). Better that pylab stay out of that then
try to pick sides.


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