[AstroPy] Proliferating py-astro-libs

Wolfgang Kerzendorf wkerzendorf at googlemail.com
Thu Jun 9 21:57:42 EDT 2011

I very much agree with what marshall said. I am really in favour of a 
modular design rather than these monolithic packages. For example: I use 
pyfits for my fits files, it can't do coordinate transformation and it 
can't do light curve fitting, but it's fast and good at what it does. In 
addition, it puts the data in a format that other packages understand: 
numpy arrays. The same with ephem, pywcs, aplpy, atpy and others (I'm 
sorry if I didn't mention your package). I think we need to build an 
ecosystem of these small tools, that are bug free and easy to use before 
going to big packages (Sage is a good example of this working). One big 
point is that they need to be interoperable.
I'm going to reiterate what I said on this topic before: we need 
standard base classes so that if someone writes a new tool it can easily 
interact with other tools.
Andy Casey and me are currently working on a base class for 1d spectra. 
It's very easy to use and very simple. We will release it into the wild 
in a month or two and hope that this will bring out the discussions 
about APIs for base classes.


On 10/06/11 8:25 AM, Marshall Perrin wrote:
> On Jun 9, 2011, at 12:54 PM, Stefan Czesla wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> we would like to let you know about our recent release of a -- 
>> hopefully --
>> useful contribution to Python's astronomy community, namely, our 
>> PyAstronomy
>> package (yes, there have been more inspired names...). It consists of
>> several subpackages providing the following functionality:
>> - funcFit: An XSPEC like fitting interface for scipy and pymc
>> - modelSuite: Currently, models for transit light-curves and Rossiter 
>> McLaughlin effect
>>               (calculating and fitting)
>> - pyTiming: A collection of periodograms
>> - pyasl: Our tiny contribution to porting the IDL AstroLib to Python.
> Hopefully without sounding too critical of you in particular, I'm 
> going to ask: do we as a community really need /yet another/ separate 
> python library for astronomy and yet another attempt at building a 
> core set of routines ported from the IDL library?
> There is now astrolib (https://trac6.assembla.com/astrolib ), also 
> pyAstroLib (which appears to be something entirely different than 
> astrolib? http://sourceforge.net/projects/pyastrolib/develop), 
> astropysics (http://packages.python.org/Astropysics/) , now your 
> pyAstronomy, and probably more.  It looks like PyAstronomy contains 
> wavelength conversions (already implemented in pyastrolib and 
> astropysics) and coordinate conversions and precession (already in 
> coords, astropysics, pySLALIB, & more).
> I'm going to be provocative here: /As a community, we are doing 
> something wrong /if everyone wants to start their own new module 
> rather than contributing to a common shared open-source core.  We are 
> clearly doing something wrong if people repeatedly implement the same 
> basic functions rather than building on what's already there. What do 
> we need to do differently? How can we make it easier to use a shared 
> repository and shared namespace for all this?
> I'm not arguing that somehow there has to be one true library that 
> everyone uses, one ring to rule them all. But wouldn't it be better if 
> there were a more straightforward choice that community members could 
> easily contribute to, leading to a more coherent overall system? I 
> would assert that astrolib is probably the best candidate for growing 
> into this, but I don't really care which one the community rallies 
> behind. I'd just like to have some sense that we might actually be 
> converging towards an IDL-like unified core rather than just 
> proliferating little packages.   Currently we're just forming dwarf 
> galaxies; how can we get them to accrete together to build a grand 
> design spiral?
>  - Marshall
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