[AstroPy] Proliferating py-astro-libs

Stefan Czesla stefan.czesla at hs.uni-hamburg.de
Fri Jun 10 05:57:52 EDT 2011

Dear all,

with great interest, I follow the discussion on how packet proliferation 
for astronomy
should take place. I would like to comment on some issues. Marshall 
kicked off the
discussion with a little provocation (not too critical btw.). I shall 
first say that PyAstronomy
(and the other mentioned projects, except pyastrolib, as I know), is not an
"attempt at building a core set of routines ported from the IDL 
library"; that is the smallest
part at least of PyA. Nonetheless, I agree with Marshall that something 
is wrong with
the development model currently pursued by "the community".

People will always tend to
implement there own small wavelength conversion routines etc. until they 
do not find a solution
that convinces them that it is worth to be installed and "learned". Not 
until they are convinced that
the latter is more convenient than doing it with a quick hack, we will 
see a successful project covering that.
I agree that currently no particular project has gained enough ground to 
take this role. Taro is quite right in
pointing out that there is no de facto standard yet in Python, and as 
the community has not gathered behind
one project, I do not know whether we can already speak of real 
community projects. Considering that Taro
probably did also not exactly find what was needed, the choice of
"rolling out [] own ports" seems quite natural.

Behind forming a beautiful spiral stands the question of what makes a 
successful open-source project - not
raised for the first time here. Although I do not know, I believe that 
documentation and in particular examples (i.e., simplicity and
usability) is a key to convince users to give it a try.  From the 
developer side, I assume that project leadership is crucial.
As long as the state is fuzzy like now, releasing "just another" project 
does at least not hurt anybody.

So - I am curious to see how this evolves,


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