[Edu-sig] forking vpython????

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Tue Nov 7 18:30:32 CET 2006

For the record:

 I have made my peace with Bruce Sherwood, the physics professor who 
administers the the vpython project.  Anyone listening in on 
visual-python list can see that our recent interactions are quite 
cordial- as are the private interaction we have recently had. He and 
Ruth Chabay are hard at work meeting a deadline for a second addition 
of  "Matters and Interaction"


which is seems to me is an innovative introductory physics textbook, and 
an innovative use of Python, via VPython, in education.

That being said:

The possibility that I will approach my contributions to vpython as a 
fork, rather "joining" the project seems strong.

a) I am frustrated with the pace of feedback to my efforts to 
contribute, and in fact there is no one currently committed to the 
project very qualified to evaluate those efforts.

b) I am upfront about my lack of C++ expertise, and shy from the 
responsibility of making contributions in an environment where the 
program is being used in a growing number of college curricula and where 
there is not the expertise to vet those contributions, however:
    - PyGeo exercises vpython extensively, and has developed a fairly 
extensive set of tests (of a kind).  I am satisfied to consider my 
vpython-fork code as production quality to the extent those tests are 
passed.  OTOH, those test are not designed explicitly  to test vpython, 
and I can understand a decision that they are inadequate for this purpose.

c) In going through the vpython code I am finding a lot of undocumented 
features, and a lot of easy extensions.  There are, for example, a 
number of functions on vectors and vector methods that are already 
written and used internally.  There are written and used internally 
because they are of the kind that are useful in 3d mathematics.  The 
boost.python  framework is there, allowing them to be exposed to Python 
trivially - one line of code.  The availability of these functions and 
methods would add performance to PyGeo.  Not sure I  want to have to 
debate the point with anyone as to why they have not been exposed, and 
whether they should be.  Would like to be in a "just do it" position.  
There are whole other structures - vector_arrays and scalar_arrays - 
that have been exposed to Python, but, are incomplete and therefore 
totally undocumented.  Completing and extending them, I am feeling now, 
is within my capabilities. I would like to get on with it outside of 
committee type discussion.

d) VPython_main is free to access my forked versions and make their own 
decisions on which changes I have made to incorporate, and which not.  I 
think I prefer not to be in that direct loop  or advocating for this 
change or that - as to VPython_main.

Wonder if anyone here has any thoughts on this.



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