[Edu-sig] The fate of vpython

Arthur Siegel ajsiegel at optonline.net
Mon Oct 9 23:40:23 CEST 2006

On Mon, 2006-10-09 at 13:59 -0700, Dethe Elza wrote:
> On 9-Oct-06, at 11:15 AM, Arthur Siegel wrote:
> >> My other hope for VPython would be to build it on a more capable 3D
> >> system, such as Ogre or Panda3D (Mike Fletcher keeps a large list of
> >> such systems: http://www.vrplumber.com/py3d.py).  In this scenario,
> >> VPython would be an easier entry point into one of these more capable
> >> (and correspondingly more complex) systems, an Ogre-lite so to
> >> speak.
> >
> > Here I finally get to strongly disagree.  Vpython IMO should remain
> > stand-alone, light-weight.  Please, please.
> VPython is only lightweight conceptually.  Boost and C++ are not  
> lightweight, in my book.  Again, I could only see it going this way  
> if there was a library that was easy to install (so that VPython  
> became easier to install than it is now), and that doesn't exist  
> right now (not for the three main platforms).

Its challenging to *build*. On a Windows machine and on a Debian based
system - given a suitable binary distro - it *installs* like anything
else. Like butter. So far, we have maintainer or 2 incovenienced by the
build complexity, and nobody else - at least necessarily.

Python itself is out-of-business if you had to *build* it on Windows to
use it.

In the last day or two I have learned to build it on Linux, from scratch
- which means building bjam, building boost given multiple existing
Python versions on the machine, building Numeric, and building VPython.
I am also fairly confident I will solve the numpy compatibility issue in
due course.

I know you are a devoted Mac guy, and I know nothing about native Mac.
But it seems to me that were there the relatively minimal code necessary
- which someone has recently committed to undertake - to create the
drawing context for VPython on native Mac, it could be packaged and
installed like any other native app there as well.

So it seems to me you are overstating a case, by a long-shot - probably
seeing the situation from a Mac-centric point of view.

But I have this crazy idea - and its crazy only in execution, not in
concept - that a vpython *as part of the Python distribution* would
change the landscape some.  And I understand that the current dependency
chain makes that an impossibility.

One of my (not very realistic) goals is to see if I can begin to
understand some way to bring vpython into the fold of a normal Python
distribution build process.  Other then that, and assuming the Mac
matter eventually gets solved, I would probably have no reason to rock
the vpython boat much at all.  

I'm looking for a good fight ;) so would love to have vpython not
seriously considered for bad reasons, rather then for good ones.

So to me anything that doesn't move in the direction of making vpython
buildable with Python, in the normal course, is not of much use or

It ain't really broke.


> All this is just hot air, since I really have nothing to do with how  
> VPython goes.
> > I also see it as a possible entry point to things like Ogre and  
> > Panda3d,
> > but that is on a cognitive level, not a technical level.
> One interesting way would be to have a pure-python (on top of  
> PyOpenGL?) VPython, and a higher performance VPython (maybe on Ogre),  
> similarly to how there are now ElementTree (pure-python XML),  
> cElementTree (higher performance), and lxml (same API as ElementTree,  
> but really a portal to all the XML processing power of libxml and  
> libxslt, i.e., much more powerful *and* higher performance).
> > As a component to something either high-level and more heavyweight, or
> > more low-level, I don't see a purpose to it. I doubt it does anything
> > that Panda3d can't already do, and certainly nothing OpenGL can't
> > already do.
> No comparison with OpenGL, since VPython (and all the 3D libraries I  
> know of) already build on OpenGL. They add scenegraphs and higher- 
> level APIs, but it's all OpenGL underneath.
> My dream would be to have a VPython that is as easy to learn as it is  
> now, easier to install than it is now, and capable of growing with  
> you for awhile.
> But right now that's just a dream.
> --Dethe
> Lao-Tse  thought XML was verbose but  that did not matter because  
> computers  will someday learn from poets. --unknown, via Jason Cunliffe

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