[IPython-dev] ipython in a background thread

Zachary Pincus zachary.pincus at yale.edu
Fri Apr 29 13:03:19 EDT 2011

Hello all,

I find that ipython, specifically ipython running in a good terminal (as opposed to embedded in a GUI window), provides a really great interface (e.g. in my case, a microscope and camera hardware). Given this use, it's been important to also have a GUI thread running so I can throw acquired images rapidly up onto a GL canvas or something. For a while, I've used a hacked-up pyglet runloop that would work in a background thread, and set up a simple message-passing system.

This got quite kluged quite fast though, and it turns out this approach won't work at all with cocoa GUIs on OS X, which seem to require running on thread-0 (a pity). I know people on this list have looked and thought about these issues a lot, so I'd be curious what seems like the best approach in general? (There used to be some code in IPython for doing this with various window toolkits, but I don't see that in the 0.10.2's codebase anymore...)

- I could run the GUI from thread-0 and try message-passing to IPython on another thread. Does this work well at all, or is it a huge kluge to get all the readline etc. features working right?

- I could run the GUI in a separate process entirely, which would force a much cleaner API, but I'm not sure if pumping images at video-rate could be done cleanly. Maybe with shared memmapped arrays? (I've seen some recipes for this sort of thing on the numpy list lately.)

- Any other possibilities or thoughts?

Thanks a lot,

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