[IPython-dev] Should we disable autocall by default from now on?

MinRK benjaminrk at gmail.com
Wed Nov 30 15:12:37 EST 2011

On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:56, Fernando Perez <fperez.net at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:45 AM, Aaron Meurer <asmeurer at gmail.com> wrote:
> > So personally, I don't think autocall is friendly to beginner users
> > even as it is now, for the simple reason that it changes the syntax of
> > Python.
> Yes, there seems to be consensus that autocall should be an expert
> tool, and therefore it would be OK to make the default be off.  The
> defaults should be chosen to make ipython as beginner-friendly as
> possible (while still being more useful than the >>> shell).  Experts
> are expected to tweak their config to suit their personal preferences
> (e.g., I'll always keep autocall on in 'smart' mode).

I think it's exactly the opposite.  autocall is very much a beginner tool,
for users who have not yet
committed Python's syntax to memory.  When they make simple typos, autocall
helps remind them by saying,
"I know what you meant, but here's how you should do it in the future".

Of course, the down side is that it is the same beginner users who are most
by the weird behavior with traits/etc, so it's a hard decision.  In my
experience in the classroom, I would say
that the helping-hand given by autocall is quite valuable, and utterly
pointless if it is not on by default, because
expecting brand new users to configure IPython is a non-starter.

Perhaps I underestimate the popularity of tools that suffer from this
behavior among beginning users.

Having this conversation on ipython-dev may not be the most illustrative,
as there aren't a lot of non-expert users here.  Not that it's the wrong
place, but we shouldn't interpret opinions here as being those of our user
base in general.


> Cheers,
> f
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