[IPython-dev] cell magics

Thomas Kluyver takowl at gmail.com
Sat Feb 16 18:52:28 EST 2013

On 16 February 2013 23:19, Jason Grout <jason-sage at creativetrax.com> wrote:

> k=4
> %timeit(runs=k) 2+3

Give us some credit, that's already possible ;-)

%timeit -r $k 2+3

>  Using straight python instead of a custom string-based file format is
> something I learned from IPython when you guys made your config files
> actually just python files.  I find it somewhat ironic now that you are
> arguing against making something more pythonic, and implicitly rejecting
> the programmability and power of having a pythonic syntax :).

For what it's worth, with hindsight, I'm not sure executable config files
were such a great idea:

- There's lots of reasons that we want config that we can modify from the
program - to allow GUI configuration dialogs, or changing config from with
something like the %config magic. There's no really good way to do that
with an executable config file. If we write the new values into the file,
we could be blowing away whatever logic the user already has there. If we
store them separately, then sooner or later, the user finds a config value
that doesn't appear to work, because it's overridden by a value somewhere

- More generally, executable config files force you to have a full
implementation of the language to load them. That's not such a problem for
us, but I noticed with the xdg-user-dirs mechanism, you can only reliably
access the information by running sh in a subprocess. Config in INI, JSON
or even sqlite (like Firefox) can be accessed with a simple library.

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