[IPython-dev] Feature and scope creep in IPython

Thomas Kluyver takowl at gmail.com
Wed Jan 16 07:47:34 EST 2013

On 15 January 2013 21:48, Nicholas Bollweg <nick.bollweg at gmail.com> wrote:

> This is a very good point, but since i'm on a kick: what is the means for
> determining quality? For the kernel? For the notebook? For the various
> frontends? Does every committer weigh in on every decision? What is the
> role of non-committers? "Plebiscite" style decision making would probably
> be crippling. If a project can start determining what these heuristics are,
> maybe the data from its various feeds can help.

At least one core developer has to agree with it, to do the merge.
Generally, the larger the change, the more people we'll want to confirm it
- but nothing requires the input of the whole core team. We also have a
rough guideline that if core contributors disagree about something, we're
probably missing something important, and we should spend more time
thinking about it.

We do, of course, listen to non-committers, but the core developers
sometimes decide that a particular feature would be best developed outside
of IPython. There are various technical mechanisms to allow separate pieces
of code to work with IPython. I think this is a key part of what Brian was
talking about - we can't and shouldn't maintain code for everything anyone
wants to do in IPython.

> I liked some of the discussion on your blog post (I think) by the SymPy
> guys: their users "only use 20%" of SymPy... but every user has a different
> 20%! What is the broader community's usage of IPython like? Has this been
> captured before?

Yes, I have some concerns around this as well - I suspect that many of our
features are useful to a large minority of our users, and I don't think
that's necessarily a problem. Where the user-threshold should be, I'm not

We did do a simple survey in 2011
(http://ipython.org/usersurvey2011.html). We hope to repeat it this
year with a bit more detail.

Best wishes,
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