[IPython-dev] Some new cell types for describing data analyses in IPy. Notebook

Thomas Kluyver takowl at gmail.com
Fri Jul 5 17:09:15 EDT 2013

On 5 July 2013 20:28, Gabriel Becker <gmbecker at ucdavis.edu> wrote:

> Scientists and data analysts are already doing branching in their work,
> but they don't have any good tools to record or describe it that way. So
> they comment out large blocks of code in linear scripts, or they save old
> attempts and alternate approaches in separate files, or they (hopefully
> not) simply delete or overwrite old parameter configurations with new ones
> when they decide the old one wasn't right. Not because they think these are
> good ideas, but because its all they have available and they are
> scientists/analysts.

This is a fascinating idea, and I look forward to seeing it developed. I
can certainly think of cases where I could use it in my own work, although
I don't think I'd ever preserve every dead end I tried in alternative cells
- it would be far too much clutter.

That said, I don't think this is something we should be building into
IPython at the moment. As I see it, the notebook that we build is actually
quite a low-level tool, like a word processor for code. By which I mean
that we give users a blank canvas to create their own work, rather than a
consciously designed framework into which to slot their code. For instance,
while it's clearly sensible to show cells in execution order, we do nothing
to enforce that.

But I do think that we should try our best to support other people who want
to build higher-level tools, like your branching code system, on top of
IPython. I confess I haven't read through what everyone's said above, but I
hope we can find a good way for you to do that and have it work as well as
possible with the kernel, the notebook format, nbviewer, etc.

Best wishes,
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