[Numpy-discussion] Purchasing Documentation

Travis Oliphant oliphant at ee.byu.edu
Mon Oct 3 17:27:02 EDT 2005

Tim Churches wrote:

>Eric Firing wrote:
>>>OK, thanks. In the absence of documentation, I just looked for an MA
>>>subdirectory, couldn't find one and assumed that it wasn't (yet)
>>Documentation is coming along, but being made available in an unusual
>>way: http://www.tramy.us/
>copy of the documentation. Most likely, one copy of the documentation
>will be purchased to be shared between several (or many) users in a
>workgroup within an institution. 

Note that it is expressly against the agreement for one copy to be 
shared between multiple users at the same institution.  I hope this is 
clear....  Of course you can let somebody else look at it a couple of 
times, but if they will use it regularly, they need to get their own 

Prices are always a matter of supply and demand.   The whole point of 
the system is to allow the price system to help coordinate what people 
think is valuable and what developers spend time doing.    What you see 
currently is the maximum price (and time) I could possibly set as per 
the agreement with Trelgol.   These things can always come down, 
however, as time proceeds, and the market responds.

Now, obviously the cost of the documentation includes something of the 
cost of producing the actual code.  Of course, you may disagree, but I 
did choose the numbers based on a little bit of market research.   I 
don't think that 7000 copies of the documentation or 7 years is all that 
ridiculous given that there have been over 12000 downloads of the 
Numeric 24.0b2 source code since April and Numeric has been in stable 
use for nearly 10 years.

If scipy does it's job correctly,  then a user-base needing 
documentation of 7000 is rather low-balling it I would say.   I want 
scipy to surpass the number of users of Numeric.     I'm trying to make 
scipy core so that everybody can convert to it, eventually.  The old 
Numeric manual still provides documentation, and the source is still 
available.  I think you are still getting a great deal.   Unless there 
is another majore re-write, the documentation will be updated as it goes 
(and you get the updates).  

>I would say that perhaps $30k or one year (after completion of the
>documentation) would be more reasonable criteria for making the
>documentation freely available (but then I am not writing it).
Well, given the time I had to spend on this, that is quite a bit less 
than the market will bear for my services elsewhere.  I suppose if I 
were rich, I could donate more of my time.  But, I'm not....

I'm really not trying to make people upset.  I'm really a huge fan of 
open information, and would love to see the documentation completely 
free.  It's just that I cannot afford to create it for nothing.   I have 
lots of demands on my time.  Spending it doing scientific python has to 
be justified, somehow.   I did not start the creation of a hybrid 
Numeric / numarray with the hope of making any money.  I started it 
because there was a need. I thought I would get more help with its 
implementation.  But, given the reality of people's scarce time (they 
need to make money...), nobody was able to help me.  Out of this, the 
documentation idea was born to try and help fund development of scipy 

I hope people can understand that the reality of scarcity dictates that 
we coordinate efforts through some mechanism.  The price mechanism has 
been the most succesful large-scale mechanism yet developed.

I am interested in feedback.  If  you don't buy the book because you 
think I'm asking too much money, then let me know, as Tim has done.  You 
can email me directly, as well.

Best regards,


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