[Python-ideas] install pip packages from Python prompt

Erik Bray erik.m.bray at gmail.com
Sat Nov 4 06:07:23 EDT 2017

On Nov 4, 2017 08:31, "Stephen J. Turnbull" <
turnbull.stephen.fw at u.tsukuba.ac.jp> wrote:

Erik Bray writes:

 > Nope.  I totally get that they don’t know what a shell or command prompt
 > is.  THEY. NEED. TO. LEARN.

Just to be clear I did not write this. Someone replying to me did.

I'm going to go over all the different proposals in this thread and see if
I can synthesize a list of options. I think, even if it's not a solution
that winds up in the stdlib, it would be good to have some user stories
about how package installation from within an interactive prompt might work
(even if not from the standard REPL, which it should be noted has had small
improvements made to it over the years).

I also have my doubts about whether this *shouldn't* be possible. I mean,
to a lot of beginners starting out the basic REPL *is* Python. They're so
new to the scene they don't even know what IPython or Jupyter is or why
they might want that. They aren't experienced enough to even know what
they're missing out on. In classrooms we can resolve that easily by
pointing our students to whatever tools we think will work best for them,
but not everyone has that privilege.


I don't want to take a position on the proposal, and I agree that we
should *strongly* encourage everyone to learn.  But "THEY. NEED. TO.
LEARN." is not obvious to me.

Anecdotally, my students are doing remarkably (to me, as a teacher)
complex modeling with graphical interfaces to statistical and
simulation packages (SPSS/AMOS, Artisoc, respectively), and collection
of large textual databases from SNS with cargo-culted Python programs.
For the past twenty years teaching social scientists, these accidental
barriers (as Fred Brooks would have called them) have dropped
dramatically, to the point where it's possible to do superficially
good-looking (= complex) but entirely meaningless :-/ empirical
research.  (In some ways I think this lowered cost has been horribly
detrimental to my work as an educator in applied social science. ;-)

The point being that "user-friendly" UI in many fields where (fairly)
advanced computing is used is more than keeping up with the perceived
needs of most computer users, while the essential (in the sense of
Brooks) non-computing modeling difficulties of their jobs remain.

By "perceived" I mean I want my students using TeX, but it's hard to
force them when all their professors (except me and a couple
mathematicians) use Word (speaking of irreproducible results).  It's
good enough for government work, and that's in fact where many of them
end up (and the great majority are either in government or in
equivalent corporate bureaucrat positions).  Yes, I meant the
deprecatory connotations of "perceived", but realistically, I admit
that maybe they *don't* *need* the more polished tech that I could
teach them.

I remember when I first started out teaching Software Carpentry I made the
embarrassing mistake (coming from Physics) of assuming that LaTex is
de-facto in most other academic fields :)

 > Hiding it is not a good idea for anyone.

Agreed.  Command lines and REPLs teach humility, to me as well as my
students. :-)


Associate Professor              Division of Policy and Planning Science
http://turnbull/sk.tsukuba.ac.jp/     Faculty of Systems and Information
Email: turnbull at sk.tsukuba.ac.jp                   University of Tsukuba
Tel: 029-853-5175                 Tennodai 1-1-1, Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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