[Python-ideas] Looking for input to help with the pip situation

Nick Coghlan ncoghlan at gmail.com
Sun Nov 12 18:25:27 EST 2017

On 13 November 2017 at 04:51, Antoine Pitrou <solipsis at pitrou.net> wrote:
> On Sun, 12 Nov 2017 23:18:26 +1000
> Nick Coghlan <ncoghlan at gmail.com> wrote:
>> We haven't forgotten our early years - we've just spent years (both
>> individually and collectively) working on the problem of helping
>> people get started with software development, and thus have a very
>> good idea as to what *doesn't* work, as well as what *does* work.
>> The latter list is currently fairly short:
>> * having a friend or colleague walk them through it
>> * "Install Parties", like those Django Girls runs (i.e. running a
>> pre-tutorial event, specifically focused on getting a working
>> environment set up)
>> * highly prescriptive learning environments, whether online ones (like
>> Grok Learning, trinket.io, PythonAnywhere, etc), or locally installed
>> ones (like PyCharm Educational Edition, the Anaconda distribution,
>> etc)
> Not wanting to nitpick, but I don't think the Anaconda distribution is
> "highly prescriptive".  It's a software distribution with scientific
> computing as its main focus, but perfectly usable for ordinary Python
> programming.  It's not more prescriptive than Debian, which by its
> philosophy is directed primarily towards sysadmin crowds but also used
> by some people on their personal desktops.

I meant prescriptive in the sense of "Here's how to get the binaries
and manage upgrades". The non-prescriptive alternative is "Use any
Python binary you like, and we'll try to adjust to that". The latter
can potentially work given sufficiently experienced instructors (or a
suitable mix of instructors with knowledge of different platforms),
but it's not easy.

(The downside of this being that prescriptive environments for
particular workshops is one of the most common ways for beginners to
end up with multiple versions of Python installed: whatever they found
on their own, plus the version their workshop instructors told them to

> Also, you can create custom Anaconda-like distributions to provide the
> desired environment to your students in an executable installer (*).
> I'm not sure how usable that option is, but it definitely exists, is
> open source and cross-platform.
> (*) https://github.com/conda/constructor

Oh, cool - I didn't know about that. Yeah, that could definitely
provide an interesting middle ground between "Choose your own
adventure" and "Here's the entire scientific Python stack".


Nick Coghlan   |   ncoghlan at gmail.com   |   Brisbane, Australia

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