Everything good about Python except GUI IDE?

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Sun Feb 28 19:14:54 EST 2016

On Mon, 29 Feb 2016 12:51 am, Marko Rauhamaa wrote:

> Rustom Mody <rustompmody at gmail.com>:
>> whereas in fact every significant GUI embeds text (possibly recursively)
>> eg TI inside GUI -- think of text inside gimp
>> GUI inside TI -- think of Word embedding other doc types including
>> pictures Which can be recursive -- WOrd embeds a picture embeds text
> Sigh, still nobody has mentioned an exemplary GUI application.

Possibly because of the poor state of GUI application development, I don't
think there are many. There are many which are *acceptable*, to some lesser
or greater degree, but none that come to mind which make me go "wow, that's

Or perhaps I'm just jaded after 30+ years of using GUI apps and can only see
the bugs and not the features any more.

> An anecdote: Some weeks back my son and I were struggling to get the
> right kind of graph out of Excel. After four hours of Google, Youtube,
> trial and error, we gave up, took out a pad of millimeter paper and some
> colored pencils. The whole job took my son an hour and the end result
> looked great. He snapped a picture and sent it to the teacher by email.

I feel that the state of the art of graphing tools is horrid. It's
acceptable for business-style graphs (e.g. barcharts and pie charts) with
just a handful of items but rapidly goes downhill from there. There is too
much emphasis on making the graph look "fancy" at the expense of
communicating information (3D pie charts, really?). But for graphing
mathematical functions, it's just horrible. A good graphing application

- by default show the zero point on the Y-axis;
- by default scale the Y-axis so as to fit the entire graph;
- label the axes in such a way that they are readable;
- be as easy as saying "graph f(x) for x between a and b" 
  and have the graphing application pick sensible defaults;
- allow easy discovery of features (which usually means a graphical
  interface -- e.g. click on the axis and be presented with options
  to modify that axis).

> A 2nd anecdote. I occasionally need to make technical presentations to
> an audience. Do I use PowerPoint or Impress? No, I use emacs, M-x
> picture-mode and raw HTML (without styles). I get to concentrate on
> producing effective communication, and nobody has complained about the
> lack of imagery or funny animation.

You don't know if they haven't complained because they don't miss them, or
haven't complained because they fell asleep and are too embarrassed to
complain "your presentation put me to sleep due to the lack of dancing



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