i asked two other friends of mine, [ ... ], for recommendations about model code and about their work environment. their feedback was extremely helpful and i thought you'd be interested to hear the opinions of other good programmers. i would also love to hear your thoughts on these (extracted and scattered) comments:

Re: model code:


the nipy folks have actually done some nice things in their package

  • rest/sphinx for documentation
  • unit testing
  • traits

You should make your code based on pynifti. Also look at the code for pymvpa, pyepl and rpy2.

In terms of structuring code, nipy for code organization and pymvpa for architecture. Especially in your case, where you might want the ability for users to compare multiple algorithms easily.


I definitely agree with Satra. I think in general, you'll want to:

  1. Follow Python coding conventions ( http://www.python.org/doc/essays/styleguide.html)
  2. Use some sort of documentation generation system (epydoc is also very popular: http://epydoc.sourceforge.net/)
  3. Have some unit testing, and an easy way to run regression tests whenever you make changes (at least on the critical code)

Unfortunately, Python 3 may take a while to mature, and get support from scipy, numpy, matplotlib, etc., so you'll probably want to target Python 2.x, but you should probably test the 2to3 tool once in a while to make sure that your code can be easily converted (http://docs.python.org/library/2to3.html). The projects that Satra listed are all really good, and I would add that the python standard modules are also a good place to dig around (somewhere in python -c "import sys;print sys.path").

Re: programming environment:


I would go with 2.6 if the other libraries have updated. I'm still on 2.5 for now and keep a keen eye towards minimizing the usage of the print statement (probably the most important difference that could break code)!!

@: it might not be time yet to do work in python 3 as tyler mentions, but i spent the evening reading cython documentation. if i understand what i've read so far, since it is compatible with python 3 as well as Python 2.3 or later, and works with numpy, this might be a cool way of coding and compiling an application that works in both python worlds!

...the beauty of the cython route is that you can code in either 2.x or 3.x (for the cython statements), compile, and i believe you can run it with either 2.x or 3.x! if i've got it right, you code your 3.x in cython and you've got a cool transition. what do you think?

otherwise, the recommended is as you say. code in 2.6, use 2to3, and only modify the 2.6 code until you stop maintaining 2.x, which seems like a pain to me.


I'm going to rewrite in cython only when I need speed as opposed to writing everything in cython. Unfortunately, thats the current problem with python. Python 3 as you know broke several things to improve Python. I wouldn't worry about doing 2to3 for now. Most establishments haven't even moved from 2.4. When distributing code, one has to partly care about the largest userbase and at these large hospitals, things take a while to change. For me my target is to disseminate to the entire FSL/SPM userbase. Can't be too cutting edge for that.

I've looked at sagemath. Although neat, too symbolic for my current needs.


I agree with everything Satra said.

Cython doesn't seem like the right way to go.

Regarding 2to3, all I'm suggesting there is that you periodically try running it on your code to see what warnings it gives. Basically, in theory 2to3 can automatically convert most of your code, but will sometimes find something quirky that can't be automatically converted, so it might be nice to know about that. However, like Satra says, it will be a long time before 3 has a significant userbase, so it should be the least of your worries right now.

Sagemath is very cool, and I think that underneath it's running fairly stock python + libraries, but I think you're probably better off developing and testing with the most vanilla possible python 2.x distribution. The enthought distro should be fine though. Arthur has some experience with Sage, so you may want to ask him about it.


so you're going to write in code that can be run by 2.4 or 2.5? and you'll 2to3 later when more people use 3?


satra and tyler -- what dependencies would you consider reasonable: numpy, matplotlib, pynifti, traits, cython, and sphinx?

satra: Yes. Currently I'm writing it for 2.5. I would add scipy and pyR to the list, but you can add modules easily later on. I would definitely recommend ipython as your python console.

Re: ide vs. ipython:


ipython has parallel computing options and I can use it interactively with the -pylab switch. That was sufficiently motivating for me. But ide's are a personal choice, so going with whatever you find most convenient. I've also used SPE and komodo and I switch between all of these according to various irrational whims. ...Emacs of course!! I haven't required an extensive debugger yet. So ipython's minimal interface has been sufficient.


I use vim + ipython. My typical work cycle is to open a file that I'm working on in vim, and open ipython in the same directory. I'll make edits, and the type "%run <filename> [args]" in ipython whenever I'm ready to test the code. That brings the whole file into ipython's namespace, and I can generally debug sufficiently that way. Sometimes I'll force a single breakpoint in my code by putting "raise" on a line by itself, and doing %run again. I can then inspect the state by doing a %whos, and printing variables. If you need more in depth debugging, you can do "%pdb on" in ipython to cause pdb to be invoked automatically whenever your code raises an exception (then you can step through the code, etc.). Ipython can also more tightly interact with vim and emacs by allowing you to pipe between (for example) an emacs buffer and ipython (and vice versa), but I've never felt the need to do that, and I couldn't get it to work exactly right when I tried (google for emacs ipython integration maybe). I played for a few minutes with WingIDE, and it seemed nice, but I never put in the time that would be required to be proficient with it, so I'm happy hacking away with the ubiquitous vi. Some things that you might get with a full fledged IDE that aren't as easy to get with emacs + ipython are: code completion, code refactoring support, multi-file search and replace, etc.. As Satra said though, choice of development environment is personal decision, and I can't say what's right for you.

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