IPython 0.11, the new killer app


IPython 0.11 has just been released. It's amazing how many new features are now available in this Python "comprehensive environment for interactive and exploratory computing".

Installing on Mac OS X Lion

The installation of IPython is simple if you use easy_install. However, to benefit from the new qtconsole, you'll need to have a working Qt framework and install either PyQt4 or PySide, as documented here. Only the latter worked for me(a), at the moment. Of course, we also need to install the Qt SDK. This is quite straightforward as OS X packages are available from Nokia download page. Be aware that the compilation is rather long (about 30' on my Macbook air 2010).

Here is how I did for the Python part:

$ sudo easy_install readline
$ sudo easy_install ipython
$ sudo easy_install pyzmq

Instead of building PySide myself, I donwloaded a package from here (pyside-1.0.5-qt47-py27apple.pkg). We need to tell OS X where to find the Qt framework. I added the following line in my .profile:

export DYLD_FRAMEWORK_PATH="/Developer/QtSDK/Desktop/Qt/473/gcc/lib:${DYLD_FRAMEWORK_PATH}"


Then, we can test that everything is working by trying

$ ipython qtconsole --pylab=inline

What's new in IPython 0.11

No need to tell a long story because everything has been nicely summarized on Chris Fonnesbeck's nice post: Innovations in iPython. However, just for the record, here are some of the new features:

  • There is now a Qt console that allows to display Matplotlib figures directly inside the console, like in Mathematica, with copy/paste and export option. Also, the whole content of the console can be exported as HTML or XML and diplayed directly in the browser.
  • Multiple instances of Python can be instantiated by IPython depending on the number of available cores on the machine.
  • There's a %run magic command taht allows to run any python script and load all of its data directly into the interactive namespace. Take a look at the example provided by Chris Fonnesbeck: He is actually loading a Python script saved as a gist on Github.
  • IPython is now able to strip input prompts (>>> and ...).
  • And a lot more ...

I didn't check whether the Emacs package was updated or not (I don't think so), but I know there's a VIM plugin now. I have to check how my old ipython.el is working with this new version of IPython.


(a) To build PyQt4, I grabbed the PyQt-mac-gpl-4.8.4.tar.gz archive from Riverbank download page. We also need SIP.

Then, I used the following commands:

For SIP,

$ python configure.py -d /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/
$ make 
$ sudo make install

For PyQt,

$ python configure.py -k -d /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/
$ make 
$ sudo make install

I got a lot of warnings sayung that Lion was currently not supported during the compilation.


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