IPython founder details road map for interactive computing platform

Developer Fernando Perez says JavaScript and multi-user capabilities will be highlighted in coming upgrades of data analysis/visualization project

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InfoWorld: I don't know if you want to talk about 4.0, 5.0, whatever?

Perez: We know that the multi-user server is going to be a very complex piece of work and we expect 3.0 to be just an early release. And 4.0 is going to be continuing to improve on that.

InfoWorld: When is 4.0 due?

Perez: Probably early 2015.

InfoWorld: What's the main link between IPython and big data?

Perez: There are several. On one hand, this interactive analysis environment is already useful to work on data, even if it's small data on a laptop. The fact that it runs through the Web browser is very important because it means that the actual processing engine can be running on a remote node. This morning we saw a talk about how to do machine learning using IPython on a cluster, which allows you to put the IPython engine somewhere the big machines or the cloud data storage is, then interact with it from a laptop through a Web browser. Finally, IPython actually has a subcomponent of the project called IPython.parallel that allows you to do the same kind of interactive fluid experience, but not just with one node but with "n" nodes, with an entire parallel cluster. This morning's talk about scikit-learn and IPython.parallel was demonstrating precisely how to do interactive parallel machine learning in the cloud.

InfoWorld: What are the commercial or enterprise business opportunities for IPython?

Perez: We're seeing a number of adopters, and in this conference we've learned of a few more. There's some we knew about; a company in Austin called Enthought has been a longtime supporter of the project, and it ships a [product] called Canopy that includes IPython. Another company -- also in Austin -- called Continuum Analytics, also provides an online version of the notebook called Wakari. We're seeing a number of companies using it even in public-facing services. We've also had conversations with many companies who have come and told us, "Oh, inside of our data analytics group, it's IPython everywhere."

InfoWorld: Are you looking to monetize IPython personally or form a company around it? Or are you leaving it as an academic project?

Perez: Currently it's being operated as an academic project and we have funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. We also have funding from the Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation. But we've also received last year a donation from Microsoft Research that has helped us tremendously. And we are actively looking to partner with industries in what we think can be a very productive model for funding an open source academic effort that has great impact in industry.

InfoWorld: Is Microsoft planning to use IPython in any of its products?

Perez: They ship IPython as part of the Python tools for Visual Studio plug-in.

Editor's note: Fernando Perez leads the IPython project as a collaborative effort. Other participants in its development include Brian Granger, physics professor at Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo), and senior developer Benjamin Ragan-Kelley, of the University of California, Berkeley.

This story, "IPython founder details road map for interactive computing platform," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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