Copyright by Jeremy M. Jones, Noah Gift

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Chapter 2. IPython

One of Python’s strengths is its interactive interpreter, or shell. The shell provides a way to quickly test ideas, test features and interfaces of modules you are working with, and perform some one-off tasks for which you would otherwise have written a three line script. The way that we tend to code is by simultaneously running a text editor and a Python prompt (actually, an IPython prompt, but we’ll get to that in a moment), frequently interacting with them both, switching back and forth between shell and editor, and often pasting code from one to the other. This approach allows us to see immediate results from Python about the way it handles code and to quickly get the code in the text editor working the way we want it to.

At its heart, IPython is a bundle of interactive Python goodness. It is an amazing Python shell, far superior to the standard Python shell. It also provides the ability to create highly customized console-based command environments; it allows for easy inclusion of an interactive Python shell into any Python application; and it can even be used as a system shell, with some level of success. This chapter will focus on using IPython to improve your productivity on *nix-shell and Python-related tasks.

IPython also has an active, incredibly helpful community behind it. You can sign up for the mailing list at http://lists.ipython.scipy.org/mailman/listinfo/ipython-user. There is an excellent wiki at http://ipython.scipy.org/moin. And, as part of ...

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