One of Python’s most useful features is its interactive interpreter. This system allows very fast testing of ideas without the overhead of creating test files as is typical in most programming languages. However, the interpreter supplied with the standard Python distribution is somewhat limited for extended interactive use.
The goal of IPython is to create a comprehensive environment for interactive and exploratory computing. To support this goal, IPython has two main components:
* An enhanced interactive Python shell.
* An architecture for interactive parallel computing.
All of IPython is open source (released under the revised BSD license).
IPython’s interactive shell (ipython), has the following goals, amongst others:
1. Provide an interactive shell superior to Python’s default. IPython has many features for object introspection, system shell access, and its own special command system for adding functionality when working interactively. It tries to be a very efficient environment both for Python code development and for exploration of problems using Python objects (in situations like data analysis).
2. Serve as an embeddable, ready to use interpreter for your own programs. IPython can be started with a single call from inside another program, providing access to the current namespace. This can be very useful both for debugging purposes and for situations where a blend of batch-processing and interactive exploration are needed. New in this version of IPython is a reusable wxPython based IPython widget.
3. Offer a flexible framework which can be used as the base environment for other systems with Python as the underlying language. Specifically scientific environments like Mathematica, IDL and Matlab inspired its design, but similar ideas can be useful in many fields.
4. Allow interactive testing of threaded graphical toolkits. IPython has support for interactive, non-blocking control of GTK, Qt and WX applications via special threading flags. The normal Python shell can only do this for Tkinter applications.