On my morning commute today I realised that I am actually living in the future. I remember when I got involved in the PythonCard project 10 years ago one of the major questions on the mailing list was why we were building a GUI toolkit when the future was the web. It wasn’t true then but I think that it is now.
Why do I think we have moved now? It is in large part thanks to a book I have started reading called Python for Data Analysis. I have a copy of the book in ePub format and wanted to read it on my laptop. After some research instead of an e-reader I actually installed a web browser plugin called Readium to view the book.
I then wanted to set up an environment for working through the examples from the book. I created a virtualenv on my Ubuntu server based VM and installed the required modules. After a couple of pages I realised that I needed some sort of graphical environment for rendering graphs. Rather than move to a desktop virtual machine I decided to go for another option. I read the documents and fired up an IPython notebook with remote access. The only thing missing from my useful toolset is a VIM instance. I’m sure that can’t be far away.
All of which means that within a single browser (on separate tabs) I am both reading a book and interactively working through the Python code examples from it. I appreciate that there are back end processes involved especially with the IPython notebook. But here in 2012 it is possible to do some amazing things in the browser that I wouldn’t have imagined even a couple of years ago. Did I mention that I really like living in the future?