[vtk-developers] Python packages: status, suggestions.

Prabhu Ramachandran prabhu at aero.iitm.ernet.in
Fri Nov 2 02:04:41 EST 2001


Here is an update on what is the current status and the problems with
the current code and a proposed solution.

  Currently, the Python packages are all in a seprate vtk sub
  directory and it is possible to import parts of VTK via various
  modules inside the vtk sub directory.  Further, to import all of VTK
  all that is needed is

  import vtk
  a = vtk.vtkFoo()

  Parts of VTK are accessible via

  import vtk.common
  a = vtk.common.vtkFoo()

  Note: The issue with loading modules that aren't installed has been
  resolved in a recent CVS commit.  The following will (correctly)
  raise an exception if you dont have parallel compiled.

  >>> import vtk
  >>> import vtk.parallel
  Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
    File "/skratch/prabhu/vtk/cvs/VTK/Wrapping/Python/vtk/parallel.py", line 7, in ?
      from libvtkParallelPython import *
  ImportError: No module named libvtkParallelPython

However there are problems with the current code.

  When vtk is imported it 'silently' imports *all* the VTK classes
  into its namespace.  So although vtk.common will give you just the
  common classes vtk itself will have *everything*.  This is clearly
  not ideal.  This is the biggest problem with the current approach.

Splitting vtk into smaller packages is definitely nice since it
becomes possible to access parts of VTK so it might not be a good idea
to abandon the package approach.  I proposed changing the vtk
directory name and doing something like this:

  import vtkpkg.vtk 

  where vtkpkg.vtk will now contain all of VTK and vtkpkg will not.

Although reasonable, the name isn't so great.  Other names were also
suggested but they also didnt seem to appeal the Python users.

I was thinking of another naming convention that folks might like.
Here it is.

  from vtk import vtk
  a = vtk.vtkFoo()

  # or
  from vtk.vtk import *
  a = vtkFoo()

  # package access
  from vtk import common
  a = common.vtkCommonFoo()

  import vtk.common
  a = vtk.common.vtkCommonFoo()

  import vtk.gui.tk as vtk_tk
  v = vtk_tk.vtkTkRenderWindow() # or something.
etc. etc.


  (1) In this case the names are still small and neat.

  (2) The base vtk package will *not* have all of VTK silently
  imported into its namespace.

  (3) Package access is straightforward just like before.


  (1) It is a bit inconvenient doing:

      from vtk import vtk

  It also sounds a little funny.  Some may also dislike using vtk.vtk
  and might prefer

      import vtk

However, I think this disadvantage is not too bad.  Afterall the
package access gives people a lot of other things, most notably a way
to integrate all vtk python related stuff into one package rather than
have a large bunch of files that do different things.

Also, as regards the gui stuff I propose the following:

  import vtk.tk
  v = vtk.tk.vtkTkRenderWidget()

  import vtk.gtk
  v = vtk.gtk.vtkTkRenderWidget()

I dont think the gui sub package is essential at all.  Its pretty
obvious that tk/gtk/wx/anygui/qt are all toolkits.  Sticking them
inside a gui dir makes access more painful.

I'd appreciate feedback on these proposals.  If we have a consensus I
can make the necessary changes.  Once this is done we can slowly
populate the package with the gui code, clean it up and also add much
needed testing code to the tree.


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