Microsoft has donated $100,000 to sponsor IPython’s continued development.
IPython is a command shell for interactive computing in multiple programming languages. It's creator, Dr Fernando Perez was presented with the 2012 Award for the Advancement of Free Software at this year's Libre Planet and described it saying:
"IPython is a project that began its life as sort of a hybrid of an interactive python console and a unix shell, but it has grown into a set of components for scientific computing from interactive exploration to parallel computing, publication and education. Today, its scope goes beyond scientific research to anyone who needs interactive computing, not only in the Python language, as our current architecture aims to be language agnostic."
The donation came shortly after the release of IPython 1.0 and was received through NumFocus, an umbrella organization that aims to ensure that money is available to keep projects in the scientific Python stack funded.
In its announcement, IPython stated:
We are extremely grateful for this contribution, which we will use to continue strengthening multiple aspects of IPython. While we have other sources of funding and the support of the larger open source community, these new funds will help us to focus effort in specific areas where we identify additional challenges or opportunities beyond the scope of those resources.
It also outlined previous milestones in its collaboration with Microsoft:
- 2009 - integration with Windows HPC Server for IPython’s parallel computing capabilities
- 2010 - integration between IPython and Visual Studio with the launch of the free, open source plug-in Python Tools for Visual Studio. The release candidate of PTVS 2.0 was released last month
- 2012 - IPython Notebook on Windows Azure showed how IPython could be used to easily control computational resources in Microsoft’s cloud platform.
The project had already been awarded a grant of up to $1.15 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support its development over the two-year period 2013-14, allowing it to embark on an ambitious development schedule. The latest stable version is 1.1.0, released last month, and IPython 2.0, which is currently under development on GitHub, planned to be released by the end of this year.
It is great that Microsoft can find sponsoring IPython to its advantage - shame it can't do the same for the similarly named IronPython the .NET implementation of Python. This was back in the days when Microsoft wanted the .NET system to encompass the entire programming world. Microsoft abandoned this in 2010 and its currently supported by a small band as open software. This is a project were a small number of dollars would make a big difference.