Episode 49 – VPython with Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood

Visit our site to listen to past episodes, support the show, join our community, and sign up for our mailing list.

Summary

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to generate interactive 3D visualizations of physical systems in a declarative manner with Python? In this episode we spoke with Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood about the VPython project which does just that. They tell us about how the use VPython in their classrooms, how the project got started, and the work they have done to bring it into the browser.

linode-banner-sponsor-largeDo you want to try out some of the tools and applications that you heard about on Podcast.__init__? Do you have a side project that you want to share with the world? Check out Linode at linode.com/podcastinit or use the code podcastinit2017 and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers. They’ve got lightning fast networking and SSD servers with plenty of power and storage to run whatever you want to experiment on.


On Hired software engineers & designers can get 5+ interview requests in a week and each offer has salary and equity upfront. With full time and contract opportunities available, users can view the offers and accept or reject them before talking to any company. Work with over 2,500 companies from startups to large public companies hailing from 12 major tech hubs in North America and Europe. Hired is totally free for users and If you get a job you’ll get a $2,000 “thank you” bonus. If you use our special link to signup, then that bonus will double to $4,000 when you accept a job. If you’re not looking for a job but know someone who is, you can refer them to Hired and get a $1,337 bonus when they accept a job.


Brief Introduction

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or RSS
  • Follow us on Twitter or Google+
  • Give us feedback! Leave a review on iTunes, Tweet to us, send us an email or leave us a message on Google+
  • Join our community! Visit discourse.pythonpodcast.com for your opportunity to find out about upcoming guests, suggest questions, and propose show ideas.
  • I would like to thank everyone who has donated to the show. Your contributions help us make the show sustainable. For details on how to support the show you can visit our site at pythonpodcast.com
  • Linode is sponsoring us this week. Check them out at linode.com/podcastinit and get a $20 credit to try out their fast and reliable Linux virtual servers for your next project
  • I would also like to thank Hired, a job marketplace for developers and designers, for sponsoring this episode of Podcast.__init__. Use the link hired.com/podcastinit to double your signing bonus.
  • Your hosts as usual are Tobias Macey and Chris Patti
  • Today we are interviewing Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood about their work on VPython

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python? – Chris
  • What is VPython and how did it get started? – Tobias
  • What problems inspired you to create VPython? – Chris
  • How do you design an API that allows for such powerful 3D visualization while still making it accessible to students who are focusing on learning new concepts in mathematics and physics so that they don’t get overwhelmed by the tool? – Tobias
  • I know many schools have embraced the open curriculum idea, have any of your physics courses using VPython been made available to the non matriculating public? – Chris
  • How does VPython perform its rendering? If you were to reimplement it would you do anything differently? – Tobias
  • One of the remarkable points about VPython is its ability to execute the simulations in a browser environment. Can you explain the technologies involved to make that work? – Tobias
  • Given the real-time rendering capabilities in VPython I’m sure that performance is a core concern for the project. What are some of the methods that are used to ensure an appropriate level of speed and does the cross-platform nature of the package pose any additional challenges? – Tobias
  • How does collision detection work in VPython, and does it handle more complex assemblies of component objects? – Chris
  • Can you talk a little bit about VPython’s design, and perhaps walk us through how a simple scene is rendered, say the results of the sphere() call? – Chris

Keep In Touch

Picks

Links

The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA