Python - IronPython dilemma

Question!

I'm starting to study Python, and for now I like it very much. But, if you could just answer a few questions for me, which have been troubling me, and I can't find any definite answers to them:

  1. What is the relationship between Python's C implementation (main version from python.org) and IronPython, in terms of language compatibility ? Is it the same language, and do I by learning one, will be able to smoothly cross to another, or is it Java to JavaScript ?

  2. What is the current status to IronPython's libraries ? How much does it lags behind CPython libraries ? I'm mostly interested in numpy/scipy and f2py. Are they available to IronPython ?

  3. What would be the best way to access VB from Python and the other way back (connecting some python libraries to Excel's VBA, to be exact) ?



Answers

1) The language implemented by CPython and IronPython are the same, or at most a version or two apart. This is nothing like the situation with Java and Javascript, which are two completely different languages given similar names by some bone-headed marketing decision.

2) 3rd-party libraries implemented in C (such as numpy) will have to be evaluated carefully. IronPython has a facility to execute C extensions (I forget the name), but there are many pitfalls, so you need to check with each library's maintainer

3) I have no idea.



  1. IronPython version 2.0.2, the current release, supports Python 2.5 syntax. With the next release, 2.6, which is expected sometime over the next month or so (though I'm not sure the team have set a hard release date; here's the beta), they will support Python 2.6 syntax. So, less Java to JavaScript and more Java to J# :-)
  2. All of the libraries that are themselves written in Python work pretty much perfectly. The ones that are written in C are more problematic; there is an open source project called Ironclad (full disclosure: developed and supported by my company), currently at version 0.8.5, which supports numpy pretty well but doesn't cover all of scipy. I don't think we've tested it with f2py. (The version of Ironclad mentioned below by Alex Martelli is over a year old, please avoid that one!)
  3. Calling regular VB.NET from IronPython is pretty easy -- you can instantiate .NET classes and call methods (static or instance) really easily. Calling existing VBA code might be trickier; there are open source projects called Pyinex and XLW that you might want to take a look at. Alternatively, if you want a spreadsheet you can code in Python, then there's always Resolver One (another one from my company... :-)


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