[pyngl-talk] Important announcement regarding the future of NCL and PyNIO

Mary Haley haley at ucar.edu
Wed Feb 6 06:28:34 MST 2019

Dear PyNIO Users,

This letter is in regard to the future of NCL, following NCAR's decision to
move to Python as the scripting language of choice for future visualization
and analysis software development. *This decision impacts the future of
PyNIO as well*. It targets new development, leaving existing NCL and
PyNIO functionality

NCAR is committed to supporting data analysis software for atmospheric,
oceanic, and climate science research. However, decreases in budgets and
staff, coupled with the enormous functionality that Python brings to the
earth sciences, has made it difficult to justify continuing new development
on NCL. Python has seen rapid adoption by the earth science community and
duplicates much of NCL's functionality, while adding critical features that
NCL doesn't offer.

Based on recommendations from NSF, CISL and NCL advisory panels, the
results of the NCL survey, and months of evaluating different strategies
for the future development and support of NCL, NCAR has arrived at these
major decisions, effective immediately:

   - Python will be adopted as the scripting language platform for future
   visualization and analysis development.
   - NCL's core language and file I/O will be placed into maintenance mode.
   - NCL's graphics will have continued development through PyNGL
   - NCL's unique and critical computational routines will be ported to an
   as-yet-to-be-named Python package.
   - PyNIO <http://www.pyngl.ucar.edu/Nio.shtml>*** will be placed into
   maintenance mode.
   - Development will continue on WRF-Python
   - All software, including NCL and PyNIO, will be moved to a more open
   development software platform to allow for continued community development.

*** PyNIO, PyNGL, and WRF-Python are Python modules built on top of NCL
libraries, and are developed and supported by the NCL team.

NCAR recognizes the significance of these changes. It will take time for
NCL users to transition to Python, and some users may not want to make the
switch at all. As such, we want to stress that NCL is not going away. NCL
users will be able to download NCL and execute their scripts for the
foreseeable future.

To help users who want to begin transitioning their graphical NCL scripts
to PyNGL right away, Karin Meier-Fleischer of DKRZ has written a first
draft of an "NCL-to-Python Transition Guide
accompanied by a suite of NCL and Python examples
<http://www.ncl.ucar.edu/Applications/NCL_to_Python/>.  Additionally, we
will soon begin converting a subset of the NCL application examples to
Python, using PyNGL <http://www.pyngl.ucar.edu/> and matplotlib
<https://matplotlib.org>, and will continue to answer questions on the
ncl-talk <http://mailman.ucar.edu/mailman/listinfo/ncl-talk> email list,
but scaling back in order to start helping with Python questions.

For a detailed report and roadmap on the "pivot to Python" decision and
transition plan, please read the "NCL and the Pivot to Python: Discussion
and Roadmap
report, which can be found on a special page we created containing other
supporting documents <http://www.ncl.ucar.edu/Document/Pivot_to_Python/>.

The NCL team welcomes your input on this decision. We also want to know if
there are other ways we can help ease the transition to Python and
encourage users to become more active contributors through open
development. Please use this GitHub issue
<https://github.com/NCAR/ncl/issues/64> to submit questions or comments so
we can keep the discussion public.

*NCL Team:*
John Clyne (acting group head)
Rick Brownrigg
Mary Haley
Kevin Hallock
Bill Ladwig
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