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Re: A question on Matlab compatibility

From: John W. Eaton
Subject: Re: A question on Matlab compatibility
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2006 11:19:32 -0400

On 16-Sep-2006, Ron Crummett wrote:

| Maybe I'm missing something here, but I have always seen Octave-forge as 
| an open-source attempt to include the functional extendability that the 
| various Matlab toolboxes provides.

That is part of it, but the other more important part is that Octave
Forge provides a central location for people to contribute code, and
for people to work on it in a collaborative way.  It, like Octave, is
a community project, and it is freely available.  So if you don't like
what you see, you can help to improve it.  But just complaining will
usually not cause the people who are doing the work to make
improvements just to meet your needs.  In fact, it often has the
opposite effect, of just annoying the people who have been doing the
hard work.

| I have always been under the impression that to be included in 
| Octave-forge, some requirements must be satisfied, in order to prevent 
| anybody from writing some simple script and submitting it, only to have 
| the rest of us in fits because we don't know how to use it.

I think pretty much anything with a free software license is accepted
in the Octave Forge collection.  We tend to place more requirements on
code that is distributed as a part of Octave itself (Texinfo doc
strings, code formatting conventions, etc.).

| In the cases I have mentioned, I don't think it would be hard at all to 
| provide more compatibility between Octave and Matlab.

Then please submit some patches to make it happen.

| For example, 
| Matlab has the series function that performs a multiplication of two 
| cascaded systems.  Octave has a function by the same name and with the 
| same functionality, but when it is called displays a warning encouraging 
| its users to use sysmult instead, a function whose name lends itself 
| well to its performance.

You seem to be under the impression that these choices were made just
to make things difficult for you and other users.  I doubt that is the
case.  Most of the control functions for Octave were written before
the MathWorks released the current interface for the Matlab control
toolbox.  So it is not surprising that there are some differences.  It
is not as if we made the interface incompatible just for the sake of
being incompatible.  Again, if you would like to help improve things,
then please submit some patches.  I don't think there is currently an
active maintainer of the control functions in Octave, so it might help
to have some people working on it.

| Heck, I'd do both of these if I knew I wasn't stepping 
| on anyone's toes.

There is little need to worry about that around here.  It's not like
we have so many people working on Octave that we are constantly
bumping into each other.

| Perhaps a break-off of Octave-forge is needed, some sort of general code 
| repository similar to the Matlab Central exchange.  Octave-forge could 
| be preserved with the goal of Matlab toolbox compatibility (again, 
| that's how I've always seen it) and Octave-central (call it what you 
| will)  could be a third-party code submission where people submit their 
| task-specific code.

We (mostly Soren and David) have been working on moving toward a
package system for Octave to help encourage more contributions.  With
the package system, it will be easier to install just the parts of
the Octave Forge collection that you need rather than installing all
of it.  It will also be easier for people to package and distribute
their own collections of functions.  I'm hopeful that this will result
in more contributions.


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