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SPECs announced at SciPy 2021

Stéfan van der Walt announces the Scientific Python Ecosystem Coordination project and talks about the SPEC documents during SciPy 2021.

Hi everyone,

Today, I am excited to introduce to you a new planning effort for better coordinating the Scientific Python ecosystem.

So, unlike the other talks in this session, this talk is not about one specific tool, but rather about all the tools and how they work together.

In the early days of the SciPy conference, we had fewer than 50 attendees—and many of those were core library developers. So, it was easy to get everyone around a table and to talk about important decisions that affected several projects.

But that hasn’t been possible for quite some time. Unsurprisingly then, one of the concerns we’ve heard from users is that the ecosystem sometimes lacks coherence.

And, to address that, we are launching an effort to get projects talking to one another again, to strategize about their joint future, and to make that future a reality.


Specifically, we have the following aims:

  1. to create a mechanism through which the community can establish cross-project policies;
  2. to improve common engineering infrastructure;
  3. to organize topic-focused developer events to uncover needs;
  4. to write a community-vetted strategic plan, and
  5. to help projects develop their own grant proposals and to get funded.

We have started work on the first aim of the project: a mechanism through which the community can establish cross-project policies.


These policy documents we call SPECs: Scientific Python Ecosystem Coordination documents.

These documents will function similarly to PEPs, NEPs, SKIPs, or any of the other enhancement proposals—except that they will be relevant to multiple projects in the ecosystem.

These documents will be recommendations written up by the community, and their authority will derive from endorsement by popular libraries.


A SPEC has the following lifecycle.

First, it gets discussed on the Scientific Python Discussion Forum. We hope that this forum will eventually become a gathering place for many of the projects in the ecosystem.


Once it is clear that the idea has merit, it will become a Markdown document filed as a pull request on the scientific-python GitHub repository.


The SPEC will be guided through acceptance stages by community volunteers, known as the SPEC Steering Committee.

These are the current members of the committee, who have volunteered their time to help facilitate the SPEC process.

It should be noted that the emphasis is specifically on facilitation, rather than gatekeeping. Again, the SPECs will derive their authority from endorsement by projects in the ecosystem.


We thank these core projects who have agreed to serve as the initial SPEC endorsers.


If you have a great idea for improving the Scientific Python ecosystem, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Finally, we look forward to working with you all in bringing the ecosystem together more closely.

Thank you.