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I am looking for a recommendation on a platform for building quick calculation tools (with a gui) that I can reuse and also need basic file functions.

I am an engineer and use a lot of calculations for different equipment sizing exercises and such. I would like to build a simple software utility that I can store some of the calculations in so that future calculations are quick and easy.
The features that I am most concerned with:

  • It should be straightforward to add additional features later.
  • I would like the tool to allow packaging so that I can share it with others who are unlikely to participate in development
  • I would like file inputs and outputs to be straightforward to implement so that I can just load the calculation parameters if I need to revisit an older calculation. I would envision the files using xml or something similar.
  • The majority of users would be Windows users, so that would be my target platform

I am not a stranger to programming, but have spent most of my time working with C++. I am looking for some direction if using python, or java or something else would be the most straightforward for these purposes since I fully understand that you could accomplish these tasks with virtually any language/platform with enough time and work.

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I would suggest taking a look at the combination of Python, Numpy, Scipy, etc. for the calculations you may wish to use cython for any intensive calculations that are not already available & possibly Jupyter Notebooks for the UI.

The calculations part: Pythons extensive range of libraries give a huge range of functions in a range of fields that are fast and well tested. Python also supports arbitrary precision calculations if needed.

The UI part: There are a number of GUI creation tools available such as wxPython but the reasons that I would suggest Jupyter notebooks are that:

  • Your user interface is a web page
  • That web page can contain the code, data, parameters, explanations, formulae, charts and diagrams all in one place
  • You can quickly produce reports in PDF format, etc.

Platforms: The above tool chains are available for Windows, Linux, Mac, and a large number of other platforms from RaspberryPi up to Super Computer Clusters and your code, provided you avoid a very few platform specific packages, will run on all of them.

Packaging: There are a number of packaging options including:

  • Point your users at where to install the tools and let them do so
  • PyInstaller, cxFreeze, py2exe, py2App can be user to build packages for specific platforms that include everything needed.
  • You could make a server available that is running JupyterHub or DockerSpawner that any of your users can connect to an start their own Jupyter session.
  • You can bundle up everything needed into a docker container.

The best bit about this is that, with a little care, you can provide all of the above options without having to rebuild your code for each.

Cost: All of the above tools are Free, gratis & open source.

Licencing Issues: All of the above tools are under "permissive" licences which allow commercial use as well as academic and public distribution.

Quick Development: Python is very well known for the speed with which it is possible to develop new tools but still allows, by using the libraries, etc., fast execution.

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