Open-source software tends to evolve along the easy dimensions first. Both R and Scipy are nice tools to explore and interact with data and problems. However, I can be much more productive in the Matlab environment than either R or Scipy. Why?
I’ve ascertained a few reasons. First, I know Matlab better than either, but I know python pretty well. Second, Matlab maps nicely to the problems I tend to solve. My research revolves around matrix computations, and Matlab is the matrix laboratory.
Third, the Matlab environment is great! It has an incredible editor that interacts with the console. It has a full-featured graphical console (visible command history, graphical tab completion, workspace display, intuitive command history browsing). The cell-mode editor, alone, is wonderful for iteratively constructing an experiment. Neither R nor Scipy feature anything like these environments. Some graphical systems come close, but the interaction design of the Matlab editor is superior.
Thus, my request: A Matlab-esque environment for Scipy and R. Copy everything! In fact, the goal should be to create this environment for a large class of languages that require a mix of interactive and static scripting.