New to Python¶
These instructions are intended for users from a biology, chemistry, or physics perspective who are getting started with MDTraj and may be unfamiliar with Python or programming.
MDtraj is not a standalone program. It’s a software package that provides functions for analyzing and working with molecular dynamics trajectories in python; it’s a set of building blocks.
Python is ideal because it gives you the ability to mix and match or combine tools in new ways. You can truly develop analyses and visualizations. You can do all of this while building on top of a wealth of high-quality open source packages for interactive scientific computing, like IPython, numpy, scipy, scikit-learn, and matplotlib.
There are multiple ways to install Python. We strongly recommend that you
use the Anaconda distribution, which is
aimed towards scientists. It comes pre-installed with most of the building
blocks you need for numerical and scientific computing, and with a great
conda, for installing additional packages.
Download Anaconda scientific python. Pick Python 3.5
After installing python, you’ll need to install
mdtraj using the
- Windows: Find the
Anaconda Command Promptin the Start Menu
- OS X: Open the Terminal application in Applications / Utilities
From the command line, type
python --version. This should show the version
of python you have installed. For example, the command:
$ python --version
Python 3.5.1 :: Continuum Analytics, Inc.
If everything looks good, go ahead and install
mdtraj using the
conda install -c conda-forge mdtraj
conda-forge “channel” provides a variety of packages supported by the
Starting MDTraj with IPython/Jupyter¶
If you’re using Windows, open the Jupyter Notebook from the Start Menu. For
OS X or Linux, run the command
jupyter notebook from a command line
prompt. This should load up a new notebook in your browser.
From here, you can start by trying
import mdtraj, or copying a pasting
commands from our examples page, and getting familiar
with the environment. You’re off to the races!
Resources and Getting Help¶
Here are some resources that you might find useful for getting started, especially for scientists and scientific programming in Python.
- Code Academy Introduction to Python
- This web course from Code Academy is a good introduction to basic programming in Python (without a particular focus on scientific works). It covers syntax, functions, control flow, and data structures.
- Scientific Python Lecture Notes
- Tutorial material on the scientific Python ecosystem, a quick introduction to central tools and techniques. The different chapters each correspond to a 1 to 2 hours course with increasing level of expertise, from beginner to expert.
- Lessons from the Software Carpentry
- The Software Carpentry is a non-profit organization whose members teach researchers basic software skills. All their teaching material is online and freely available. They might be hosting a workshop near you too!
- MDTraj Discussion Forums
- You can ask questions in our discussion forums. It is generally quite responsive.
- MDTraj Github Issue Tracker
- The development activity for MDTraj takes place openly on github. This is the best way to contact the developers directly, and participate in improving MDTraj for everyone.