Upgrade to Julia Version 0.3.0

By: Bradley Setzler

Re-posted from: http://juliaeconomics.com/2014/09/01/upgrade-to-julia-version-3/

The Julia developers have officially released version 0.3.0, and it is a good idea to upgrade. The key packages in Julia that we use for economics — especially DataFrames — are being rapidly developed for 0.3.0, so you will need to upgrade to take advantage of new and improved features.

It’s relatively easy to upgrade Julia. However, it appears that Julia Studio does not and will not support 0.3.0, so the bigger problem users will face is abandoning Julia Studio in favor of another environment for writing and testing codes.

There are a few candidates from which you may choose to replace Julia Studio. My recommendation is IJulia. IJulia is somewhat easy to install, easy to use, and excellent for working with graphics. A drawback of using IJulia is that it loads in your browser and, at least in my experience, it often crashes the browser (I am using Safari on a Mac), so you will need to save your work frequently.

The greater drawback is that IJulia is much more difficult to install than Julia Studio, as it requires the installation of IPython. It used to be true that a complete novice could install and use both Julia and a coding environment with a few clicks. Now, it is more involved.


How to Install Julia 0.3.0 and IJulia

Here is a (somewhat) quick guide to upgrading Julia and replacing Julia Studio with IJulia:

  1. Delete your existing Julia and Julia Studio. On a Mac, these are located within the Applications folder. These can only cause problems by leaving them on your computer. You may need to check for hidden files relating to Julia and delete those as well (this is definitely true on a Mac, as the hidden ~.julia must be found and deleted). You can find instructions specific to your operating system here under Platform Specific Instructions.
  2. Go here and download Julia version 0.3.0. Once it finishes downloading, open the file and allow it to install. On a Mac, you can find Julia-0.3.0 in Applications once it has finished installing. Open Julia by double-clicking the application. It will open a command prompt/terminal that indicates you are using Julia version 0.3.0. You have successfully upgraded Julia.
  3. To install IJulia, first you will need to install IPython here. If you are lucky, pip install works for you and you can install IPython with one command. If not, you should consider installing a Python distribution that includes IPython; the easiest option may be to install Anaconda, although this gives you much more than you need.
  4. If you have made it this far, the rest is easy. Simply open Julia, use the Julia commands Pkg.add(“IJulia”), then Pkg.build(“IJulia”), then Pkg.update().
  5. You are finished. To open IJulia, you can either use the commands using IJulia then notebook() within Julia, or within the command prompt/terminal use the command ipython notebook –profile julia.

Going Forward

Compare these moderately complicated instructions to my previous promise that anyone could have Julia and a Julia coding environment ready to use in under 5 minutes. 5 minute installation was one of my favorite aspects of Julia, and this is an unfortunate casualty of the upgrade to 0.3.0.

At the moment, it is easier to install R and R Studio than to install Julia and IJulia, unless you already have IPython on your computer. Hopefully, the Julia developer community, which is actively engaged and dedicated to the performance of this language, create a new one-click approach to installing both Julia and a Julia coding environment, which used to be available from Julia Studio. In the mean time, IJulia appears to be the best option for new users.

I hope this guide makes the transition a bit easier for you.


Bradley J. Setzler