how to make matplotlib faster?

At least where I work, our style guidelines make it a little

    > more verbose. I need to use descriptive variable names (for

The new short names were meant for easy, interactive use, to minimize
the number of keystrokes. For scripts, especially if you have verbose
coding guidelines, I suggest you use the functions that are already
defined in the matplotlib __init__ file

  import matplotlib
  b = matplotlib.is_interactive()
  ....your plot commands here....

The short names call these functions, anyhow.

Note that this discussion may be moot, because when writing plotting
functions I rarely use the drawing commands of the pylab interface
since these are by and large wrappers of other methods, eg Axes
methods. Since only the pylab plotting commands trigger the
draw_if_interactive method, you can safely do things like

  ax.set_title('this is a test')

w/o worrying about the interactive setting.