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Trent Mick, March 5, 2010
I'm back from PyCon 2010 in Atlanta (and rested after the excitement of the Winter Olympics here in Vancouver) -- it was frantic and a blast. For me PyCon is a place to immerse in Python for a while. To learn and be inspired from talks. To meet and learn from people. To be entertained. To get a feel for what is happening in the Python world and see where I (personally) and my company can best contribute to Python.
People at PyCon
A huge part of the conference is meeting the people -- whether it is old friends, random people in the so-called "Hallway Track" or people you've only met through a common project interest online. Some highlights for me:
- David Beazley's passionately explaining tweaks to his GIL patches and analysis during the Language Summit.
- Discussing plans for the for the next edition of the print the Python Cookbook with David Mertz, Raymond Hettinger and Julie Steele. ActiveState recently made a number of improvements to the online Python Cookbook in support of this.
- Discussing packaging and stdlib issues with Tarek Ziadé and Ian Bicking.
- Being a fly on the wall for a pitch by Raymond Hettinger to Guido to have the Python
setobject maintain insertion order. It was a great example of the care and attention that the BDFL and contributors (like Raymond) give to every small detail of the language.
- Discussing the Python Code Intelligence (Intellisense, whatever you call it) designs in Komodo IDE, Wing IDE and IronPython's Visual Studio add-in with the Wing guys (Stephan Deibel and John Ehresman) and IronPython guys (Dino Viehland and Bill Chiles). (I'm the author of the current Python codeintel engine in Komodo. I hope to have a comparison post at some point.)
ActiveState had a booth in the vendor area this year (the first year we've done this) and I'm glad we did. It made for a good chance to visit with many people that stopped by with kudos for ActivePython or Komodo, to ask questions about what we do, or just to chat. ActiveState's goal is to provide good distributions and tools for dynamic languages. It was good to bat around related ideas with PyCon attendees.
Themes & Highlights
Some themes from the conferences this year:
- The multiple Python implementations are more seriously considered a strong part of the ecosystem, viz.: Guido's agreement (during the Language Summit) to start having Unladden Swallow work move to Python source repository, the Moratorium on CPython language changes to allow the other implementations to catch-up, the time spent in the Language Summit with each implementation representative giving an overview of their Python version support roadmaps and the number of "State of" and interesting development talks on Jython,
IronPython and Unladden Swallow given in the conference talks.
- The "Hallway" track.
- The Testing Goat. Until the raucous Testing in Python open space on Saturday evening I had no idea that so much passion, innovation and stand-up comedy exists in the Python testing world. (More often you see this passion in the Ruby testing camp.) It was an evening of pizza, beer (thanks Disney!), goats, heckling and testing nerdiness. Perfect.
- Python's packaging problems finally seem to be regarded as problem #1. Antonio Rodriguez's excellent keynote helped sell the problem: "giving a geek a half finished packaging solution is like giving a child a Sawzall to build a treehouse." Tarek Ziadé (and others) have been hard at work on fixing this for a year. Tarek's world was rocked a little bit in the Language Summit when it was suggested that his distutils work be kept out of the stdlib for the time being to have time to mature. But the new hope is distutils2 and The Hitchhiker's Guide to Packaging. Watch Tarek's (entertaining!) talk on http://pycon.blip.tv/posts?view=archive when it becomes available and consider devoting some of your open source time to helping these projects. Packaging also got its own mascot at the conference.
Some of my favorite talks from the conference:
- David Beazley's Understanding the Python GIL
- Bob Ippolito's The other kind of testing (video not up yet)
- Greg Wilson's lightning talk on "The Next Big Programming Language Book" (video (starts at 9:40 in))
- The keynotes by Mark Shuttleworth and Antonio Rodriguez were excellent. (videos not up yet)
I also did a lightning talk (starts at 29:25 in) on the updates to the ActiveState Code site (aka the online Python Cookbook) and O'Reilly's plans for a third edition of the print Python Cookbook.
The fact that everyone (see links to other PyCon wrap-ups below) is claiming a different set of notable talks is a good sign: lots of good stuff cutting across lots of different interests.
By the way, I've found that this Miro Community page is the best listing of currently available videos from PyCon. The videos are actually hosted on http://pycon.blip.tv/ but the archive/index page is a little painful to navigate through if you are looking for a particular talk.
If you just can't get enough "PyCon wrap-up" here are a number of wrap-ups that I found interesting:
A big thanks out to Van Lindberg (the conference chair), Jesse Noller (the talk schedule organizer) and all the other volunteers that put the conference together.