PyCon 2012 Wrap Up: Those Clouds On the Horizon Are Closer Than You Think!
by Diane Mueller

Diane Mueller, March 14, 2012

From dancing robots to big data in the cloud, the many faces of Python programming were present and accounted for at PyCon 2012 in Santa Clara this past week. With over 2250 attendees, this was the largest-ever gathering of Python developers.

Major kudos to the conference organizers (@jessenoller, @holdenweb and the entire @psf staff), volunteers, and attendees for making this event such an amazing and diverse gathering of pythonic minds. There were hundreds of sessions and tutorial to choose from. Here are a few of my highlights.

PyWeb WebDev Summit: Packaging, Portability, and Python
The ActiveState Stackato team (@pythondj, @ingydotnet & @troytop) started the week at the PyWebDev Summit with 90 core Python web framework developers and cloud providers asking each other some hard questions. The discussion centered on issues like cloud application portablity, how to go to the next level with Python packaging, and finding the demarcation line in the sand where language-specific details meet deployment-specific tasks. While we may not have found all the answers, the session did foster a number of side conversations among PaaS providers comparing notes on our shared use of YAML as a manifest for deployment details. That later morphed into an ongoing discussion on the move to a common manifest approach to ensure cloud application portability across PaaS providers. (Exactly the kind of interaction that PyCon is famous for facilitating.)

Did I mention dancing robots?

The PyCon conference really kicked into high gear when group of break-dancing yet cuddly NAO robots (all programmed in Python, of course) from Aldebaran Robotics supplied the opening act for Day 2. PyCon 2013 is planned Montreal—perhaps Cirque du Soleil can top the dancing robots!

In his keynote speech,  Python expert David Beazley (@dabeaz) did something diabolically awesome: he tinkered with PyPy and shared his personal explorations. In his 45 minute presentation, Beazley raised the visibility of the PyPy project in the community to atmospheric heights – and maybe gained a few hundred more contributors and fellow tinkerers for the PyPy project.

Great bolts of lightning!
PyCon’s five-minute lightning talks are always a highlight. This year, faced with the potentially lengthy prospect of 2000+ attendee talks, organizers chose speakers at random. (How very pythonic.) I was blown away by the Saturday-night lightning talks which featured Amjidanutpan Ramanujam’s (@amjithr) bpython presentation. (It was so compelling I downloaded bpython during his speech. Sorry, ipython.) After Sam Clarke (@darwin_bio) spoke, we all wanted to sign up to be webdevs for the Charles Darwin Foundation and move to the Galápagos Islands to work on the CDF’s awesome Python/Django project!

With so many sessions to choose from, it was hard to pick a favorite. But it’s worth calling out the awesome job Jeremiah Jordan did demonstrating how to use Apache Cassandra with Python—It seemed so easy to do that I might even try it with Stackato.

A very cloudy Expo
With 136 sponsors, the exhibit hall was packed to the GILs with many cloud vendors, including SaaS vendors (many head-hunting for fresh python meat to keep their products running smoothly), PaaS solution providers both public and private (like ActiveState, Heroku, Google, and VMWare’s Cloud Foundry), and numerous web framework community booths like Pyramid (whose Iron Maiden-themed tee-shirts where a hit of the show).

Over at the ActiveState booth, we gave hundreds of demos showing how to use ActiveState’s Stackato to deploy both new and legacy apps to the cloud, ensure cloud application portability, avoid vendor lock-in, lower costs, and achieve tighter security/better compliance. Not to brag too much, but we also showed off Stackato’s awesome ability to deploy all the Python frameworks. (We even snuck in a few demos of deploying Java, PHP, Perl, Node.js, Clojure, Scala, and yes, Ruby too.)
One week post-Stackato launch, we were happy to be joined in our booth by web services provider Appsembler, a new Stackato customer. It was great to have Appsembler demoing its service and helping to spread the word about Stackato.

And when Guido van Rossum showed up at the booth, we were thrilled to demo and show off Stackato to Python’s BDFL.
If you missed our OpenSpace session or if you didn’t get a chance to connect with ActiveState at PyCon 2012, visit us online at

You can take Stackato for a spin with the Stackato Micro Cloud, available now for free download.


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Diane Mueller is a Cloud Evangelist at ActiveState. She has been designing & implementing financial applications at Fortune 500 corporations for over 20 years. Diane has been actively involved in development efforts of XBRL Open Standard ( since 1999.