Tag Archive for 'pycon'

Best PyCon Evar

I probably should have chosen a different title for this post, because at the rate things are going for PyCon, I’ll just have to use the same title again for the next few years. This year, PyCon happened during the same week as ApacheCon EU (the 10th anniversary of the ASF), and EclipseCon. I have a slight bit of regret that I wasn’t at ApacheCon for the 10 year anniversary, but I’m planning to be at the 10th anniversary celebration at ApacheCon US in Oakland, in November. That roughly corresponds to the time when first got involved with Apache and open source, so it will be pretty meaningful. Beyond that, it was hands down for PyCon, my favorite conference. Even if the PyCon organizers hadn’t invited me to speak on a topic of my choosing, there are just so many things to love about PyCon.

The Talks

PyCon 2009

Despite a very active and fun hallway track, I did go to a number of talks.   

I went to Adam Christian and Mikeal Rogerstalk on Windmill mostly for moral support. We worked together at OSAF, and I like Windmill, and it’s really good to see Windmill picking up steam in the Python and other communities. If you are looking for a web testing framework, particularly one that is string at AJAX applications, you owe it to yourself to look at Windmill.

There were a few tools talks that I attended. I use IPython, so I was curious to see how Reinteract: a better way to interact with Python, would improve on IPython. I like the Visicalc/TkSolver like worksheet that allows you to change values in a Python interpreter history and have values propage forward. I’d love to see all these REPL tools come together in an integrated way. We might finally get back to the functionality of the Lisp Machine REPLs someday. I also attended How AlterWay releases web applications using “zc.buildout“ since Jacob Kaplan-Moss warned me that the zc.buildout documentation was sorely lacking. Even that talk wasn’t enough to get me going, but the sprints produced some great new documentation for buildout. I’m looking forward to digging into that.

Some talks dealt directly with topics that are relevant to work, particularly now that the dynamic languages folks at Sun are now a part of the Cloud Computing division. These talks included:

  • Twisted AMQP and Thrift: Bridging Messaging and RPC for building scalable distributed applications – Twisted bridges to AMQP and Thrift.

  • Concurrency and Distributed Computing with Python Today – Jesse Noller did a great job surveying the various offerings available in Python today. There’s a lot of stuff there, but I think that there’s still quite some way to go yet. That’s not picking on Python, that’s just my general view of this space.

  • Drop ACID and think about data – Bob Ippolito did a really nice survey of the various non-relational/non-transactional data storage options out there. Bob actually tried many of these, so the survey is useful for weeding out systems aren’t really ready for prime time. A must view if you haven’t been paying attention to this space.

  • Pinax: a platform for rapidly developing websites – I’ve been following Pinax via Twitter for some time now, and James Tauber and I were involved at the beginning of the Apache XML project almost 10 years ago. Despite all that, we’ve never actually met in person until this week. James had a tough job with his talk. Pinax is very new, so he could either talk for the people who didn’t know what Pinax is, or he could talk to people wanted to know where things were. James knew this was going to be a problem and said so in his talk. And it was, at least for me. Fortunately, I managed to sit down with James at the sprints and get my questions answered. Zed Shaw recently wrote a (very positive) review of Django. That’s interesting since Zed was a hard core Rails guy. It’s also interesting because he called out Django’s emphasis on modularity and Pinax as an example of that modularity. My questions about Pinax were mostly about what (if anything) Pinax has done to build on the modularity provided by Django. At the moment, the various Pinax components cooperate mostly via conventions. Things are still early in Pinax, and I wasn’t surprised to hear this. James did say that some conventions were close to getting codified/documented/supported by the framework, which is what I am really interested in. In some ways, the data representation and modularity problems are similar to the kinds of problems that we were trying to solve for Chandler. Pinax is in the social application domain and Chandler is in the PIM domain, so while there are some similarities there are also differences. I’ll definitely be sticking my nose a bit deeper into the Pinax checkout that’s been sitting on my hard disk.

The most entertaining talk that I attended was Ian Bicking’s Topics of Interest. Ian took the invitation to speak on something of interest quite literally which created an air of mystery. In the end, Ian prepared some slides (some of which were quite thoughtful and introspective), used an instance of the new Google Moderator to queue up some audience questions, and created an IRC backchannel which he kept on the screen during his talk. The result has to be watched (and the video is already up) to be understood. It was quite hilarious, with the exception of some unpleasant commentary after someone in IRC asked “why aren’t there more women at PyCon”. The resulting IRC conversation only serves as an explanation for why. Many people felt this way, and discussion of this spilled out into Twitter, and I hope that perhaps we can change things for the better.

I gave my talk, Challenges and Opportunities for Python, and got a pretty good reception. I had a number of hallway and other conversations with people based on the content. I think that I was successful in giving people a perspective on the dynamic language world as a whole, on Python’s place in it, and some things that we might be able to do in order to grow. You can watch the video and make your own assessment, and decide if there are actions worth taking.

This year the conference is benefitting from a great new website (built in Django), and you’ll find the slides and video for each talk on the links. The video team is doing a great job of cranking out the video, so all of them should be up soon, or you can go to pycon.blip.tv to see them all together. Here are some talks that I am going to be checking out:

The Lightning Talks

PyCon 2009

I put the lightning talks in a separate category from the talks because they are a phenomenon at PyCon. This year there were two lightning talk sessions, one at the beginning of each day and one at the end of each day. That’s 6 sessions of lightning talks! Jacob Kaplan-Moss only allowed signups for the next session, and it was truly first come first serve (without last year’s arrangement with the sponsors). There were a number of really good lightning talks. There really isn’t a good record of what got presented except perhaps on Twitter. A search for #pycon should get most of it.

Update: the lightning talks were also video’ed and will be posted on pycon.blip.tv

The Sprints

The PyCon sprints remain a phenomenon. While I don’t think quite as many people stayed this year as last year, there were still a lot of people — enough to fill the basement conference rooms at the Crowne Plaza hotel, and enough to need one of the ballrooms to serve lunch and dinner in. Once again, I hung at the Jython sprint, and wandered in and out of the Django and Pinax sprints. During the two days of sprints that I stayed for, I observed the folks working on ctypes for Jython actually crashing the JVM. SQLAlchemy started to really run on Jython and so did Twisted. Four days of hacking with the core developers of a project generally tends to produce results. So does spending time to bring new people from the community into your project.

I reported a bug in Django as I tried to get buildout setup to do Django on MySQL. I’m talking about Python and MySQL at the MySQL conference in a few weeks, so I was working on my example code. Turns out that MySQLdb doens’t build cleanly on the Mac. The trunk version almost builds cleanly, so I used that, but that version chokes something in Django. Before I discovered that I had done some gymnastics involving a git-svn clone of MySQLdb, a push of that to github, and a git recipe for buildout. I never quite got the git/buildout part working and I decided that it was overkill and that’s when I finally discovered that the trunk didn’t work with Django.

Of course, the sprints are also a time to catchup with/meet people in the community. It’s a time when there are friendly rivalries, joking, and alcohol. One of the momentous occasions during 2008, was that Django got a pony.

The exuberant Django people decided to bring the pony to PyCon…

PyCon 2009

Guido decided that he wanted the pony…

PyCon 2009

This all made for great fun and entertainment, which then spilled over into the sprints as a three way Python Core/Django/Pinax feud, which lead to things like this and this. This is hard core fun, people.

Overall Conference Commentary

The organizers estimated the attendance for this year’s PyCon at around 900 people. That’s a slight decline from last year, but the economic situation is much much worse than it was last year. I think that a 10% decline is a huge success, and a testament to the growth of interest in Python and it’s surrounding ecosystem.

From an organizational point of view, PyCon is continuing its tradition of being a mostly volunteer organized conference. It this respect it is a tour de force, at least in the space of open source conferences. PyCon is using a production company to assist, just as ApacheCon is, but the on site footprint of that company is much smaller than the on site footprint of the company for ApacheCon. Moreover, the number of volunteers helping with things is just enormous. Session chairs, runners to escort speakers from the green room to their sessions, a web site builder, lightning talk coordinator, open spaces coordinator, greeters at the conference desk, photographers, and I’m sure there are a bunch more people whose roles I didn’t even get to hear about. Absent a fancy lighted stage display for keynotes, production value wise, I feel that PyCon is operating at the same level of quality as any of the O’Reilly conferences. The program was excellent – tutorials, keynotes, invited talks, regular talks, open spaces, and lightning talks.

PyCon 2009

With PyCon, the Python community is getting way more mileage out of its face to face time than any other open source community. The combination of lightning talks, open space, and sprints creates a powerful feedback loop within the conference proper, which then extends into the sprint days. This dynamic has evolved over the years as PyCon attendees have come to understand the role of these vehicles. Here’s how it works:

PyCon 2009

The lightning talks allow anyone, regardless of stature, influence, or reputation to get in front of the entire conference. People now recognize that some of the most interesting, surprising, and entertaining moments of PyCon take place during the lightning talks. It’s a measure of the influence of the lightning talks that even the 8AM morning lightning talk sessions were well attended. At other conferences the morning sessions are reserved for keynote presentations by paying sponsors. I usually skip these because the content value is low. But I definitely got up to make sure that I hit those 8AM lightning talks. If you’ve gotten in front of the community with a lightning talk, you can extend your reach by scheduling an open space session.

PyCon 2009

Above is a shot of the open space board for Saturday. Note that the time slots go from 10AM to 10PM. There were a few prank type sessions, but for the most part, that board really is full all day long with 10 rooms available during each one hour time slot. Consider that there were 4 ballrooms for the talks, and that the talks went from 10:20AM till 5PM. There was way more air time in the open space sessions, and people certainly made use of it. This is why PyCon is a working conference – it’s not only about transfer of information, real work gets done there.

PyCon 2009

The only tricky thing with open space is that it would be great to have electronic access to the contents of the open space board during the conference. That would help make the open spaces a first class citizen in the minds of attendees. This is an interesting problem, because part of the value of the open space is the physical board, so turning it all electronic wouldn’t be a good idea. I wonder if Kaliya Hamlin has an experience with this sort of thing.

Used well, the open space sessions are great for organizing your little (or big) slice of the world wide Python community. They are also great as a prelude to a sprint once the conference has finshed. And as I’ve already mentioned, the sprints are a great time to reinforce a project’s community as well as move it forward.

PyCon 2009

All of this notwithstanding, the PyCon organizers are not sitting on their laurels. They keep on looking for ways to improve the conference. The buckets you see above are an example of this. Instead of paper or electronic surveys, attendees were asked to vote for talks by taking a red chip and tossing it a bucket on their way out the door. Green for good, yellow for ‘meh’, and red for bad. This is way less effort than the surveys, and I observed a decent number of people putting in their chips. Doug Napoleone has more on the origins of this system, as well as a pointer to the raw data on the results.   

Twitter is now in the mainstream at PyCon. Guido mentioned Twitter during his keynote, and used it to ask questions during the conference. One of James Tauber’s first slides told people which hashtag to use when covering his talk. I’d guess that I got at least 20 new followers each day of PyCon, and I think that I might even be trained to use hashtags now. #pycon was in the top 10 Twitter during the days of the conference. The takeway is that if you are going to a conference and you are not on twitter, you are missing out. The corollary is that if you are a conference, and you aren’t making use of twitter, you need to pay attention. Ian Skerrett has an interesting post on how they used Twitter during EclipseCon. One thing that was missing was a video display of the search for #pycon. I know from talking with Doug Napoleone that he has some wonderful ideas for taking all the social networking stuff to the next level. I’m really looking forward to seeing that next year.

Photography

I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the last few years, always with a camera in hand. At each conference I shoot less and less. There are now lots of people swarming around with cameras, and I feel a bit done out with shots of people speaking from the front of a room, rows of white male attendees listening to a talk, and the rest of the usual conference shots. The same thing happpend with me and liveblogging conferences. Also, it’s hard to do the hallway track and do decent photography.   Last year, the PyCon organizers asked me to take some official pictures, which I was happy to do. This year they didn’t (which was fine by me), but I had planned to bring the camera anyway, because PyCon is PyCon, and photographing there is one way that I try to give back to the community.

It turns out that the organizers were way more organized about photography this year. They actually had someone to coordinate the photography for the conference. Steven Wilcox had a last minute emergency and couldn’t make it. I found out about all of this just a half an hour before I left for the airport. Steven had planned to do headshots of Pythonistas, and was planning to get studio lighting equipment and so on. All of that was now up in the air. Since I had done a bunch of headshots of ASF people at ApacheCon, I tossed some Strobist lighting gear into my suitcase, just in case. By the time I landed in O’Hare, Erich Heine had stepped up to replace Steven, and I joined the “Python Paparazzi” or “pyparazzi”, along with Erich, Jason Samsa, Dan Ryder, and St├ęphane Jolicoeur-Fidelia.

PyCon 2009

Since PyCon was in Chicago last year, I was familiar with the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is a decent hotel, but nothing to write home about. This year the conference proper moved to the Hyatt Regency down the street. PyCon has a tradition of trying to keep costs low in order to keep the conference accessible to the community, so I was expecting something like the Crowne Plaza. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Hyatt is a photographer’s paradise. There are lots of interesting colors, textures, and some areas with beautiful overhead natural light. If you were going to photograph a wedding, you would die for settings like these for the bridal portraits.

PyCon 2009

This tiled inset in wall turned into the backdrop for James Tauber’s headshot.

James Tauber

It doesn’t have to be strobe(ist) to be a good headshot!

PyCon 2009

This orange lit panel behind a bench seat turned into the backdrop for Jim Baker’s headshot.

Jim Baker

In addition to the pyparazzi, there were plenty of other cameras floating around the conference. Andy Smith decided to do a photographic project called the “Beards of Python“. When this set was announced on Flickr, it caused some Twitter buzzing amongst some of the female attendees of the conference. One thing about photographers is that we (or at least I) are always willing to take some interesting photos. So when the Twitter buzzing reached me, I offered to photograph any interested Geek Girls. James Duncan Davidson and I have discussed the value of trying to photograph female attendees at technology conferences. Since our photographs are often used for advertising, this can be a way of helping women feel more comfortable about attending — knowing that there will be other women there can be a help. So not only did I get to shoot more pictures of interesting people, I hope that in some small way this will contribute to making PyCon friendlier to women.

Catherine Devlin

This is Catherine Devlin, a contributor to sqlpython. Go read her post “Five minutes at PyCon change everything” for an actual example of the lightning talk/open space/sprint scenario that I described above.

The entire set of Pythonista headshots, as well as the rest of my conference coverage are up on Flickr. Who knows what we’ll come up with for next year in Atlanta…

Travel

Regular readers will know that a trip to PyCon traditionally involves some kind of travel mishap. This year was pretty minor compared to previous years.   United lost my luggage for the flight from Seattle to O’Hare, despite the fact that I arrived 2.5 hours early, and checked in at the “Premier” checkin line. I got my bag the next day, so it wasn’t really that bad. Maybe next year will be the PyCon with no travel glitches.


The PyCon Summits

This year at PyCon there are two new events, a Dynamic Language Virtual Machine Summit, and a Python Language Summit. Each summit lasted one day, and occurred during the tutorial program of the main PyCon conference. I am really happy to see these events happen, to take advantage of people all being in one place.

Dynamic Language Summit

The organizers of this summit invited a broad variety of virtual machine implementors to meet and discuss their successes and challenges in implementing various dynamic languages.   

Sun has hosted a similar summit for people implementing languages on the JVM, and Microsoft’s Lang.NET, which is their corresponding event for the CLR, is in a few weeks. There’s been a nice cross pollination of people between those summits. The PyCon event is the corresponding event for people working on non-JVM/CLR virtual machines. I would love to see all of these communities cross pollinating each other eventually.

The VM’s represented were CPython, PyPy, Jython, JRuby, Parrot, MLVM/Da Vinci Machine, IronPython, DLR, Factor, TraceMonkey, Cog, unladen_swallow, Rubinius, and MagLev. Since this was the first time this group of people met together, we spent the morning doing brief introductions of the various projects. From there the room exploded into a bunch of small unstructured discussions. There were many of these, and they are hard to summarize, so I am going to pass on trying to summarize this any further. I really would have liked to see representatives from PHP, Erlang, io, Newspeak, SquirrelFish, and V8.   

Disclosure: I was involved in getting Sun to sponsor this summit (and PyCon)

Python Language Summit

The Python Summit was focused on bringing together developers of Python implementations and the Python standard library in order to discuss issues of importance to Python.   Major scheduled topics included the roadmap for Python 2.x/3.x (including release scheduling), cross-implementation issues, and package distribution and installation.

During the 2.x/3.x section, there was some question about whether or not “batteries included” was still the right approach for the standard library or whether improvements to packaging mechanisms might lead to a different approach. Since packaging still has some major issues, there wasn’t a lot of progress on this front. There was also some discussion on the merits of using C++ in the Python compiler. Again not much of a conclusion here, but the majority of the thought in the room was to use a few C++ features as possible. There was also discussion of including some improvements to unittest.
The largest discussion during that section, was of course, the roadmap for 2.x versus 3.x, and how to encourage people to move from 2.x to 3.x. It looks like there is (good) reluctance to keep the 2.x series moving forward, so there may be a long (possibly infinitely long) gap between 2.7 and 2.8. At the same time, it seems clear that 3.1, which is currently in alpha, will be the first truly usable release in the 3.x line. The goal is to get 3.1 out pretty quickly and deprecate 3.0 – an odd and one time practice for the Python community. There was also a discussion of what could be done to help library and framework developers jump to 3.x. One concrete outcome was agreement to start work on a 3to2 tool which would allow developers to develop on 3.x and then backport to 2.x, thus helpoing developers to flipp their effort into (in my opinion) the correct release stream

The cross implementation session was uncontroversial and very friendly. One thing that I love about the Python community is the openness to alternate implementations of the language. Implementors of the alternate implementations were encouraged to just go and do what was needed to accommodate their needs. One item that came up was the utility of splitting the standard lib, the unit tests, and (perhaps) the docs, so that all implementations could reuse them. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea, so look for this to happen soon. Also, developers of the alternate implementations were given commit bits to CPython and told to make the necessary changes. One phrase that I heard during the discussion was “putting CPython on an equal footing with the other implementations”. Based on the decisions and actions during the session, I’d say this is way more than lip service.

The last planned session covered the issue of packaging. Tarek Ziade presented the results of his packaging survey. After that there were introductions of a few of the isolation tools, virtualenv, and zc.buildout. I’d never taken a serious look at zc.buildout, but Jacob Kaplan-Moss convinced me to take a serious look by showing a sample buildout file. Apparently the documentation for zc.buildout is sorely lacking, so if any readers are zc.buildout experts or fans, please leave a comment with pointers. From there, discussion went on to a very good list that Tarek assembled. You can read his final summary of the discussion as well as what should happen next.

unladen_swallow

One unscheduled item that got a lot of buzz was the unladen_swallow project. This is a branch of CPython (2.6 initially, but eventually forward ported to 3.x) initiated by people at Google, with the goal of improving CPython’s performance by 5X. A 5X speedup would be pretty amazing – the details of how they plan to accomplish this are in the project plan. Apparently it is already 30% faster than CPython, and this version is being used to run some of the Python code on YouTube. They have yet to embark on the task of integrating LLVM as JIT for Python. I am also happy to see that they are going to tackle removal of Python’s global interpreter lock (GIL). The team at Google is planning to merge their code back into the main CPython implementation, and have been discussing this in detail with the existing core Python developers. The unladen_swallow is focusing on Linux, but they told me that they would gladly accept community help for testing on Macintosh, Windows, and other platforms.

Ever since the Javascript engine arms race started earlier this year, I’ve been concerned about the lack of a similar situation in the various dynamic language communities. It appears that things in the Python world are starting to heat up.

On the whole, I found these two summits to be highly useful. I hope that the PyCon organizers will do them again.

Register for PyCon 2009

Registration is now open for PyCon US 2009. Like last year, PyCon is being held in Chicago, and the official program looks pretty good. As is true with all conferences, the unofficial program (the hallway track) is always great at PyCon. I am also going to make a concerted effort in the Open Spaces portion of the conference.

There will be a week of sprints held after the conference, so if you are looking to get involved with a Python project, those are a great opportunity to get a quick start while sitting side by side with some of the project developers.

I’ve gone to quite a number of conferences due to my job responsibilities over the last few years, and PyCon is definitely my favorite conference.

PyCon 2008

It’s been 2 years since I’ve been to PyCon, and things have definitely changed. The last time I went to PyCon (2006 in Dallas), it was still a relatively small conference (3-400), if I remember what I was told), with a familiar feel, especially if you had attended in previous years, or were a part of the Python community. This year, there were over 1000 people (double the 500 people that came in 2007, apparently). I spent a sizable portion of the conference days feeling like “I miss a year, and you guys go and get 1000 people”. It’s a great thing that so many people are interested in Python.

PyCon 2008: Day 1

The talks

I went to a reasonable number of talks – talk quality at PyCon has historically been pretty good, and I was a little out of date on the latest on things like Django and Turbogears. The best talk that I went to was Raymond Hettinger’s talk “Core Python Containers — Under the Hood”. This was a great talk for several reasons: Raymond was a good and entertaining speaker. There was significant technical meat – explanations of the implementation choices for all the core containers in Python, lists, sets, and dicts. We heard about doubling factors and amortized big-oh time. Most importantly, there was significant practical applications for Python programmers. Raymond’s talk gives a cost model for the core containers, and having an understanding of that model is important for folks who are writing Python programers. It’s also useful for developers of alternate Python implementations because it allows them to follow suit or to diverge and (hopefully) document the places where the cost model is different. My next favorite talk was Jim Baker’s “More Iterators in Action”. I missed the talk given last year, but I liked this one. Jim hit two of my favorite topics, language integrated query (LINQ) (albeit without the DSL), and concurrency.

Concurrency

There was a lot of interest in concurrency this year, which warms my heart, because I see high-level/dynamic languages and concurrency as the chocolate and peanut butter in the old Reese’s peanut butter cup commercials. There were 2 open space sessions and 1 lightning talk, and the topic entered many of the conversations that I had.

Sun, Jython, and JRuby

People were generally positive to learn about Sun’s interest in Python and Jython. A number of people stopped me to congratulate me on the new job, and we had a nice turnout at the open space session, where people were free with ideas, comments, and a few not so easy to answer questions. I hope that Sun can live up to the goodwill that people extended towards me and Frank.

If I was surprised about the jump in size of PyCon, I was even more surprised by the amount of energy around Jython. At most of the previous PyCon’s that I attended, people would mention Jython, and either be sorry that it was too out of date to consider, or be just plain dismissive of it. This year there was none of that. People were very interested in Jython. I was really surprised by how much interest there was, and by some of the people who were interested. It was certainly a nice feeling to sit in the sprint room and occasionally have people pop in to ask if such and such was running in Jython yet, or did Jython support X because package Y needed it.

This was the first time that I had met Frank Wierzbicki in person — I think he’s the happiest person at Sun right now. I was also able to spend some time hanging out with various folks from the Jython community. It seemed to me that the community was doing quite nicely. If you looked at some of the community metrics that we would use at the ASF to allow a project to graduate from incubation, almost all of those criteria have already been fulfilled. One of my goals for Sun’s Python efforts is for as many of them as possible to be highly community oriented, so it was nice to see that Jython is well on it’s way in that regard. The folks working on Jython are very sharp (including the aforementioned Jim Baker, who it turns out was a classmate of mine at the Brown CS dept – although neither of us can remember meeting the other), and have one of the those (in my mind) essential community ingredients, a community sense of humor.

PyCon 2008: Day 3

Jim snuck this bit of commentary on Jython’s lack of a global interpreter lock into his talk.

There were several Ruby related surprises at PyCon this year. David Heinemeier Hansson, create of Ruby on Rails, made an appearance for one day, and a number of the JRuby committers made a road trip down from Minnesota, to hang out, meet the Jython folks, and generally display their hacker prowess. Which they totally did. Charlie and Tom powered their way to JRuby 1.1RC3 during the conference. Meanwhile Nick Sieger demonstrated what a happens when you stick a bunch of hackers, an EVDO card, and an EVDO hub into a car. The Jython guys (if any of them lived in the same state) need to get some of that – The best thing since the Adobe AIR Bus Tour, and at a fraction of the cost.. The JRuby folks and Jython folks are already starting to talk and share experiences, and I am sure that this will only result in even better dynamic language stuff for the JVM.

Other Cool stuff

On one of the sprint days, I did a bit of wandering and stopped to talk to my friend Brian Dorsey, who is doing some cool stuff here in Seattle. Brian was working with Richard Jones on pyglet and Bruce. Pyglet is a set of Python libraries for writing games and doing other kinds of multimedia. There’s pygame, which I am aware of because of Armin Rigo’s infamous use of pygame to deliver talks about PyPy. Richard has created Bruce, a presentation tool based on pyglet. In addition to being able to do cool multimedia presentation effects, there are some really cool things that you can do. Perhaps the coolest is that you can have a slide which is essentially an embeddd Python interpreter, so no more switching out of your presentation to demo your Python code at work. Really slick.

On a different note, on several evenings, conference goers who stuck around to hang out in the hotel’s common area were treated to musical performances by a dynamic (as in constantly changing set of members) band of Pythonistas:

PyCon 2008: Day 2

PyCon 2008: Day 2

The Sprints

Perhaps the most amazing way in which the conference has changed is this picture.

PyCon 2008: Sprints

That is a picture of a part of the lunch crowd on the first day of the sprints following the conference. When I talked to David Goodger about it, he said that he had taken a count and there were over 250 people at the sprints. Visually, that sprint lunch room looked to be about the size of the room for the first PyCon that I attended (PyCon 2004). Simply amazing. The ASF has a hackathon before every ApacheCon, but I can’t remember one ever reaching this kind of size or scale. Another thing about the PyCon sprints is that they are aimed at growing the community — you don’t have to be a committer on any project in order to attend, and experienced project members will take time to sit and help new people get started. There were several people like that in the Jython sprint room. I was more impressed by what happened with the sprints than any other part of the conference. The only central organization here was that the conference planners obtained sprint space, and in a few cases got some sponsors to cough up money for lunch. Everything else was organized by the projects themselves (I heard that the Django folks closed 100 bugs in a single day). If you want to get a sense of what kinds of things got accomplished at the sprints, you can look at this page on the wiki — it’s not exhaustive, but it’s a start.

Travel

In the past, I’ve had some travel nightmares getting home from PyCon. This year I am happy to report that I didn’t have any problems at all, except for a fight that I had with the Sun internal travel system (and lost).

Conclusion

It was great to be back at PyCon. Interest in Python is growing (as measured by attendance), as is interest in Jython, and interested people are also rolling up their sleeves and pitching in (as measured by sprint attendance growth).

PyCon: Open Space with Sun folks

For those of you at PyCon, Frank Wierzbicki and I will be hosting an open space session on Saturday (tomorrow) at 2pm for people to come and tell us what they think Sun should do in the Python space. We are definitely interested in input and feedback from the larger Python community. If you aren’t at PyCon but have ideas, you can drop either of us e-mail. Our Sun e-mail addresses are <firstname>.<lastname>@sun.com.

Watch out for my camera at Pycon

David Goodger asked if I would take some photographs for the conference while I was at PyCon, to which I happily agreed. So fair warning that if you come near my camera, you may end up in my Flickr stream.

Update: PyCon pictures will be tagged “pycon2008″

No PyCon for me…

I won’t be making it to PyCon this year, breaking my three year streak. But at least I won’t have a horrendous getting home from PyCon story this year. In fact, very few people from OSAF will be attending this year. We’ve been planning to do an end-user oriented “Preview” release of Chandler and Cosmo for sometime this spring, and a number of us decided that the best thing that we could do was to stay focused on getting that release done. So while I won’t miss Dallas/Addison, I definitely will miss the chance to connect with folks from all over the Python community. I fully expect to be at OSCON this summer, and back at PyCon in 2008.