EuroPython 2008, Day 3

Day 3 of EuroPython continued with the same intensity as the previous two days. The talks I attended on Wednesday were:

A great ”Python in Action” advocacy talk on leveraging Python in a real
application for forest management.

This session was a summary of the current and planned PyPy activities and roadmap. The part that really caught my attention (apart from the PyPy activity itself) was the level of EU government s ponsorship and funding of open source development. We really don’t see that in the US. Or, maybe I just haven’t been looking….

Mike is using Amazon EC2 with Python to perform compute intensive DNA analysis. He has developed runblast to make EC2 more accessible to ordinary humans. The talk also went into some cool details about SNPedia and promethease.

Andreas described the problems at DLR with managing large scientific datasets. They looked at commercial data management systems, and found them to be expensive and top heavy with useless features.Also the tools uses proprietary or unusable scripting functionality. As a result, they decided to build their own. They develped a prototype in Java, but had problems with platform support (write once, debug everywhere ? ) However, the users liked the embedded Jython capabilities in the original protptype and requested a Python solution. This resulted in a final implementation using Python. Key reasons for using Python at DLR were : easy to learn, rapid development, inherently maintainable.

The last block of sessions for the day was the only time in the conference where I really had trouble making a decision betwwen talks. I opted for Jack Diederich’s Class Decorators: Radically Simple, which meant I missed Gasper
Zejn’s Managing Computing Clouds on Unreliable Nodes with Python

As for class decorators, it’s just one more reason for me to start using Python 2.6 / 3.0. Jack wrote the reference implementation for PEP3129, and this talk really did radically simplify the use cases for class decorators.

The Lightning talks for Wednesday covered a lot of ground and, as usual, I learned a few new tricks.

One library I never knew about was Stefan Swarzer’s ftputil, which implements a high level API for ftp. This is essentially a virtual filesystem which implements os and os.path functionality.

There was also a lightning talk on using Restructured Text and docutils to generate S5 presentations. I started using this tool chain a couple of months ago, and I’m really beginning to like it. One text file can generate slides and printed documentation which work in any web browser. It’s really useful for notes, tutorials, and other basic presentations. This is not really the tool for slick, animated, whiz bang stuff, but I rarely do those type of presentations.

Inspired by Hans Rosling’s keynote, I also did a lightning talk on public data.

After three days, I have concluded that the EuroPython community is really not all that different to the community in the US (despite comments I’ve heard to the contrary.)

The EuroPython conference had fewer Django specific users than PyCon, but there was definitely a surge in Django related attendance at PyCon 2008. That affect might continue next year at Euro Python (which will be in Birmingham, UK.) On the other hand, there were way more Zope/Plone developers at EuroPython. It’s not clear to me whether this is because Zope is more popular in Europe, or because there’s more overlap of the communities Europe. I suspect its a combination of both.

EuroPython 2008 was definitely worth the trip.


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