Thursday, 17 March 2011

PyCon 2011 - Hopefully The First Of Many

Well, PyCon is over and it's back to life, back to reality (back to the hear and noooooooooooow, oh yeah). Before it all becomes a distant memory I thought I'd put down a few words in writing to record my first impressions of the event.

As a bit of background this was my first visit to the US and also my first Python conference. I've been watching the videos online for at least the last 3 years and have wanted to attend the last 2 conferences. I finally made it this year mainly due to the dates not falling on any critical family birthdays - yes, that'd be you Ollie ;-)

PyCon 2011 was a truly rewarding experience. There nothing quite like getting to rub shoulders with the greats of the Python world (and very frequently bump into them in the lift)! I met a nice bunch of people and forged new friendships. What strikes me most about my time there is how friendly everyone was. It is an amazing feeling to be part of such a community and a flourishing one at that. Seeing other people leveraging Python to literally change the world is mind blowing and a great inspiration for me to go out and do the same. It's as close as you can get to a religious experience ;-) It just helps to cement the feeling that doing Python is the right thing and that it is very much a technology for "getting things done", quickly and efficiently. As a good friend Tim Couper asserts, it is the perfect match for Agile development.

The biggest revelation for me at the conference was the fact that I've been using Dropbox for the last two years and I didn't have a clue that it was built entirely on Python (both on the client and server side). Awesome work guys, keep up the good work!

I have been following the progress of PyPy since I started using Python and even more closely after watching Maciej's talk on it last year. It was extremely pleasing to see the team receive the recognition they wholly deserve from the PSF in the form of funding for the next year's work. This is surely a big step forward for Python. Go PyPy!

One of the many great experiences of PyCon for me was the Lightning Talk sessions. Concise, extremely funny and wholely informative, these are a great part of an already impressive offering. Witty presentations are great because it's so easy to bore your audience to death with page after page of bullet points. The quality of the presenting for the most part was excellent and there was good tips to be had from attending on how to present well to an audience. Most of the time I felt like a kid in a candy store with a limited amount of money to spend. On several occasions I found myself wanting to go to 3 or 4 out of the 5 talks within the same time slot. Being spoilt for choice is a very good thing in my book and I can't wait for the videos to be posted on online. I'm going to be spending a good while catching up on all the talks I missed out on. The long thin tail of the PyCon experience!

The only real disappointment was having to leave on Sunday and miss out on the sprints. I'm going to try and factor in at least a couple of sprint days into my next PyCon (Santa Clara here we come).

In closing I'd like to send out a big shout to the PyCon organisers and a very special thanks to Steve Holden (lovely chap), for his stewardship and navigation of the PSF through very difficult waters in recent years. Keep up the good work!

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