PyWorks Wrap-up

The first annual PyWorks conference has just wrapped up, and it was by all accounts a big success. We had a great time socializing, learning about new tools, and catching up on the progress made by established projects. The Atlanta weather was unusually wet, but that didn’t stop some of us from heading off site to attend the local Python user group meeting, too. All in all, it was a fun and productive three days.

One of the unusual features of PyWorks was that it was part of a combined conference. We shared space, attendees, and session speakers with php|works, the PHP conference also hosted by MTA. This allowed us to hold some interesting combined sessions on topics useful to both PHP and Python developers, including an introduction to git, tutorials and presentations on administering databases, designing security into your applications, and many more. It was good to have exposure to another coding culture, and I had an informative conversation with a few of the PHP core developers about how their development practices tend to differ from the BDFL model used for Python core development.

Kevin Dangoor, founder of the TurboGears project, gave the opening keynote, entitled Growing Your Community. He covered reasons for attracting more users and contributors to your project, and tips to help you accomplish it. Our very own Brandon Rhodes presented an excellent Grok tutorial that has convinced me to give Zope another try after a five-year hiatus. Another of our editors, Jesse Noller, showed the work he has been doing to integrate the ‘’multiprocessing’’ module into Python’s standard library. Mark Ramm’s presentation on WSGI middleware included somewhat creative visual aids (ask him about it at PyCon). There were presentations on most of the major web frameworks, desktop applications, the Sphinx documentation system, artificial intelligence, systems administration, and more. The breadth of topics presented meshed well with the varied interests of the attendees.

PyWorks in November and PyCon in March are very different types of conferences. For one thing, the attendance level at PyCon was much larger. That can be a great benefit for attendees, because it means there are more opportunities to meet people and a wider variety of presentations to choose from over the course of the week. On the other hand, while the numbers for PyWorks were lower, that made the sessions more intimate. It was easier to ask questions and interact with the presenters and other members of the audience. It felt a little more like the open spaces session at PyCon.

Another way it was different, of course, was the fact that it was combined with php|works. We had good feedback from conference-goers about the format, along with a few suggestions to make it even better next year. For example, one aspect of the Python community culture that PHP developers aren’t familiar with is sprinting. There was a TurboGears sprint in Atlanta the weekend after PyWorks, but we didn’t know about it in time to really integrate it with the the conference. Another thing we need to do is make sure we have a good cross-section of Python programmers represented. Many projects were well represented, especially Grok and TurboGears, but we can do better about extending invitations into other sub-groups within the Python community.

Looking Ahead

As a print publication, we always try to plan ahead to make sure we have plenty of interesting articles and columns ready for upcoming issues. We’ve been doing this ourselves for the past year, and so far the feedback has been positive. Your input is always valuable, though, if for no other reason than the small number of editors here can’t match the entire community for sheer creativity. So we want you to tell us, what exactly do you want to get out of your subscription? What should we be doing that we aren’t? What topics or segments of the community have we missed? How can we make the magazine even more useful to you? Post a comment below and let me know what you think!

Originally published in Python Magazine Volume 2 Issue 12 , December, 2008