May 12, 2016

Notes from PyCon Sweden 2016

Robin Andeer

I’m attending PyCon Sweden for a second year. The conference gathers Python developers across Sweden and abroad. The organizers are doing a great job of attracting impressive speakers. This years roster include; Armin “mitsuhiko” Ronacher (Flask, Click, Sentry), Jessica McKellar (Python Software Foundation, Twisted) among others.

Armin Ronacher

Talks

The conference got off to a rocky start when the first keynote speaker couldn’t make it to her slot. Instead, Armin saved the day by giving an impromptu talk on the “Happiness in Open Source”. I liked listening to his origin story. He also talked about how to stay motivated as a maintainer of open source software. GitHub has increased exposure and brought a lot of complaints from users that might not have picked the tools in the first place.

Open source works a little like Tinder (Armin Ronacher, 2016)

I really enjoyed Henrik Blidh’s talk on “Pointless Projects”. Keen to point out that “pointless” ≠ “worthless”, he listed an impressive number of (more or less pointless) tools he’d built and the (beneficial) spinoffs they’ve generated. And not to forget; experience wink

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Ronachers’s main talk centered around the “central dogma” in modern web development: commit arrow_right review arrow_right integration arrow_right deploy. A few recommendations include:

  • sanity linting early using git hooks
  • open pull requests for everything
  • make heavy use and trust continuous integration tools
  • have a plan for quickly rolling back updates

Delayed keynote speaker, Jessica McKellar got the last word of the conference. Clocking in at ~20 min, she didn’t waste any time! Her inspiring talk about how software and open source can make a change in society was well received. As a diversity spokesperson she also talked about how important it is to work hard to reach out to a versatile set of speaker when organizing a conference. Let’s pull together for a concerted effort to encourage more than a single female speaker at PyCon Sweden 2017!

Trends

Last year, the drinking game was when anyone mentioned Docker. This time around nothing stood out as clearly. However, the lack of Python specific talks was rather apparent. Many interesting topics could’ve just as easily been covered in other conferences; HTTP/2, Let’s Encrypt, Tensorflow, performance testing of web apps, etc.

PyCon 2017 and beyond

The organizers finally shared some thought on the future of PyCon Sweden. I agree that it would be a good idea to emphasize the “Sweden” part in the conference. At this point it could be called “PyCon Stockholm”. Getting more people involved and hosting it in different cities would be great developments.

Conclusion

I was happy to attend PyCon also this year. It offers a welcome break and I always pick up something to get inspired by or a different approach to a known problem. We in academia have a lot to catching up to do compared to the modern technology companies that dominate the developer community. Continuous development, micro services, and cloud platforms are unfortunately still only on the drawing boards.

Finally, I’d like to extend a big thanks to the organizing crew for doing an awesome job!