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My Time At PyCon

Tue 07 April 2009

I tried to write a conference wrap-up, but there's just too much.  Besides, Ted Leung already wrote a better one than I could.  (I'm pleased to note that the first talk he mentions is the only Twisted talk at the conference: "Twisted AMQP and Thrift".  Go Esteve!)

I am once again impressed by the conference organizers.  Every year it seems like the conference gets better.  This year, it seemed like nothing went wrong - which wouldn't be remarkable if I didn't know just how difficult it is to create that impression.  I registered for the conference online, reserved my hotel room through the housing committee, and when I showed up everything was ready.  The food was good, all of the staff were helpful and efficient.  There was plenty of room for everything, even though the Open Space board was completely packed.

The video was particularly awesome.  I didn't get to see many talks, as I was moving from one conversation to another in the hallways, but I was impressed to discover that some of the talks I was hearing about during the conference were already online so I could catch up on the buzz.  The camera work and editing are really good.  I particularly liked that they often used picture-in-picture to show both the presenter and their slide.  But, you don't have to take my word for it; check them out now on pycon.blip.tv.

My personal experience of the conference is of course defined by hallway chats, open spaces and sprints.  This year we had a great Twisted open space, followed by a great Twisted Web open space the next day.  Thank you to everyone who came.

These sessions helped to reinforce for me the need to repeat this frequently for our users: if Twisted is doing something which confuses you but seems wrong, please go ahead and file a bug on twistedmatrix.com.  If you're wrong, and Twisted is working properly, there's still a bug, it's just a bug in the documentation.  If the documentation were perfect presumably you would understand why it's doing what it's doing.  Even if we ultimately decide that the documentation is sufficient, by adding a bug in a tracker, you've told Google that people with your question should find the document we refer to in our comments, so there's still value.

The sprints also went really smoothly this year.  Power and wifi were in abundance, so we could all just get to work.  I'll tell you a secret, though: I never plan to get much work done at the PyCon sprint, especially with monthly Twisted sprints here in Boston.  The value in this nation-wide gathering is in helping new users get up to speed with hacking on Twisted, and in running around talking to people sprinting on other projects, getting them to integrate with Twisted.  This year I had a pretty focused message that I wanted to get out: Twisted is a WSGI container, and it's one you can invoke from the command line with "twistd web --wsgi=your.application.here".  In other words, even if you prefer to write synchronous, blocking code, you can still use Twisted to run your web application, and you don't need to write any additional code to do it.  As a result of this communication, David Reid fixed a few minor bugs in our WSGI container and Twisted trunk now runs Django as well as Pinax.  I hope that this will drive even more adoption of Twisted in the Python world.

Also, it seems like for the last few years I've gotten started thinking about PyCon talks too late, and by the time the deadline rolls around I've got nothing.  In fact it seems like this has happened to most Twisted devs over the last few years.  This year I plan to get started right now.  I hope you'll join me, so that we can have a "Twisted comeback tour" at PyCon 2010.

One last thing: at least three people approached me at various points during the conference to ask me about using Mantissa and Axiom, and I didn't have a chance to catch up with any of them.  I feel bad about this.  If you tried to talk to me about using some Divmod technology at pycon, and still want to talk about it, please feel free to send me a personal email; we can set up a Skype session or something.