I am really excited to go to PyCon for the first time. This is some notes about what happened in this 3 day conference in Washington D.C.
PyCon2005 starts with a keynote from Jim Hugunin from Microsoft, who started the IronPython project that ports Python on Microsoft's .NET platform.
Coming from Microsoft automatically put one into defensive when confronted with the non-Microsoft community. Jim certainly knows when to crack Microsoft jokes and what to say when a demo crash. Putting this aside he did delivered some great demos and made a strong case about the value of python on .NET platform. On the other hand I can't help thinking about how much ill will and negative publicity Microsoft has created.
The next interesting session is Holger Krekel talking about a novel testing tool py.test. He find the JUnit inspired unittest.py clumsy to use. With his test tool, user create test cases just using the assert statement, instead of the function call based unittest module, which he find quite clumsy. He then done some clever analysis when there is exception and generate an informative report.
He then went on to show another tool that bring a twist to RPC. Instead of the usual approach of transferring the objects to the remote host, he simply creates a two way channel and let the local and remote code communicates in their own way. Smart tool! Unfortunately the website http://codespeak.net/py seems to be down throughout the conference.
Next session Grig Gheorghiu cover a lot of ground about agile testing. He touches on various tools and the XP principles. Finally he demonstrated using wiki to let customers design test cases and provide instant testing and feedback. Don't you think all software should some have something like that? Check out FitNesse and Selenium.
I really love the PyWebOff presentation Michelle Levesque gave in the afternoon. She hit the nail on the head that having far too many web application frameworks in Python causes great confusion to the users. It was a fabulous and very entertaining presentation. The message is clear, users need a clear guidance on what framework to use given certain requirements.
Ian Bicking's talk about WSGI is exactly an effort to bring order to chaos about the proliferation the frameworks. While it is good to define a standard interface between certain layers, it is less clear to me if this effort would weed out the number of frameworks, at least not in the short run.
I think Python is missing the opportunity to establish itself as a premier web development platform due to these issues. Otherwise it could easily double or triple its user base. Instead it is losing market to some less capable tools like PHP. I was so passionate about this problem that I have spent most of the afternoon discussing this in open sessions rather than attending talks.
2005.03.23 comments -