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PyCon US 2013 Wrap Up: Ambitions and results

March 25, 2013

I have definitely never been so ambitious about a conference ever before, and to a large extent this as came out nicely. In fact in my huge list of ambitions I only failed in one thing.

The presentation

hovercraft_logoI wanted to use impress.js for my presentation. But already in September it was clear to me that I didn’t want to write the HTML directly, as I did when preparing an earlier version of the talk for PyCon PL. I wanted to use ReStructuredText. And I wanted to position the slides somewhat automatically. This ambition lead to the following for goals:

  1. Create a presentation software that uses ReStructuredText to generate impress.js-style presentations.
  2. Create a library to handle SVG paths.
  3. Update Pyroma so tests run on Python 3.3, so I can use it on the software I make.
  4. Update my talk to use ReStructuredText, and make the slides more useful by themselves.

All of these goals were fulfilled.

  1. The presentation software is called Hovercraft! and 1.0 was released the 22nd of February. Three main presentations and one lightning talk used Hovercraft! during PyCon, which I declare a success!
  2. The SVG path library that Hovercraft! uses for it’s most complicated and likely least useful feature: Positioning along SVG Paths, is called, unsurprisingly svg.path.
  3. Pyroma was updated for Python 3.3. It also got some cleanup and now installs hooks for zest.releaser, so it will run Pyroma on the package before releasing.
  4. I updated my talk to use ReStructuredText, and it now has better slides. It also available on video.

If you really want to see somebody use Hovercraft! in a useful way, check out Chris Withers talk “Things to make writing tests easier“, where he is using the pan and zoom features to increased pedagogical effect, which is absolutely awesome! Look for example at 5 minutes into the talk.


I have also the last few months been writing a Python Enhancement Proposal on getting full time zone support into Python 3.4. It was important to get that PEP reasonably finished before PyCon, as I intended to implement it during the sprints. The idea here was that I would more or less merge pytz into the standard library, with just a bit of refactoring. And this is the ambition that I failed to achieve. Mostly the failure is related to the way pytz works around some limitations in the datetime library. Since we are now enhancing the datetime library, we don’t want to work around those limitations, but we want to instead fix them. Doing that the simple way turned out to be impossible, and the result is instead that timezone support needs to be more or less reimplemented from scratch. The three days I was sprinting ended up with me diving deep into both pytz and also, comparing them and deciding what needed to be done, so that I now have a plan.

An implementation of the time zone support for Python 3.4 will therefore have to wait a bit, although I still aim to have it done by the first Python 3.4 alpha, which is planned for August.

The book

BFlvouoCAAA-DhV.jpg:largeNow, doing a good presentation and implementing a PEP are reasonable goals for a PyCon, even if it’s a bit over the top to have to write your own presentation tool for it. But I didn’t stop there, oh no! I also decided to update my book on Porting to Python 3. So both leading up to and during the conference I would sit and go through the changes needed to update it for Python 3.3, and on Sunday of the conference I released the second edition of the book! I had hoped to do the release during a lightning talk but competition for those were so tight that it was practically impossible to get them. So I released it during a countdown in the green room instead, with the event captured by David Kua.

The book is now 14 pages longer, includes examples for Unicode-aware sorting and how to deal with the changes in the CSV API and many minor improvements. It is currently only available as HTML, but I hope to get time to make PDF versions in the near future. Perhaps it will even be available in paper again. Only time will tell.

The Plone RV

IMG_20130316_181727The last ambition of mine was to also have fun! This was made much easier thanks to the Plone Community having a strong presence on this years PyCon. This was to a large extent thanks to the amazing Spanky and Liz, who not only manned a Plone booth in the expo hall and held a Plone poster session, but also rented an RV, so that us Plonistas could avoid the amazingly boring Santa Clara (the conference center was great, but it is a mile long walk even to the closest restaurant) and instead go into San Francisco every night, and back to PyCon in the morning!

This impeded on my contributing to evening activities such as the Porting to Python 3 clinic, and evening sprinting, but on the other hand, the trips in the RV were a hoot. I’ll probably opt for a hotel room in the future anyway, they are warmer, and it’s less competition for the shower.

From → python

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