Last night, we had our May 2010 Pyowa meeting. It is the only Python Users Group in Iowa and we welcome anyone who is programming in Python (or interested in learning Python) to come and be a part of our group. At this meeting, we had three good presentations. The first was given by Jim and his topic was web scraping. He uses a combination of Mechanize and lxml to scrape the Ames City website for archival purposes on one of his own websites.

Mechanize allows Jim to impersonate a browser and navigate a website. It can fill in forms, login with your supplied credentials, etc. He then uses lxml to parse the pages he wants and if he needs to download something, he just uses os.system in conjunction with wget. The beautiful soup library was also mentioned, but Jim didn’t use it. One of our other members said that their organization did use beautiful soup for a while and was pleased with the results.

Our next two presentations were given by a fellow named Kevin. He spoke on the Mercurial distributed version control system and Trac, a web-based issue tracker. Kevin walked us through how to set up a Mercurial repository, add files, branch, update, merge and more. He did all this using virtualenv, a handy way to isolate projects. After completing the Mercurial talk, Kevin showed us how to set up Trac with his Mercurial repository, add tickets, commit fixes to the tickets from within Mercurial, and various administration tools that are included with Trac. Kevin also highlighted some of the Trac and Mercurial plugins that he liked.

If you would like to come to our next meeting, it will be held at the same location, the Ames Public Library in Ames, IA on June 3rd, which is a Thursday. If you would like to share your experiences with Python or one of its many projects, that would be great! Please email me at mike at pythonlibrary dot org so we can get you scheduled. Watch our website for the most up-to-date information.

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