This week we welcome Gabriel Pettier (@tshirtman) as our PyDev of the Week. He is a core developer of the Kivy project and he writes a pretty interesting blog. Let’s spend some time getting to know our fellow Pythonista better!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
I’m a Developer living in Paris, France, I’m known on the web/internet as tshirtman⁰, i’ve studied CS first for 2 years at a technology school in Valence (France), then after working 2 years in the industry, decided to go back to school and do the 3 remaining years for a CS engineering degree. Getting back to school was quite an adventure, but it’s been rewarding for a lot of reasons. I’ve had various hobbies, drawing, playing guitar, reading, a lot, These days it’s mostly computers, and reading books when I manage to get the head out of my screens (and then I still read on screens these days, ebooks are fantastic). As you can see, rambling is also one of my hobbies.
Why did you start using Python?
I discovered python through a very little book presenting the basics of it when i was in my first year of CS studies, where we studied Ada, C, and other things. I also had done a lot of BASIC for a number of years, and some C with OpenGL at that point, but I had never seen something quite like Python. I quickly fell in love with it for its very neat syntax, the “indentation is syntax” thing hit me as a genius move, and i’m still in awe that so few languages¹ follow this. Also, the simplicity and unobtrusiveness was something i hadn’t quite seen since Basic, here without the high price of lack of maintainability and lack of power that came with it.
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
As most computer scientists, i encountered C quite early, and did quite some of it, but i mostly learned that behind its simple appearance, it was a complicated beast ready to hit you the second you looked away. I used some Java, some C++, of course, the usual suspects for web development, html/css/js² (quite a weird set of technologies, if you ask me), i looked at Haskell, which i find to be very interesting, but I lacked the time to really dive into it and do anything serious with it, though it has similarities with Python, and seem to solve a few of the actual issues that python has (type checking, parallelism) even better than most other available technologies. Python is of course my favorite language, as it should 🙂 (if it wasn’t i’m pretty sure haskell would be my favorite).
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on object interactions on multi touch tables using a product³ we developed at my company, currently developing scenarios for musical interaction and data visualisation, there is both a lot on UX work to design how people interact with augmented objects, as well as very nice technical challenges to make our solutions flexible and extensible by 3rd parties. Python helps tremendously by making the complex easy, and the impossible possible.
Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?
I’m a little biased here, being a kivy core dev, most of my work is based on it, and it’s a real pleasure to be able to custom-design interfaces with it so quickly, enjoy portability and ability to hack any feature I need with it, because of a so open design.
Out of that, I can say I love Flask, being my go-to framework when I need to hack together a simple website, it’s become quite a mature and full-featured framework over the years, although I don’t do a lot of web development, it’s something I feel confident putting up and having my form done and online in a matter of hours rather than days.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to encourage people getting themselves into open source projects, giving a hand to the tool you are using and loving, will change a nice experience into a real life adventure, and you’ll learn *tons*⁴ of things, both on the technical side and the human one, it’ll give you incredible opportunities, and you’ll share something awesome with others. Oh, and read books, lots of books :).
Thanks so much!
⁰ I wear tshirts, duh, all year long, ’nuff said 🙂
¹ little game for the arcane languages fans out there, find languages that do!
² gasp, I nearly forgot that i know some PHP, but same as (and worse than) C, I know enough to know that i don’t want to mess too much — or at all — with it, best, i’d gladly forget everything i know about it.
³ why, yes, look at http://www.tangibledisplay.com/en/#solutions
⁴ yes, metric ones, there is no other kind, really.
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