Python 2017 – Second Day

The second day of the PyCon 2017 conference was kicked off by breakfast with people from NASA and Pixar, among others, followed by several lightning talks. I didn’t see them all, but they were kind of fun. Then they moved on to the day’s first keynote by Lisa Guo & Hui Ding from Instagram. I hadn’t realized that they used Django and Python as their core technology.

They spoke on how they transitioned from Django 1.3 to 1.8 and Python 2 to 3. It was a really interesting talk and had a pretty deep dive into how they use Python at Instagram. It’s really neat to see Python being able to scale to several hundred million users. If I remember correctly, they also mentioned that Python 3 saved them 30% in memory utilization as compared with Python 2 along with a 12% boost in CPU utilization. They also mentioned that when they did their conversion, they did in the main branch by making it compatible with both Python 2 and 3 while continually releasing product to their users. You can see the video on Youtube:

The next keynote was done by Katy Huff, a nuclear engineer. While I personally didn’t find it as interesting as the Instagram one, it was fun to see how Python is being used in so many scientific communities and in so many disparate ways. If you’re interested, you watch the keynote here:

After that, I went to my first talk of the day which was Debugging in Python 3.6: Better, Faster, Stronger by Elizaveta Shashkova who works for the PyCharm team. Her talk focused on the new frame evaluation API that was introduced to CPython in PEP 523 and how it can make debugging easier and faster, albeit with a longer lead time to set up. Here’s the video:

Next up was Static Types for Python by Jukka Lehtosalo and David Fisher from the Dropbox team. They discussed how to use MyPy to introduce static typing using a live code demo as well as how they used it at Dropbox to add typing to 700,000 lines of code. I thought it was fascinating, even though I really enjoy Python’s dynamic nature. I can see this as a good way to enforce docstrings as well as make them more readable. Here’s the video:

After lunch, I went to an Open Space room about Python 201, which ended up being about what problems people face when they are trying to learn Python. It was really interesting and gave me many new insights into what people without a background in computer science are facing.

I attempted my own open space on wxPython, but somehow the room was commandeered by a group of people talking about drones and as far as I could tell, no one showed up to talk about wxPython. Disappointing, but whatever. I got to work on a fun wxPython project while I waited.

The last talk I attended was one given by Jean-Baptiste Aviat entitled Writing a C Python extension in 2017. He mentioned several different ways to interact with C/C++ with Python such as ctypes, cffi, Cython, and SWIG. His choice was ctypes. He was a bit hard to understand, so I highly recommend watching the video yourself to see what you think:

My other highlights were just random encounters in the hallways or at lunch where I got to meet other interesting people using Python.

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