PyCon 2008 (Chicago) – Day 1 (part one)

The first day of PyCon (not including the Tutorial Day) took place on March 14, 2008.  I finally got to see the BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), Guido van Rossum. While I knew he was from the Netherlands, I hadn’t really thought of him with a Swiss-like accent. It was cool! He was mostly interesting as well as he described the next iterations of Python; namely the concurrent release of 2.6 and 3.0. He hopes to have them released in August, 2008.

Before Guido though, there was a guy by the name of Chris Hagner of White Oak Technologies spoke on “Why Python Sucks (but works for us)” or something like that. Anyway, he pointed out Python’s weaknesses and then showed how they have been used to their advantage. The disadvantages that Hagner had were:

  • low number of Python developers
  • few organizations have Python solutions (which makes them somewhat nervous to try something new)
  • Python “weirdness”
  • Python is slow

He addressed each of these, but my notes are incomplete so I’ll just talk about the highlights. The fact that there are relatively few Python developers did not dissuade his company because the Python programmers he talked to were usually of much higher quality than those from other languages. He used the “rarity” of Python solutions as a selling point: “Hey! We have something different.” This also applied to the “weirdness” factor to some degree. Finally, the slow part of Python wasn’t a problem for what they do most of the time and it made them that much more aware of testing and optimizing or writing C/C++ extensions for those “slow” bits.

I’ll write about the talks I attended next time.