PyDev of the Week: Georg Brandl

This week we welcome Georg Brandl (@birkenfeld) as our PyDev of the Week. Georg is a core developer of the Python language and has been for over 10 years. He is also a part of the Pocoo team. You can see what projects get him excited by checking out his Github profile. Let’s take a few moments to learn more about him!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I studied physics and during my PhD project was working at a large German research center, where software is a big part of conducting research, and external scientists come and use our facilitiy for their own experiments. Meanwhile I’m still at the same place, but working on that software as my main job. We’re using Python extensively, basically giving our guests a highly fancified Python shell as the main user interface.

Why did you start using Python?

I was near the end of high school and looking for something new after getting tired of Windows and working with the early .NET and PHP. Somehow the simplicity and the friendly community were very appealing. It was the time when everybody started writing Wikis, so I developed my own in Python and got something working faster than I thought possible. I started contributing to the CPython project itself quickly, and became a core developer about 10 years ago.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

As a CPython developer, I got to know C pretty well, and although I often wish I hadn’t. It’s necessary and helpful quite often (especially since I’m working in a heavily Unix-oriented environment where .NET and Java codebases are few and far between). The situation is reversed with Haskell: I learned it a while ago and loved its concepts and beauty, but never got to use it anywhere really. (That’s probably a good thing because it didn’t ruin the beauty with messy day-to-day details.)

Recently I got interested in Rust, and love it because it combines a lot of the beautiful concepts of Haskell with the pragmatic choices of Python, and has the static typing that every programmer working on large Python codebases dreams of at least every now and then. It’s still a young language, but I think it can complement Python (still my favorite) very well.

What projects are you working on now?

My open-source time right now is pretty limited, but I try to continue helping development along in my projects — CPython, Sphinx, Pygments mainly. Especially for Sphinx, which was on my shoulders alone for a long time, I am very happy that for a few years now we have an active maintenance team.

Which Python libraries are your favorite (core or 3rd party)?

I’ll have to say I love the whole scientific ecosystem, and I’d like to highlight numpy in particular; these guys are doing amazing work and numpy often is just taken for granted. Also Matplotlib, not so much because of visibility but because it has been invaluable for me during my scientific career. Finally, I love pytest and its plugins for writing test suites quickly and with minimal tedium.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Like probably a lot of other core developers I’d like to invite everyone to see if they’d be interested in “giving back” (really, learning a whole lot while contributing to Python). Come by the core-mentorship list or on IRC, and we’ll be happy to chat and work with you! When we switch to Git/Github later this year, it’ll be even easier 🙂

Thanks for doing the interview!