PyCon 2017 – First Day Impressions

This is my first PyCon in 6 years. My last being in Atlanta. This year, PyCon is in Portland, OR. My first conference day I managed to miss the morning talks due to rooms getting overly full. So I ended up on the hallway track instead and got to speak with various members of the Python community. For example, I was able to speak with Al Sweigart, author of “Automate the Boring Stuff with Python” and Eric Matthes author of “Python Crash Course”. It was fun getting to know fellow authors.

Backing up a bit, the keynote was given by Jake Vanderplas and he spoke on how Python is used in science, specifically astronomy. It was extremely interesting and really neat that so many astronomy programs are using Python for data analysis.

For the afternoon, I spent some time working as a volunteer in the “Green Room”. These are the behind-the-scenes people who make sure the talks go off without a hitch. It was fun and pretty busy.. I met a lot of people and I thought that it went quite well.

My first talk was Nicole Zuckerman’s (@zuckerpunch) The Glory of pdb’s set_trace. She works for Clover Health and discovered that people were still using Python’s print() statement for debugging rather than using pdb. She is a huge advocated of using pdb’s set_trace() method. This method is useful for setting breakpoints in your code, traverse frames in a call stack, inspect variables, etc. You can read some more about pdb in Python’s documentation. Personally I like the debugger that comes with Wingware’s IDE, however pdb can be useful when you’re on a machine or remote server that you can’t use a more powerful debugger on. Anyway, this was an interesting talk that might be useful for people who need to learn more about the pdb module and how to use it constructively.