PyDev of the Week: Ali Spittel

This week we welcome Ali Spittel (@ASpittel) as our PyDev of the Week! Ali is a blogger and speaker and enjoys teaching about tech. You can see what code she’s been writing over on Github. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Ali better!

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

Hey! I’m Ali. I am a software engineer at DEV, an awesome community of programmers that I was a member of for a while before joining. Outside of work, I rock climb and hang out with my puppy, Blair. I’m also really involved in the DC tech community, which is incredible.

I’m mostly self-taught as far as programming goes — I was a government major at Hamilton College, but I took a few computer science classes and fell in love with it. Here we are!

Why did you start using Python?

I actually learned Python as my very first programming language in college. That class was awesome — we built a bunch of games and learned the fundamentals pretty well.

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

I’ve worked professionally doing a lot of front end development, and I have a lot of fun with JavaScript. I’ve also done some Ruby at work. I’ve used Java and C++ in school. Then, for personal projects, I’ve used Elm and Go too. I think JavaScript is my favorite of those — it’s just so important for the web and you can build really cool creative stuff with it.

What projects are you working on now?

Right now, tech community and writing stuff takes up a lot of my time, but my biggest side project is, which highlights content creators from underrepresented groups in tech.

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

A big part of my career has been writing Django code (and creating curriculum for it), so that’s definitely a huge one. Definitely my goto web framework. I also think Pandas is so powerful — super cool how much you can do with it. Another (utilitarian) one is collections — I do a lot of code challenges and it’s so helpful. I think it’s so cool that turtle is part of the standard library too — such a fun educational tool.

How did you get into blogging?

I had this series where I would learn one new technology each week, build something with it, and then write about the learning process. It was a ton of work, but also pretty fun. I started out writing on Medium a little over a year ago — I didn’t really get much traction with it, but it was fun to build things and write about it. Then, I joined a couple months later and I really loved the community and definitely had a better reader base. This summer I transitioned my writing to be more general interest programming topics, which I’ve had even more fun with!

What are some things you have learned from writing about programming?

I’ve learned so much! Especially from the series where I made myself learn new technologies — learning in public really makes you stay accountable! I’ve also learned about how supportive and encouraging the tech community is — I’ve made so many awesome friends through writing!

Thanks for doing the interview, Ali!