Djangocon.eu - Day 1

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So today was day 1 of this year’s Djangocon.eu in Berlin. After surviving last nights pre-show beer-up at the Schleusenkrug getting a seat in the local metro was easier than expected. I guess, on a holiday early in the morning not all that many people are ready to leave their comfy beds. The downside is that you can’t really ask anyone for the way, but luckily I ran into jezdez and BartTC.

The venue is just fantastic with two large video walls, comfortable chairs and power plugs for everyone. It’s kind of well hidden, though, so without Jannis and Martin I probably wouldn’t have found it within 20 minutes (thank you, telcos, for your stupid roaming contracts btw.). Part of being a great venue is also that the beamer walls are high enough that if you have some > 1.6m sitting in front of you, you can still see the slides.


Keynotes

Jacob Kaplan-Moss talked about the state of the pony and the community. He gave some really nice numbers regarding the user-base with around 17.000 members currently registered on django-users. But the main part was not about the past but about the future: Where should Django go from here?

Similar to Rails, Django is currently or will be facing a couple of issues:

  • Python is currently in flux with the transition to 3.x

  • The rise of microframeworks like Flask and friends

  • A fracture of the community (less so in Django but still relevant) because of the size of the user-base out-pacing the size of the developer community and also because of the existence of alternatives.

  • And the relationship between Django and the language community

First of all the interaction with the whole Python community should probably be improved and also to go about standards more pro-actively by not only implementing them but working standardization processes. Django should also become more accessible to new users. Regarding this, naturally, the topic of DVCS came up, but according to Jacob this would be the wrong way of addressing the community issue and it’s probably still too hot a topic right now anyway ;-).

A more detailed summary can be found on Reinout’s blog.

WSGI and Python3

It’s weird: Every time I meet Armin at a Python conference he talks about WSGI :-) This time it was all about the brokeness, Python3’s unicode handling (or string handling in general compared to how it was done with Python 2.x) introduced with regards to WSGI and the web-related parts of the stdlib. In general it seems like that Unicode was introduced into parts where it doesn’t really belong, like sys.stdin and urllib.

Because of that and in order to eventually upgrade to Python 3.x (since 2.7 will be the last release of the 2.x series of Python) Armin made a couple of predictions. For example:

  • The stdlib will probably be less used by WSGI apps

  • Frameworks will have to re-implement certain functionalities that were usually provided by the stdlib.

So if we care for web development with and in Python, all of us should get involved in the process of improving Python 3.x.

Django and NoSQL

NoSQL is currently the big thing and so it was unavoidable to also see some talks related to that here. Alex Gaynor is currently working as part of his GSoC project on getting some kind of integration between the model layer and various NoSQL implementation. The motivation for that is pretty clear: Django offers a hug set of functionality regarding the data layer and so far working with, e.g. MongoDB, requires that you have to re-invent the wheel or jump through more hoops than necessary to use those with alternatives data backends.

As part of his talk Alex also gave a really nice overview of the current architecture of the query layer within the ORM, which he proposes to change a little bit in order to move more platform dependent logic out of the Query object and into the query compiler. A rough time frame was also presented: ~ Django 1.4.

Running a User Group

For quite some time now I’ve been thinking about organizing some kind of webdevelopment-centric user group in Graz. Webmontage and Barcamps are nice but usually are less technically than I’d like them to be. Sean O’Connor organizes the Django NYC usergroup and had some principles to share regarding how to get a usergroup going and how to keep it running. I think it kind of boils down to offering participants a scheduled and reliable place to share ideas. This requires a venue that allows socializing and it has to be promoted well. Sponsors, if they exist, shouldn’t provide money but e.g. the venue or other infrastructure.

The Django project itself could help here, in my opinion, with offering some centralized place for people to find usergroups.

Testing

Honza Král gave an overview about testing in general just in case there were still people in the audience that have never used the testing framework integrated in Django.

He went about some tips on how to write your tests in order to keep them usable and also how to make your code in general more testable. For instance, he suggests using class-based views since you then can easily fragment your view into parts that you can easily test.

Quote of the talk:

Don't use doctests

-- Armin Ronacher

Django and the Enterprise

Next, Jirka Schäfer of tschitschereengreen presented some tips on how you might be able to introduce Django into a customers IT infrastructure. This is rather problematic thanks to larger companies tried to keep their infrastructure standardized and naturally larger companies being highly political systems.

Basically the idea here is to use Jython to integrate with the mostly Java-based infrastructure, acting kind of as a trojan horse with something sweet in it ;-)

Free the developers

Will Hardy presented a different take on reusable apps he calls “domain specific frameworks” which are from what I understood more loosely bound to the rest of the project using functionality like generic relations and signals or provide for instance really generic base classes for the model layer. Other means for such frameworks are template method that work depending on the methods the models provide.

Lightning talks

OK, that was the first day. Well, not really, but I think I will just write about the beerbucket tomorrow. Thanks to bitbucket for sponsoring the beer :-)

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