Back from Europython 2012

With a break of just a few weeks at the end of June I was once again off to a conference : EuroPython. Now for the second time in a row the conference took place in Florence (Italy), organized by the PythonItalia group which once again did an awesome job making the event a pure delight for now more than 750 attendees. And since I tend to write rather long posts here comes the TL;DR version: Awesome conference, extremely well organized, looking forward to be there again next year :-)

The conference was split up into 5 tracks and 5 days with two additional rooms being reserved for tutorials. every about two time slots there was a break which provided enough opportunity for socializing during the days and on most evenings there was some kind of social-event taking place somewhere within the city of Florence.

Public viewing in Florence

But since you usually don’t primarily go to a conference for the side events, lets focus on the main program for a second here. The talks covered a huge range of topics from core Python stuff to multiple web-frameworks to computer visualization to DevOps to…. As diverse as the topics were also the speakers, with people from all around the world showing what they had learnt or were working on right now. With Omar Trinidad Gutiérrez Méndez even Mexico had its representative giving a talk about OpenCV and how to work with it through various Python bindings.

Perhaps my favorite session I actually attended was by Armin Ronacher about new features and architectural decisions in Flask 0.9 and how to apply them in practice. In general my schedule included quite a few talks about Flask and MongoDB (to my own surprise) simply because, while I’m rather Django focused right now, I have some projects and ideas where Flask in combination with either SQLAlchemy, MongoDB or no database whatsoever simply makes more sense than Django.

"Flask talk by Armin Ronacher".replace("Armin Ronacher", "CERN").replace("Flask", "Higgs Boson")

As the phrase “I actually attended” kind of implies there were tons of talks and like every other conference with more than one track you eventually end up missing a couple you originally wanted to see live. For me that was … I can’t even count them anymore. Thankfully the organizers managed to put every single talk on YouTube and attendees got early access to the raw material through an intranet file server. It will probably take me months to watch at least the first 50% of the videos I’d like to watch …

Like a couple other community conferences I’ve attended so far there was also this time a meme ;-) And this time Guido van Rossum was the one who started it all with rather rudely interrupting a speaker by shouting something like “I can’t read your slides. Your fonts are too small!!!” Over the course of the conference that statement was repeated in the back channel and also out loud so many times I’ve lost count :-) It was a little sad that the otherwise great presentations of some folks suffered when it came to the audience actually being able to read their slides. Please folks, test at least your code- and diagram-slides from really far away!

Another minor meme was Armin Ronacher’s continuing struggle with doors at EuroPython conferences ;-) This time he missed his own talk (mentioned above) while being locked into his own apartment. Thankfully he and the organizers could reschedule his talk for the next day while the audience watched a stream of the press conference at CERN about the Higgs Boson.

And as with DjangoCon at EP there was an initiative through keynotes and other events to make the community more welcoming to people and groups that might right now feel to some degree excluded or under-represented. Something that is spearheaded by among others the PyLadies group.

Back to the side events: Besides the PyFiorentina event on Wednesday there were also two coding jams/competitions of which I only attended the one based on the Google Code Jam format on Thursday. Never attended such an event before but definitely plan to do so in the future. The problems posed here are so completely different from what I’m normally dealing with that this should help my mind loosen up a bit :D I’ve already started downloading some practice material from past code jams ;-)

Code jams were packed!

There were also a couple of official and in-official beer events in pubs throughout the city with the first one right during the Euro 2012 finals evening (semi-official), the second (official) the day after the the James Joyce pub and then one basically every afternoon at the bar right across the street from the conference hotel in the Giardini Di Lungarno Del Tempio. They probably made a fortune during that week and should probably hire David Cramer and Dougal Matthews as some kind of bar ambassadors ;-)

In general it was, once again, a fantastic conference. Lots of interesting talks, interesting people to talk to, great infrastructure and just a beautiful location which once again not make me thing twice when early-bird for EuroPython 2012 starts some time next year :-)

Misc. notes:

  • B&B Hotel Firenze City Center is a nice hotel not far away from the city center and the conference hotel which sometimes forgets that you have a reservation or that they offer a conference deal …
  • Mobile phone GPS’ tend to abandon you in the tight streets of Florence when looking for a nice restaurant on Trip Advisor. And bring a map other than Google Maps (like OSM)!
  • Get a Spotify T-shirt if you get the chance before they only have XXL ones left :-(
  • The application of a little bit of force doesn’t count as brute force!
  • Evernote is still awesome for note-talking during conferences and trip planing in general!
  • My photos are (as always) available on SmugMug.