PyCon US 2017

PyCon usually stays in one city for two years to make it possible for organizers to re-use the gathered resources for a conference at least once. Sadly, this means that this year is the last PyCon in Portland. Or at least the last one for the next couple of years.

Still, even though I now do most of my work in NodeJS and Go, it was extremely interesting learning what has been going on in the Python community over the last 12 months. Sounds like asyncio is finally gaining traction which means I might be able to switch back from NodeJS for a couple of use-cases 😊

But before the event can welcome 3300 attendees, some things have to be prepared…


Since I’m usually not the workshop-guy, PyCon starts for me with the bag-stuffing event, where nearly 100 attendees meet the afternoon before the main conference to prepare the goodie-bags that are handed out the following morning to all attendees.

Over the years we have become quite proficient at that. There is one long row of tables with all the goodies on it, people standing next to that to hand out the goods and then two rows of people running from top to bottom with an open bag in order to receive them and handing the filled bag over to people managing the “final storage”.

The queue for filling all these bags has become a well-oiled machine over the years!

And we are also getting faster and faster with every year! This time around it only took 2 hours to fill the 3000+ bags!

The conference

Following the bag stuffing and evening reception are three days of talks in up to five parallel tracks. From social talks, over asyncio, to things like Docker and Kubernetes there should have been something for anyone.

My personal favorites were these:

  • Design secure APIs with state machines (Ashwini Oruganti from Docker): Out of this talk will most likely come another blog post where I look into various state-machine libraries in Python and perhaps also in Go.
  • Python @ Instagram: Two days before that talk I had re-activated my Instagram account after many years of slumbering so this was especially interesting to me. It mostly covered Instagram’s strategy for moving from Python 2.x to 3.6 and Django 1.3 to 1.8. If you have a large code-base then this talk might interest you. The next large-scale update/refactoring will come!
  • Async/await and asyncio in Python 3.6 and beyond (Yury Selivanov): A really nice overview of what the new language features regarding asyncio bring to the table. I cannot wait to play around with it!
  • The dictionary even mightier (Brandon Rhodes): Again a great overview about some of the more hidden features of the Python dictionary and the way Python 3.6 might help you with getting more reproducible behavior.
  • Kubernetes for Pythonistas (Kelsey Hightower): This was the absolute highlight of the last day for me. I had already known a bit about Kubernetes but it’s always such a joy to listen to Kelsey Hightower!

There were, sadly, also a handful of talks and lightning talks that made me leave the room, but overall the talks were great and the lightning talks are still my absolute highlight of any PyCon 😍

The dinner party

Every year PyCon also organizes two dinners in special locations around the city where people can get to know each other better. This year, Ulrich and I managed to get tickets for the second dinner right on the last day of the main conference. The event was hosted by our good friend Adrienne Friend at the gorgeous Portland Art Museum. Delicious food, great company, what more can you want?!

The conference dinner at the Portland Art Museum offered enough space to get to know people without being too crowded.

The sprints

During the sprints, I mostly worked on PyVideo-related things. I had wanted to work on a search-feature for the site for many months now but only found time for it now. You can learn more about that in a different post 😊 The deployment of that was a bit more complicated than expected and required another server-move (thanks Ulrich) but other than that it was a very smooth process and I hope that feature proof to be useful in the future.

After that I started to play a little bit around with asyncio but, sadly, didn’t get that far as one of my PRs for WriteTheDocs kept on coming back to me. That being said, I think it was still a very productive sprint despite me not writing more than a handful of lines of Python. At least I now have Pythonista on my iPad πŸ˜‰

Goodbye, Portland

This is probably the most emotional end of a trip I’ve ever had. Over the last two year’s I’ve fallen in love with Portland and its people. There is just so much to love here, from the beers, the food, the donuts, the bridges, the river, the MAX… It was just the perfect place for PyCon and WriteTheDocs and I hope that I will get a change to return here one day.

Portland from above is even more beautiful. View from the New Relic offices.

Big thanks to everyone who made these two events possible and everyone in the city we came across during the last two years ❀️

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