Saturday, February 25, 2006

PyCon 2006 - Day 2

Another great day at PyCon. Here are some quick summaries of the sessions that I visited today.

State of the Python Universe Address

This was a great presentation from Guido about what is up and coming in future versions of Python. Python 2.5 is coming out shortly and has some nice new features. I'm looking forward to the enhanced exception handling capabilities and the with statement. The with statement should make a lot of things easier in Python. A quick example looks like:

with open(filename) as f:
for line in f:
print f

This would open the file and print each line. A nice addition is that the file will automagically be closed after the with block. This will also be able to be used with locking and database transactions.

He also noted that the ElementTree, ctypes, wsgiref, and setuptools packages will also be added to the standard library.

wxPython and Chandler BOF

I started the day off with the wxPython and Chandler BOF discussions. It appears that wxPython has made a lot of progress over the years, and some people are doing some really cool stuff. One in particular was a demo of a very nice drag and drop UI creation tool. It was also nice to see apps like Chandler really start to mature. wxPython still seems to have some dificulties with printing, html/pdf like output, and rich text editing, plus still being a bit behind and slower on the Mac.

The folks from the OSAF are a great bunch. They gave a demo of the new features and answered a lot of questions. Some of the cool up and coming features include a table view of the calendar where items can be grouped in various ways, and other general improvemets. They are also focusing on being able to aggregate data from various sources including web pages, and then being able to link the various pieces of data together. An obvious example would being able to have a contact and then see all the related info to that person that you may be tracking like blog entries, flickr feeds, etc. Very promising stuff. I'm looking forward to when they have improved imap support to do a little hacking myself.

New Tools for Testing Web Applications with Python

Webapps are becomming more and more testable with all these new tools coming out. The speaker described a project called Funkload and how it can be used for functional, load and stress testing web apps. It also can generate some nice reports and graphs after the tests are run. This looks very promising, and I'm going to have to recommend it to our team.

He also touched on Selenium, which I have been using quite a bit. I'm very impressed with how much can be done with it, and how easy it is to generate tests with the selenium-ide plug in for Firefox. If you need to do functional testing of your web app, this is a great tool worthy of considering.

Lightning Talks

Lightning Talks are 5 minute talks on just about whatever the speaker wants to talk about. Some may remember that this is where Django made its first public appearance at last year's PyCon. There were so many scheduled that they added another set of talks tomorrow that should be interesting.

David Creemer from gave a talk about his experiences with his Python startup and the good, the bad, and the ugly of the technologies that they chose. Over all they have had some good success, and are yet another example of a successful company using and enjoying Python.

Ben Collins-Sussman from Google gave a very amusing talk about how he created an IRC bot to replace himself as he wouldn't have much time to chat on IRC now that he is working at Google.

The and scripts evidently made it incredibly easy. He included a couple of conversations that were very funny, and included that his next project is to create a Python based Z Machine interpreter (Adventure, Zork, etc.) that will run over IRC. Hmmm... Perhaps it is time to create my ScottBot :)

Party at Nerd Books!

If you haven't been to yet, I suggest you go check it out. They have great prices, and you can even pick the books up at their warehouse! I picked up a just released copy of Python Essential Reference, 3rd Edition and Python Cookbook, 2nd Edition. They also had over 50 pizzas and various chips and other snacks. This was a great success, and I will definately be a future customer of

That about sums it up for today. Tomorrow I am looking forward to Ian Bicking's talk on web development plus another TurboGears and Django talk.

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