The experience of the PyCon Canada 2012 #PyConCa

Well, so finally the date arrived and I had to go to Toronto for giving a talk about Graph Databases in Python. Since the beginning  of the event I could feel the energy and good vibrations of the wonderful team of organizers. From here, my humble congratulations for all of them for an awesome job, including volunteers, that made real an amazing experience. It was my first PyCon so far. I had already heard about Python Conferences and how cool are, but I never had the opportunity to be in one. PyConCa, the first one of its kind Canada-wide, gave me the chance I was wanted to.

The reception took place the Friday at night, where I could know some people, register as speaker and get the credential. I must say that the credential with the shiny tag of speaker made me very happy.

Saturday was the first formal day of conference, starting relatively early (above all for those who went out the night before). The session began with a keynote by Jessica McKellar about HackerSchool. After a small break, the sessions split up in three, main hall, lower hall and tutorial room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend to any of the tutorials. So for the next talk I had to decide between the 40 min talk about SQLAlchemy (given by its creator Michael Bayer) and the two 20 min talks about MongoDB and Gene databases and about Writing self-documenting scientific code using physical quantities. So I went to the SQLAlchemy talk for 20 min and then to the one about  MongoDB. In the last one I knew Vid Ayer who shown herself really interested on graph databases and she didn’t miss my talk.

After another small break, I saw a really good talk by Mike Fletcher, an independent consultant from Toronto. He gave a presentation about Profiling for Performance, in which I discovered awesome tools like Coldshot, a better alternative for hotshot, or RunSnakeRun, a graphical interface for profiling logs that is really helpful.

The lunch, that was included in the prize of the conference, was acceptable and did the trick to deceive the stomach until the dinner. Next talks were about App Engine Python SDKCloudant REST API that has been rewritten in Python using Flask, a light web framework; a Python Dynamo-DB mapper; and a funny presentation of everything you wanted to know about deploying web apps on Windows but were too horrified to ask. After the coffe break, Daniel Lindsley, author of tastypie and Haystack amon others, gave an excellent talk about searchers.

After the excellent Daniel’s presentation, I stayed at Main Hall and listened the talk I Wish I Knew How to Quit You: Secrets to sustainable Python communities by Elizabeth Leddy, a core developer of Plone, the previously famous CMS for Python. She is, as we say in Spanish, toda una personaja, and talked about how to successfully manage a Python community. Next talk was by Mahdi Yusuf, a pasionate developer from Ottawa, and maintainer of PyCoders Weekly newsletter, who explained the history of Python Packaging. Right after his successful talk, Martín Alderete from the Python Argentinian users group presented the Ninja IDE, an totally awesome integrated development environment with a ton of features, open source and thought with Python in mind. And that was all for the first day.

In the next morning, because my talk was in the first slot, I missed the keynote given by Michael Feathers. But I was half nervous half excited. So I went to the Lower Hall where my talk will take place an waited for the guy before me to end. Steve Singer, that is his name, talked about using Python as a procedural language for PostgreSQL, what is really interesting. And finally I gave my talk about graph databases, mostly Neo4j, in Python. I presented basic concepts like what is a graph, or what type of graphs exist. And then a landscape of graph databases solutions and which ones of these are suitable to be used in Python. Finally some examples using these libraries and even a fast hint about how to deploy a Neo4j in Heroku and connect to it from neo4j-rest-client. Unfortunately, at the same time, Kenneth Reith, author of requests and working on Heroku, was giving a really interesting talk called Python for Humans.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience of giving a talk, even though there weren’t a lot of people attending to it. One thing I noticed was the most of the people were scientist looking forward to solve a problem that could be better understood using graph structures, like state machines or even biology.

And, why not, here is my talk and my slides, even when I know that the only thing worse than listening to yourself speaking in a video, that’s doubtless listening to yourself speaking in a video in English. But, it is what it is :)

After that, I stayed in the same room to attend a talk on server log analysis using Pandas. Pandas aims to be the fundamental high-level building block for doing practical, real world data analysis in Python. And the guy who talked about it, used IPython Notebook to do the presentation, a new unknown for me killer feature of the interactive console IPython. Then, some talks about big data using Disco and Inferno, and horizontally scaling databases in Django, guys from Chango and Wave Accounting, both Toronto-based companies. Diego Muñoz, ex-member of the CulturePlex, gave a talk about an Ember.js adaptar for Django in order to avoid any change to your REST API if you are already using tastypie.

A small coffe break after, talks about real time web apps with by Gabriel Grant, Urwid by Ian Ward (including the awesome bpython interpreter or speedometer tool), workloads and cloud by Chayin Kirshen, and speeding up your database by Anna Filina. But in the afternoon, I must say that the best one was given by Alexandre Bourget from Monteral aka the showman: Gevent-socketio, cross-framework real-time web live demo.

For ending the day and the conference, Fernando Pérez gave a talk on science and Python as a retrospective of a (mostly) successful decade. In his slides you can clearly see an use of IPython Notebook.

And that was pretty much everything. I already am looking forward for the next one. It is a really good experience, you learn a lot from great people and pass an amazing weekend surrounded by other Python coders. It is totally worth it. Let’s see if I am accepted for PyCon US. Cross your fingers!

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