Tuesday, March 2, 2010

PyCon Wrapup II: Python Stuff

[People stuff is trees-and-forest, so here is a post on what was done about Python at PyCon]

The talks were good and the 5x (as opposed to 4x) tracks didn't seem to hurt. Worst case: any talk you missed you can watch on pycon.blip.tv. Speakers were aware that their talks would be recorded so using laser pointers (instead of highlights or spoken words) is going away. This is a sideways move - laser pointers were useful right up until they weren't.

The Language Summit was far more boring than last year. Python 3.x issues are mostly settled from the core-dev standpoint so the big issues were disutils (how, and at what level should python packages care about packaging) and alternate implementations. Unladen Swallow was the talk of the town not because they are the first alternate implementation of Python but because they are the first implementation that plans to ship with benefits and no tradeoffs. Did I say no tradeoffs? It was unanimus that both disutils2 and Unladen Swallow would be integrated once the tradeoffs were wholly positive. Who can't get behind that?

PyCon sprints were smaller for python-dev this year but I couldn't tell if that was true for other major groups like Twisted and Django (the rooms were more broken up this year). I can say for certain the python-dev sprint had both fewer regulars and fewer pure-newbies; One local EE postgrad wanted to help out and simultaneously tried to make me care that his badge and his name didn't match; He went by "Cedric" but his badge said something else (I believe he was Caribbean). I have a long standing amusement with first names: my birth certificate doesn't say "Jack," Titus Brown's doesn't start with "Titus," and Alex Martelli's doesn't say "Alex." For that matter Guido's may say "Guido" but he doesn't care how you pronounce it. In fact all the groups I'm a participant and care about most don't care who you are legally, and don't ask for ID at the door (to riff on my last post, caring about legal ID is a "negative trust" cue).

The PSF (Python Software Foundation) exists to serve two different classes of users: end-users and People-who-hire-end-users. To put it differently the PSF is a single purpose organization that wants more users both from the bottom-up and top-down. The bottom-up stuff has been easier to organize in the form of "your-locality-here" Cons. While the PSF wants to help people to do more of that they also want to aid the corporate users who have an interest in Python. Getting companies to spend money and organize sprints has happened quite successfully before, but very irregularly (see the Need for Speed sprint). Quite happily I can say that if half the events that were spit-balled at PyCon come to be then sprints will be even more prolific in the near future (both bottom-up and top-down) and they will be just as free but even more topic specific (2to3 porting, hardcore dev stuff). At least four groups have intentions to do an event in Boston, for instance.

The CPython bug tracker has 2000 outstanding issues (a mix of bug reports/feature requests/doc requests). A new status field named "languishing" was added because there are a lot of bugs that have +1/-1 comments by core-devs but no resolution; it is a classic "middle school dance"* deadlock where no-one feels they have authority and is just waiting for someone else to pronounce. AMK and I closed about 20 of these during sprints (some applied, some rejected) but there are still a ton of these bugs outstanding. They just need a champion (for or against) to get resolution. Alex Gaynor recently did a post about who-gets-what-commit-rights on various python projects (not including python-dev). Python-dev can be disfunctional because there are 120 committers and everyone assumes there is someone else who knows better for any particular bug (the "middle school dance").

Steve Holden and Michael Foord both have the audio bug: imagine what camera crazy people spend on digital SLR gear but apply that to audio eq. Between the two they captured tens of hours of audio at PyCon and some of that should start showing up soon. Editing is the hard part in making raw into general interest so maybe four or five hours of that will appear for general publication. The blackmail snippets are easy to produce; if any exists you've already received it and the adjoining demands (Foord sensibly priced his at slightly less than a trans-Atlantic plane ticket; Holden has yet to publish a price list).

* "middle school dance" is comp-sci jargon for a deadlock where party A is waiting for party B to do something and the reverse. The allusion is to boys standing on one side of the gym waiting for the girls to ask them to dance and the girls standing on the other side, etc.