We attended the PyCon 2011 in Atlanta, GA early this month, which is the longest conference I’ve ever attended (March 9-17, 9 days total) but it was so worth it! We’re mainly a Java shop and we’re fairly new to Python so PyCon really showed us what we can do with Python and all these tools available for it that could really help us with our development. After the conference we’re pretty much convinced that Python is the way to go (unfortunately, it will take a lot of convincing to have all our apps converted to Python in our environment :().
The conference was broken up into 3 parts: first 2 days are tutorial days, followed by 3 days for the main conference, then 4 days of development sprints (our favorite).
For the tutorial days, we took the Python 101 tutorial (we probably should have taken the intermediate one but we still learned quite a bit in the 101 class) and the Python/Django deployment workshop as we’re really interested in Django. Jacob Kaplan-Moss, one of the core developers of Django, taught the Django deployment class. He went pretty fast since there were a lot to cover but it was pretty neat to see all these tools you can use for your development and deployment and the best ways to use them. Such tools include virtualenv, pip, nginx,Fabric, Chef, and gunicorn.
For the main conference, we pretty much focused on Django so most of the talks we attended were related to Django. There were a bunch of other interesting topics we attended as well, such as network programming, GPU computing with PyCUDA, and continuous deployment. The keynote presentation by Hilary Mason at http://bit.ly was very good as well.
Now our favorite part: 4 days of development sprints! This is the first time I’ve ever done a development sprint. The idea is basically you walk in to one of the rooms dedicated for the sprints, find a spot and plug in your laptop, then do development. You can contribute to open source projects (development, documentation, testing, etc.) or just work on your own project. The cool thing is everyone in the room is a developer and a lot of the core developers for these open source projects are there too in the same room as you, so you can interact with them and ask them questions if you like. It’s pretty neat working in a room with a bunch of people who just love to program, it really creates a good working atmosphere. You can pretty much come in as early as you like and leave as late as you like. We’ve stayed pretty late, I think the latest we’ve stayed there was around 1am, but there were people there who stayed as late as 3am – 4am everyday like the http://djangopackages.com guys. I wish I could do this everyday (well, maybe just 6 days a week, still need a break :))!
This is now one of my favorite conferences and really looking forward to PyCon 2012 in Santa Clara which I hope I can attend!