Live from PyCon UK 2007 – Part 1

It’s half-way through day one of the UK’s first national python conference PyCon UK. I’ve taken a few minutes out between talks to review things so far. As this is a live post I’ll reference it up later with links to people and products I mention. [ References added 18th September]

I declare an interest as I am part of the crew for the conference helping set things up and chair some sessions.

I should also declare I’m a bit of a fraud in as much as I have only ever written three python programmes. It’s something I want to do more of so this conference will be my catalyst hopefully.

Before the main conference started today we had a pub meet in the evening on Friday. This was held at Bennett’s pub in the centre of Birmingham. There were about 70 people there at its peak.

As organisers we faced our first crisis because the chef at Benetts had “disappeared” just before we arrived so no food was available and we had 20 hungry pythonista’s hoping for food. Zeth and John struck on the idea of buying take out food from the Thai restaurant across the road and ferrying it. Chaos abounded with dishing out the various portions but everyone got fed, crisis averted. As a vegetarian I didn’t expect to spend so much time dishing up food to corpse crunchers half the evening but it’s all hands to the pump.

Day One

The main conference is being held at the Birmingham Conservatoire and we have 200 delegates using 4 rooms for talks and tutorials. Here’s a brief outline of the ones I have heard so far.

Database Magic with SQLAlchemy

This talk was given by Paul Johnston and as the first talk up in one of the rooms he was setting the standard for the day. The talk was quite a technical overview of the use of SQLAlchemy an Object Relationship Mapper that allows python objects to be stored in standard SQL RDBMS . What was particularly interesting was the way relationships between objects could be mapped and then the SQL generated for queries could be done in an “eager” mode that uses outer joins etc. to reduce the number of sub-queries and calls to the database to get a set of data.

Introduction to Django

This was an eagerly anticipated talk from Jason Davies and was well attended. Jason ran through a broad over view of the Model View Template approach of Django and the background to Django. With just slides to view, it lacked a bit of the interactive element to show the speed with which sites can be developed but Jason handled a good 20 minutes of questions at the end and was able to address them all in a reasonable level of detail without overwhelming the mostly beginner audience with technical detail.

He also showed a slide showing the relative performance of Django, Turbo Gears, Symfony and Ruby on Rails. Django comes out really quite well on this.

Ok off to more talks, not sure if I’ll get time to do another live post but we’ll see.

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