Europython – Day 1 – Tutorials

I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation when I signed up for EuroPython 2009. As primarily a sysadmin rather than a developer I was worried that I might not have the requisite knowledge to get the benefit of a week-long developer conference. After today’s experience I’m beginning to relax about that.

Today and tomorrow are the tutorial sessions before the conference proper starts. Having never been to a Python conference before I wasn’t sure what form the tutorials would take. From the outcome of the day I would have to say “much less programming than you might expect”.

The day started off with Michael Spark’s giving an introduction to Kamaelia the simple concurrency system designed by BBC Research. We started off by building a brain-dead simple version of Kamaelia to outline the principles by which it operates. This took us on to writing a bulletin-board system by chaining together simple Kamaelia components. This was, needless to say, pretty intense for a Sunday morning.

Having expected to be doing a lot of coding I dutifully spent Friday evening makeing sure that I had the suggested software installed and working on my netbook. As it turned out I only wrote about 20 lines of code during the whole tutorial. I was ever so slighlty miffed by this. This is the first time this tutorial has been given and in my opinion would benefit from being all-day with time for coding exercises between explanations.

Despite these minor problems I felt that the tutorial left me with enough of a grasp of Kamaelia’s basics that I could go away and write something simple in it without too much trouble. One other good point of the this session was the handout printed from which was really nice. So nice in fact that I think we should spring for these next time we run a training course at work.

After lunch I was in Jonathan Fine’s JavaScript for Python Programmers tutorial. Which was in a room that was too small for the audience and much, much too hot. It also appeared to have a grand total of two power outlets. Fine started off with a horrifying list of the ways basic constructs in JS behave in ways that Pythonistas will find completely illogical. After the break he delved into the nitty-gritty of OO and Inheritance. As the tutorial progressed and Fine got further from his slides the session transformed into something more like a seminar rather that a tutorial. Overall I found this session enjoyable and informative, although my brain was beginning to melt by the end of the day.

I suspect that Wifi and power are what most people will grumble about, but knowing how hard it is to sort these out for events at my home institution I won’t carp too much.

Now for some time with the Django tutorial in preparations for tomorrow’s Pyjamas session.