This post is by Steve Dower, Software Engineer on Python Tools at Microsoft.
This week, Azure ML’s Python team and representatives from across Microsoft will be heading to PyCon Montreal. This conference is the largest Python gathering each year with over two thousand attendees and one hundred sponsors. I’m excited to share that for 2015, Microsoft is the Keystone sponsor of PyCon. Sponsoring the conference helps the Python Software Foundation cover expenses and provide scholarships and travel aid for people who could not attend without assistance. We have been sponsoring PyCon for some time, and we’re very happy to be able to increase our support this year. It’s too late to attend if you aren’t already, but this post is to let you know that we are attending and to share what we’ll be talking about.
What Goes On At PyCon?
Unlike many conferences in our industry, PyCon is purely about building the Python community. It isn’t run by a company to promote or teach about their products, and it’s not run for profit. PyCon brings together Python developers in all industries from bankers in suits to web developers with mohawks, technical areas from data scientists to systems administrators, and skill levels from novices to people who can speak Python better than their native language.
Talks: April 10th-12th
All these diverse people come to PyCon to meet each other, share their own, and learn from others’ experiences. There is a schedule of talks by attendees ranging from new Python libraries to learning how to engage with the open-source community. Apart from these scheduled talks, PyCon also features lightning talk sessions where attendees get five minutes to present on anything they like. Lightning talks are selected during the conference, so we can’t tell you when we’ll be presenting, but we hope to be up there demonstrating some of our newest tools and services.
Tutorials And Workshops: April 8th-9th
Before the talks start, there are two days of tutorials and workshops that go deeper on topics of interest and are often hands-on. This year, we will have two of our engineers doing tutorials. Orlando Karam will be teaching about writing Python for the Spark framework, and Chris Wilcox will be showing how to use Azure, Azure ML, and the Azure Data Market from Python. Both of these are hands-on sessions, but attendees don’t have to be existing customers or even running Windows. Python is a great cross-platform language, and as we add more Python support to our services they become more easily available on other operating systems.
Language Summit: April 8th
Apart from the talks and tutorials, we will also be attending the Python language summit. Python has always done a great job of supporting Windows despite most of its developers being primarily Linux users. Over the last two years we’ve been increasingly contributing to Python’s development by having our engineers engage directly with the community, provide bug fixes, and be available to discuss Windows-specific issues. Some of the most significant changes coming for Python 3.5, such as the upgrade to a newer compiler and the new installer, have been contributed to by our engineers, and the language summit at PyCon is a great opportunity for the core developers to sync up and identify areas we can continue to contribute to.
Expo: April 10th-12th
During the conference, a large expo hall is opened to allow organizations to present their products and services to attendees. Microsoft will have a booth there filled with people who can tell and show you about Azure Machine Learning, Azure App Service (formerly Websites), Python Tools for Visual Studio, and even how to use Kinect from Python. We are also keen to take this opportunity to listen and find out how we can best support Python developers on our platforms. If you’re already using Visual Studio or Azure, we would love to see what you’re doing with them and we have classy polo shirts and quadcopters for anything that impresses us. Even if you only just installed VS or created a website so you can get a shirt, that’s okay; we’ll be impressed.
Jobs Fair: April 12th
Did you know we are hiring? PyCon holds a jobs fair each year so that attendees have an opportunity to talk to recruiters who are specifically offering Python and related positions. We will be there looking for great developers, so come and see us or apply online.
Sprints: April 13th-16th
After the main conference is over, there are four days of sprints. These are an opportunity for developers to work on their projects in person, while the rest of the year is spent collaborating over email. We will have engineers at each day of the sprints working on some of our libraries, helping on CPython development, and being available to help other developers when they encounter issues on Windows. Since many attendees won’t actually have a Windows PC handy, we’re also bringing a stack of Surface Pro 3s for people to use for testing and debugging. They’ll all have previews of Visual Studio 2015 and Python Tools for Visual Studio installed, so it’s a great chance to get hands-on with our products. We will have more details at the sprints, so come and find us there.
What A Busy Week!
Beyond what I’ve mentioned here, PyCon also has charity auctions, dinners, meetups and more events and opportunities to strengthen the community. We are very excited to be attending and are looking forward to meeting more people who love Python as much as we do.
Hope to see you there!