Pycon 2015 Recap

This post is by Steve Dower, Software Engineer on Python Tools at Microsoft.

Those of us fortunate enough to be at PyCon 2015 in Montreal got a chance to attend some amazing talks, sprints and tutorials and also the opportunity to meet several interesting people, many of who are active contributors to this event and to the larger Python community. We figured we would share some our experiences from the conference through this post. (By the way, if you missed PyCon, do come and see us at PyData Seattle, which will be hosted at the Microsoft Redmond campus on July 24-26. The call for proposals and early-bird registrations are still open, so if you’re a data scientist using Python or simply interested in learning about it, we’d love to see you there!)

At Pycon, we launched a new series of videos for PTVS – these are short, under-5 minute videos to help you jump start your Python journey. They range from getting started guides to help set up Visual Studio for Python development through to deep-dive tutorials about Cross Platform Remote DebuggingHow to create a Python Django WebsiteCreating Native Modules, and more. We will continue to add to this list. If there are specific tutorials you’d like to see, please send us your requests.

Expo Hall

We love telling Python fans about PTVS. While the community is very fond of simple editors like vim (and not-so-simple ones like emacs), the functionality available in Visual Studio is often a very pleasant surprise to people. Tasks like setting breakpoints and getting code suggestions are so much simpler in VS that by the time we get to the really cool stuff like cross-platform and mixed-mode debugging, people have already started using it for their next Python project.

This year we also got to show off just how far we’ve come with Azure since last year. Our workshop helped about 50 people get started with great features like the Azure Marketplace and Application Insights, and some of the easy on-ramps like encouraged even more people to try out Azure.

Our most recently launched service, Azure Machine Learning, was very popular. The Python community has a lot of data scientists and researchers, and they are pleasantly surprised to see how tightly both R and Python are integrated. Many data scientists visited our booth and got a chance to try out Azure ML. (OK, a few of them just came for the quadcopters :-))

Supporting Python

Both during and after the main conference, we spent a fair bit of time working with Python developers to help make Python easier on Windows. One of the problems we are aware of is that many packages won’t simply “pip install” on Windows, so we are actively working with other teams at Microsoft and external people working on open-source compilers to alleviate this concern.

Attendees at the Python Language Summit

One of the highlights of PyCon is the Language Summit, which is an opportunity for the Python development team to meet in person. We had some of our engineers there, and we got to contribute to the discussions about installing Python, migration from Python 2 to Python 3, and others. A big topic this year was type hinting, which is similar to the incremental typing support that TypeScript adds to JavaScript. Since we have experience implementing a type inference engine in PTVS, we were called on to contribute to the discussion.

During the development sprints we spent some time making further improvements to the Python installer for Windows, which you can preview in Python 3.5.0 alpha 4. We want to make it really easy for people to get and use Python, and a great way to help is by actively contributing to the core Python project.

Thank You!

We’d like to thank everyone who came to PyCon this year and chatted with us, as well as all the people who tried out PTVS, Azure or Azure ML for the first time. It’s great to be part of a thriving community, and the Python community is one of the friendliest and most exciting out there. We are looking forward to next year’s PyCon as well as PyData Seattle later this year and hope to see you there!

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