Kiwi PyCon 2014: Trip Report

I attended Kiwi PyCon again this year, and it was fantastic! The conference was held in Wellington, a fine city with some great bars (I'm sure it has other attractive qualities, but I mainly remember the bars). Below are some random highlights that I feel are worth sharing.

The Talks

Some talks stood out as being noteworthy to me this year. Below are a selection of my faivourites from this year:

Alyona Medelyan: Understanding human language with Python

While this talk wasn't particularly useful to me in my day-to-day life, it got me thinking about all the cool things I could do with a bit of text analysis. One thing I've been curious about is to try and do text analysis on the various sections of trademe - my hypothesis is that people selling motorcycle parts have the worst language skills on the website; it would be nice to have some evidence of that though. This was the kind of talk that made me wish I had more spare time to hack on random interesting side projects.

Nick Coghlan: Python Beyond (C)Python (Keynote)

Nick's keynote talk was a great high-level overview of the wider python ecosystem. It's very easy to concentrate on your own project / team / company, and forget that there are multiple python implementations, distributors / vendors etc. I'm slowly getting more and more involved in packaging python projects for Debian and Ubuntu, so it was great to have an opportunity to hang out with an expert and have some of my preconceptions challenged.

Francois Marier: External dependencies in web apps system libs are not that scary

Francois talks about the various advantages of deploying a web-app and using the system-packages your Linux distribution provides, instead of 'vendorising' your dependencies or relying on pypi. This is exactly what we do at work, and it seems to work well for us. Canonical has an amazing security team - if you're going to deploy using something other than system packages, you'd better be able and willing to keep on top of security updates.

Robert Collins: Semver and Python with PBR

Robert Collins presents several tools that have been developed to help manage the openstack projects. PBR helps you manage multiple python projects that are part of a larger whole. This seems like a common problem to those of us doing large scale development, so I'll certainly be using some of the things I learned here in my work in the future. Semver (semantic versioning) is a standard for defining version numbers for every build, which helps when dealing with dev builds, pre-releases, release candidates, alpha, beta, release builds etc.

My Own Contribution

This year I attempted to start a conversation about software testing that didn't revolve around unit tests. It was the hardest talk I've ever had to write, and it went better than I expected. Much of the talk content came from my experience in the Ubuntu Engineering QA department. Based on the conversations I had afterwards, it seems like everyone is suffering from the same problems.

That's not all!

I could list many more talks. Kiwi PyCon is one of my faivourite conferences to attend. We have a really warm, welcoming community, and this year was no exception. The full list of conference talk videos is available here.

Next year the conference will be held in Christchurch, and I'm looking forward to it already!


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