europython 2010: First conference day
Let me advice you, if you ever come to this part of UK (if you've never been here before) that the dawn is near 05:00 in the morning. If the light does bother you when sleeping, search for a hotel with courtains of some sort.
I woke up at 07:15, I had a quick shower and I did some clean-up of my stuff (I put everything back in my travel bag). I left the hotel at 08:00. Just after leaving, I met Denis Bilenko on my way to the Birmingham Conservatoire. Denis is going to give a talk on thursday about the gevent network library and we talked a little bit while walking to the conference building.
I got some problems entering the conference, as they didn't find my identification badge (WTF, next time I'm going to use Wu as my real name, as this happened to me back in 2008 in the djangocon in San Francisco and last year here in birmingham too :(). Finally I managed to find the badge myself, so I could get all the goodies (A nice black t-shirt, a mug from bytemark hosting and the usual list of atendees and advertisements of all kind).
With everybody seated in the Adrian Boult Hall the opening event started and the crew was introduced to everybody (just like last year):
First talk I attended to was New and Improved from Michael Foord. He covered some of the stuff in the unittest module. As a newbie to the testing world, it was an interesting talk, but probably it was more productive for people with some background on the topic.
After a small break to have a coffee (and talk with a nice guy from Bombay called Safe) I went back to Adrian Boult Hall to attend Good tests, Bad tests from William Reade. This was a little more interesting to me, as he covered some good tips when thinking about TDD and writing tests for new and legacy applications.
Next talk, before the lunch break, was How import works. In this talk Brett Cannon talks about how the new import rewrite for Python 3 works, covering some of the new internal features like finders and loaders. I've to say that I find that there are a lot more talks related to python 3 this year, which is nice (in the end, the whole python world will have to move sooner or later).
For lunch we had some chili with meat and rice (really, really, really spicy) and a variety of desserts (I picked up tiramisu, which was quite good indeed). The path to the room where we got the food (the cafeteria of the conservatoire) was full of papers and posters about the exams and qualifications of the studends, as well as some information on different methods and courses you could use/join to learn playing all kinds of instruments. As a guy told me while waiting in the queue - "It is never too late to learn playing music".
After the lunch break I attended one of the big ones (at least for me), PostgreSQL's Python soup. The talk abstract showed that it was going to be a talk covering the different Python-PostgreSQL connectors, explaining differences between them, showing some code examples and things like that. Too bad Hannu Krosing seemed to be so nervous he didn't manage the talk too well. He waste a lot of time in the beginning, not only trying to explain who he is and what he does, but to explaining what PostgreSQL is and the advantages of relational databases (which imho was a little bit outside the scope of the talk). Talking with some people at the #europython IRC channel in Freenode seems everybody ended with this same sensation about the talk. UPDATE: Later on, someone explained to me that he didn't sleep more than 2 hours last night and that he was really tired and that he had told some people to make noise if he got sleep while talking :O
Following the main topic of the day, testing in Python, the next two talks were somehow related as both covered tools for functional testing. Testing HTTP Apps with Python3 was an introduction to a soon-to-be open source project that will be called Monstrum (monster in polish), developed by Łukasz Langa (and some more people) in Poland. Lukasz and his mate began with three examples (based on true stories) to show us how important tests are and how you can shoot your feet if you don't use them. Then he covered the main features of the software and they also covered some reasons for the software to be written in Python 3.
Python & Selenium Testing was driven by two people too, Raymond Hettinger focused a little bit more on the company behind Selenium, giving us some information about the services they are offering off the cloud, based on Selenium itself (some of them are very impressive) and he even gave us access codes to test the full services for free while we are at the europython (jay!).
Jason Huggins focused more on the internals behind Selenium and how powerful it is to perform funcional testing emulating almost any kind of browser-and-os combo available. He performed a half-life/half-recorded demo to show us how to remotely call a Selenium install on a virtual machine to run some tests on a browser. Nice that, well done guys!.
Then it was time for another break. This time getting a coffee was really difficult, as everybody was there on a queue to get some. I got a coffee and I stopped by the OReilly stand (Oh! No! ;D) just to take a look at some books. Of course I stopped at the Packt Publishing stand too (quite small comparing it with the big OReilly one). I'm sure I'll not be able to avoid my usual book-hungry and I'm going to buy 2/3 books O:) (in fact there are some testing, security and regexp books that I don't know why they are not already in my bag!).
After the break I attended another talk related to testing software, this time Testing in Python with py.test by Holger Krekel, covering the use of py.test an old but currently maintained option to do testing in python (both unit and functional testing). py.test is a lightweight and easy-to-use tool to perform tests on your code and it has a big plugins repository that allow you to achieve a lot of things when doing your tests (including some django-related plugins or plugins to integrate tests from the standard library unittest or nose).
To end the day an interesting panel about testing (what else?!). The panel was driven by Ali Afshar and the testing experts were:
Some of the questions discussed include:
- Are doctests a good or a bad thing?
- How can we better encourage people to test?
- Which is the best unit testing framework and why?
Some people from the audience shooted some interesting questions aswell.
When the day was finished at the conference, I went back to the ETAP, drop some things on my room and I refreshed me a little bit (it is really hot in bham on July). Then I went down to use the hotel's lobby free wifi and try to find out where the people were going to meet today. Long story short: the wifi didn't work, but I was lucky that Antonio Cuni appeared as I was able to join him in our way to the center of Birmigham.
It was really funny because when he told me his name was Antonio I just told him - "Hey, que tal?" - thinking he was also spanish (c'mon, you see the name??!???) but he is from Italy ;).
We went to the city center and we had a pizza for dinner. We had a nice talk while having dinner, both about his work with Python (he is one of the maintainers of PyPy) and about some other things like the football world cup ;).
After dinner we went to the Walkabout, a really nice place were we join some Zopistas from the netherlands and some other people. What a place, if you ever come to Birmingham, you have to stop by and have a beer listening to the good live music.
Here you have some pictures I took while walking around:
Now off to bed, let's see what happens tomorrow!