Come contribute to open source, come sprint!

PyCon 2017 is in full swing. The last four days of the conference will be development sprints. If you've never heard about sprints before, this is the time when developers, maintainers, regular users/contributors, AND complete newcomers get together and develop features or fix bugs in their favorite projects. Many projects will be sprinting throughout various rooms. Last year there were roughly 500 people sprinting on many different projects.

If you ever thought of contributing to Open Source projects, but did not know where to start, PyCon sprints are a great place to learn new skills. Having the maintainers of the projects sit at the same table with new contributors always helps to solve issues fast.

I am a complete newcomer, don’t know where to start. Is joining development sprints a good idea for me?

Quick answer: yes, of course. Not only do the experienced mentors help new developers at the sprints, we also have some extra help for beginners:

* We try to identify the projects which are good candidates for newcomers.
* Within projects we point newcomers to "easy to fix" bugs or "simple to create" features
* We also have an “Intro to Sprinting” workshop on the last day of the main conference (Sunday, May 21 - Room C123+C124) >> details below.
* We will have sprint ambassadors to answer questions and provide encouragement

In case you did not register for sprints during the registration process, no worries. There are no registration fees for the sprints. You can still come to the sprints and stay for one day OR all four. Also remember that anyone can participate in the sprints (no registration required), even if they are not registered for the main PyCon conference.

Introduction to Sprints Workshop

We will host the “Introduction to Sprints” workshop for first-time sprinters in room C123+C124 @ 5:00. This is a good place to start as there will be experienced sprinters to mentor and coach newcomers. We will teach you, via hands-on exercises, many of the most important technical skills and we will address a number of the soft-skills aspects of participating in sprints to help set you at ease.

Mentors/Teachers: If you want to join us in mentoring newcomers, please sign up here to mentor/teach.

How to prepare for PyCon development sprints?

Maintainer Preparation: If you are a project maintainer, and you want to sprint on your project, this is a good time to add your project details to the event page. Adding your project details to the events page will help people get ready for your project. Remember to create a list of “easy issues” which can be solved by the newcomers during the sprints. Also having clear steps on how to build your project from the source code is always helpful.

Participant Preparation:
If you are planning to participate  in any of the projects during the development sprints:

* As a first step you should update your operating system. Even though there will be the Internet during sprints, having your system ready for development will save time.

* Next step will be installing a version control system, to start you can install both git and Mercurial on your computer. Just in case you are planning to contribute to a project which is written in C/C++, then please install the corresponding compiler on your operating system. i.e: Xcode on your Mac, or make/gcc toolchains on your Linux system (Don't know yet, what your project will need? The project maintainer will help you figure that out, so come anyway).

* Stop by the workshop on Sunday in Rooms C123 and C124 @ 5:00 pm

* The sprints will be spread across a number of rooms. If you are not sure which project you want to work on, please make sure to visit all the rooms and meet the sprinters. We will also have the regular sprints “Help Table” with a list of projects and rooms on a board.

* Just in case you are interested in hardware related projects, we will also have that at the development sprints. Last year, the tables related to MicroPython and Microbit were full during the sprint days.


Introducing Our 2017 Keystone Sponsor: Intel!

It has been a trend over the past several years that our top sponsors — the companies who step forward to make the biggest investment in PyCon and its community — tend to be companies that not only use Python for their own development, but who turn around and offer Python as a crucial tool for their own customers. And that is certainly true of PyCon’s biggest sponsor this year.

PyCon 2017’s Keystone Sponsor is Intel Corporation!

Did you see Intel’s booth in the Expo Hall at PyCon 2016 last year? It was a phenomenon. I remember remarking to a fellow volunteer that Intel was making stunningly good use of their space. Their booth was very nearly a small self-contained conference of its own. It featured a large display and space for a speaker to stand, which Intel used to run a busy schedule of quick presentations and tutorials that focused on both Intel hardware and their support tools for developers. There always seemed to be an attentive crowd gathered whenever I would pass by.

Given Intel’s contribution to last year’s our Expo Hall, I was especially happy when I received word that they are stepping forward as our Keystone sponsor this year.

Intel’s investment in Python is an index of how prominent the language is becoming as a standard tool for data — a startling development for those of us who have traditionally associated computation with arcane compiled languages like Fortran and the C language family. But an easy-to-read and easy-to-write language like Python is of course a perfect fit for professionals who write code not for its own sake, but because they have some bigger job to do.

Whatever data and or compute problem a professional is tackling, they really want a programming language that will get out of their way and let them get their work done. They don’t want to be staring at their code because they are hung up on some sharp edge of a language’s syntax or rules. They want a language that is nearly transparent, that lets them look past the code at the problem they are trying to solve, and Python is filling that role for increasing numbers of people.

As Intel has stepped forward to offer their own distribution of Python — which compiles the language and its data libraries to take the best possible advantage of Intel processors and compute cores — it has been heartening to see their engagement with the existing Python community and its standard open-source tools. For example, instead of proffering yet another install mechanism for Python, Intel not only offers support for the standard “pip” installer but have also partnered with Continuum Analytics — a faithful sponsor of PyCon now for more than half a decade — to deliver their Intel Distribution for Python using Continuum’s “conda” install system that is so beloved by scientists.

The range of data problems against which Python is now flung every day is evidenced by the range of data tools that it now supports. Glancing just at Intel’s latest release notes, for example, one sees mention of a whole range of operations from different domains — Fourier transforms, NumPy vector operations, Scikit-learn machine learning optimizations, and even an accelerated neural network library.

We are excited that the elegant and simple Python language has been discovered by data scientists, academics, professionals, and students. And we are excited that Intel has chosen to support PyCon as our 2017 Keynote Sponsor as part of their own effort to make Intel hardware and compute services a standard choice for Python’s ever-widening community. Thank you!


Don’t Overlook the Open Spaces at PyCon this Year

[A guest post by PyCon 2017’s Open Spaces Chair, Anna Ossowski!]

Open Spaces are one of the most often overlooked activities at the PyCon conference.

PyCon is not merely a 5-track conference — it’s true there are 5 tracks of talks, but there are also 5 tracks of Open Spaces that run alongside the talks.

What are Open Spaces?

Open Spaces are self-organizing meetup-like events which occur in parallel with main conference talks. There are actually more hours of Open Spaces, in total, than there are of talks! While most of the conference is planned months in advance, Open Spaces are created on-site by PyCon attendees. They offer groups the ability to self-gather, self-define, and self-organize in a way that often doesn’t happen anywhere else at PyCon.

Open Spaces are one-hour meetups during the three main conference days, held in meeting rooms within the PyCon convention center. Some people reserve spaces to discuss a favorite technology — like web frameworks, neural nets, or natural language processing — while other people focus an open space on an interest like astronomy, data science, teaching. Other attendees schedule actual activities during Open Spaces, like yoga, nail painting, and board games! Attendees can discover these events via the Open Spaces board which will be next to the registration desk.

Any topic or activity that two or more attendees are interested in could be a good candidate for an Open Space. You can find a list of sample ideas a few pages down in the Open Spaces guide on our web site: https://us.pycon.org/2017/events/open-spaces/

If you have additional ideas, please email us at pycon-openspaces@python.org and we can add them to the list.

An extra day to plan each Open Space!

Like last year, each day will feature two Open Space sign-up boards near the registration area: one for the current day, and one board that is already up for the following day.

This will allow hosts to reserve a slot a full day in advance — creating a longer window for them to advertise the space to interested attendees. And attendees will be able to go ahead and start planning which Open Spaces they want to attend the next day.

In fact, the first Open Spaces board will be up on Thursday evening during the Opening Reception, the evening before the main conference even starts! This will give hosts a chance to reserve a slot for the first day of the conference while it is still the night before.

Promote Your Open Space

We are using the hashtag #PyConOpenSpace again this year. We encourage you to use this hashtag to promote your Open Space. It’s also a great idea to add your Twitter handle to the card that you pin on the Open Space schedule board, in case anyone interested in attending your open space has a question or wants to contact you about it.

The committee is looking forward to all of the great Open Spaces that are awaiting us at PyCon US 2017!


Announcing The Batch of Startup Row Companies At PyCon 2017

(A guest post from Jason D. Rowley, one of 2017’s Startup Row Coordinators!)

What could be more exciting than startups who use Python and are poised to change industries and help build the future?

We are very pleased to announce the seventh batch of companies that get to present on Startup Row. Come and visit Startup Row in PyCon 2017's Expo Hall to see some of the most interesting and innovative new technologies and business models out there, and to hear the engineers and other founders of these leading early-stage companies pitch their ideas and discuss how and why they use Python.

And without further ado, here they are — PyCon 2017’s Startup Row batch:

KITT.AI (Seattle, WA) – A chatbot authoring platform offering conversational understanding as a service, focusing on multi-turn dialog.

Precognitive Inc (Chicago, IL) – Multidimensional fraud protection using device intelligence and behavioral analytics to detect illicit transactions on-the-fly.

Astrohaus (New York, NY) – Maker of the Freewrite, a distraction-free digital typewriter that connects to the cloud for document storage and management.

Give InKind (Seattle, WA) – A single-solution platform for coordinating support from friends and loved ones in times of crisis or need.

Deepgram (San Francisco, CA) – “Google for sound,” Deepgram uses deep neural networks to index audio data and makes it searchable by keyword and other parameters.

Chicory (New York, NY) – Makes online recipes “shoppable” using natural language processing and easy back-end integration with online grocery stores.

UnifyID (San Francisco, CA) – Uses implicit authentication via biometrics and user behavior to make security more seamless.

Flex.io (Chicago, IL) – A web service for building and deploying automated, cloud-based data pipes.

Metapipe (Provo, UT) – Provider of fully-virtualized VFX and animation studio infrastructure that scales on demand.

LeafLink (New York, NY) – A business-to-business marketplace that connects growers and producers of regulated cannabis products to dispensary owners.

Pachyderm (San Francisco, CA) – A data lake offering full version control over massive datasets and containerized data analysis capabilities.

Ledger (San Francisco, CA) – The easiest way to keep a running tab of shared expenses between friends.

Unearth (Seattle, WA) – A collaboration platform for the construction industry, driven by interactive aerial maps of the job site using drones.

Anvil (Cambridge, United Kingdom) – Build full-stack web apps with nothing but Python.

FOSSA (San Francisco, CA) – An open-source software license compliance monitoring service.

Silota (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) – An online SQL editor and data analysis suite for professional data analysts.

We're very excited to have such an excellent batch of companies present at PyCon 2017 in Portland. Again, be sure to check out all the companies in the Expo Hall on May 19th and 20th, and keep an eye out for some of these exciting Python startups at the PyCon jobs fair on May 21st.


Putting together this group would not have been possible without help from a number of people and organizations. This is especially true for the live events we hosted around the country this year!

For our Chicago Event, we’d like to thank ChiPy for help with outreach and Adam Forsyth of Braintree for hosting us. Thanks also to our judges, Marcy and Keith Capron-Vermillion and Tamim Abdul Majid. We also appreciate the generous donation of delicious beer from the Lagunitas Brewing Company.

In New York City, we’d like to thank Benji Decker at WeWork for hosting us at WeWork’s Chelsea location. Thanks to Geoffrey Sechter of Django NYC and Dawn Baker of the Columbia Venture Community (CVC) for helping with outreach. Thanks again to Lagunitas for providing beer at this event.

In Seattle, we’d like to thank our hosts at Avvo: LaQuita Hester, Kalin Woo, and Eileen Kim. The Seattle event fielded a slate of six women founders competing for a spot at PyCon.

In San Francisco, we owe many thanks to our generous hosts at Yelp, and to Grace Law, Simeon Franklin, Daniel Pyrathon and the rest of the SF Python community for hosting Startup Row. Thanks to our judges: Lisa Dusseault, Bebe Chueh, Christine Spang, and Elliott Kroo for joining us. And to Shea Tate Di-Donna, thank you for MC’ing the event.

We’d also like to thank the Python Software Foundation, specifically the support and encouragement we’ve received from Ewa Jodlowska and Brandon Rhodes throughout this season. We also want to acknowledge the Startup Row selection committee who helped select from among the companies that applied through our online application. Finally, we would like to thank Yannick Gingras, the emeritus co-chair of Startup Row, who continues to provide advice and support while on hiatus from active organizing.

Again, to all those who help make Startup Row happen, we thank you and appreciate your support.

Finally, to all the founders who pitched at our live events or applied online, we were impressed by the creative and interesting ways everyone uses Python to build great software and scalable businesses. This was one of the strongest applicant pools yet, and we’d love to see qualifying companies apply again next year for a second shot.

We wish all of you the best of luck — and to those companies on Startup Row, we’ll see you in Portland!