DjangoCon 2012 Recap

DjangoCon    Django    2012-09-10

Note: I started writing this on the evening of the last day of sprints at this year's DjangoCon.

I can't believe the week is over already. It's Saturday night at the Hyatt in Crystal City, just south of Washington D.C. The last of the die-hard sprinters have packed up their laptops, left the Washington Post building, and are heading back on the Metro. I've said goodbye to a few friends that I'll see again in March, at PyCon, and I'll be saying goodbye to a few more that I likely won't see for another year.

This was my fifth DjangoCon. Back in 2008, I was just one of a handful of women at the very first, held on the Google campus in Mountain View, California. I heard a few people mention how sad it was that there were so few women here, but as someone who's been coming to this thing from the beginning, I can tell you that the headcount just keeps going up and up. I would guess that the number of women has more than quadrupled since 2008.

I'm happy to announce that Portland, Oregon is about to have its own PyLadies chapter. Things won't really kick off until I get back to the city and have a chance to do some planning, but you can keep an eye on us here:


The hot games keeping us all entertained this year after conference hours: Cards Against Humanity, Starcraft (I'm still not sure who won the tournament), and M:TG.

Through the years, the talks have just gotten better and better - here are the highlights, from my point of view:

Tuesday, September 4:

  • Keynote, Eric Sterling: I understand that there was some grousing because the topics he addressed did not, at first blush, seem to have much to do with technology. Yes, you had to wait until the end of the talk to get to the punchline: Mr. Sterling illustrated some of the ways in which horrible U.S. government policy decisions have been shaped under the cover of ignorance, because the electorate is so often uninformed (sometimes deliberately). But the world is beginning to change - every day sees new ways for us to communicate with each other and to share information, and every day brings us more access to the data on the who votes for what and where the money comes from. It's up to us as technologists to keep building the tools that open government up to the people. And it's particularly significant that we as open source advocates bring that ethos to the world of open government.

  • Maintaining Your Sanity While Maintaining Your Open Source App, Mark Lavin: The do's and don't's of packaging, documentation, and all of the other things you stay on top of when you release your app into the wild for others to use and/or contribute to. Slides can be found here:

  • Debugging Live Python Web Applications, Amjith Ramanujam: An overview of safe and efficient ways to monitor and debug your web application in a live environment. Amjith is an employee at New Relic, but the presentation gave fair focus to a number of different open source and commercial tools (New Relic included, but not exclusively). I believe this is the same talk that was given at PyCon AU last month, and those slides can be found here:

  • Views can be Classy!, Kenneth Love: Switching over to class-based views when you've been accustomed to method-based views can be tough, but this talk breaks through the confusion with some good suggested use cases, and a little evangelizing about why we should be using class-based views in the first place (it's more Pythonic!). Slides can be found here:

  • Django on Gevent, Cody Soyland: Want to integrate gevent greenlets into your Django application but not sure how to get started? This is the talk for you - a clear, concise overview of how to make your app greener! Slides can be found here:

  • DSF Keynote, Russell Keith-Magee: Dr. Russell Keith-Magee is the face of the Django framework for most of us, and this year he followed his annual accounting of how the DSF works and what they've been up to lately with an enthusiastic reminder that the DSF needs volunteers! One of the big projects that they're looking for someone to coordinate is a Django store - an official place to sell the Django branded merchandise that is ever in demand. I'm not sure that slides from this keynote have been posted yet, but you might want to join the newly reactivated DSF volunteers Google group and keep an eye on that space for updates:

  • PostgreSQL when it's not your job, Christophe Pettus: A quick, thorough guide to optimizing Postgres, aimed not at the DBA, but at the developer pulled into DBA duty. Slides can be found here:

  • API Design Tips, Daniel Lindsley: API guru Daniel Lindsley rocks the house with a little bit of philosophy and a little bit of code to get you thinking about smart API design. Slides can be found here:

Wednesday, September 5:

Thursday, September 6:

(Fair disclosure: I missed a lot of the talks on Thursday because I stayed up too late working on PyCon talk proposals with the PyLadies on Wednesday night. But it was so worth it.)

  • Is Django for Designers?, Julia Elman: The short answer is 'Absolutely!' (with a few provisos and tips). Slides can be found here:

  • Get off the bench: Making the leap from user to contributor, Russell Keith-Magee: Don't let your enthusiasm for the community fade post-conference - stay involved! Here, Russell covers the basics of triaging tickets, submitting patches, and other ways you can contribute to the codebase. I'm not sure if the slides are online (once I find out I'll update this post). In the meantime, if you take away nothing else from this talk, make it this: