08 October 2011

PyCON DE 2011 - My Report

The PyCON DE 2011 is just over, sprints are still happening over the weekend, but my wife wouldn’t allow me to stay away for that long, so it’s not for me this time. Maybe next time.

Right now I feel very happy and excited that I went there. What a great experience this was.

It was the first German PyCON and clearly it was overdue as it was now the merger of many already grown up communities. A huge number of talks over 3 days in 3 parallel tracks, with 3 keynotes, was an outstanding program. And very well run. Strict time management, every detail was well prepared.

I can only admire the professional preparation and setup. I wanted to say thank you deeply. I didn’t consider it possible to be this good. Clearly not a first time.

I enjoyed the talks, most often in the technical track, but other tracks would have been very interesting too. The parallelism was making me do hard decisions.


The food was great too. I esp. liked the Asian day, but there was also Italian and French, and what many liked very much is that there was a Vegan food offer too. I do not live vegan style, but I appreciate good food and the vegan food often is that.

Social Event

The social event was a visit to a “Variete” (music hall, French origin), where I am sure, there will be images posted, I currently found this one , that my wife will find interesting too.


The quality of the organization team, the city “Leipzig”, where we also got to have a guided city tour of fantastic enthusiasms, was very high. I knew Leipzig from earlier visits and liked it before, but this time it seemed everybody was even friendlier.


The convention place “Kubus” was very well chosen, absolutely ideal. It’s got good equipment, and that large room setup, where you can make a split with movable walls, and have 3 big screens. The acoustics were pretty damn good there.

My own Presentation

As to my own presentation, it was well received, although I sort of regret that I agreed to have only 30m instead of original plan of 60m. I had so much to say.

I ended up with getting my manifesto part out, but that one pretty well. And it’s OK I guess, because nobody really listens that long anyway. And my major points came across that way.

That focus on my Nuitka “manifesto” was probably a good idea. The talk will be available online as a video, I will link it then. The PDF that I presented only a small part of, is linked here. I believe it went pretty well.

I will use that content from the PDF in updated documentation (currently ongoing in PDF is work to use REST and document a lot more). The presentation was created with “rst2pdf”, which I find is a fantastic tool.


Cython / lxml

Then contacts!

Early on I already made contacts with interesting people, e.g. with Dr.Stefan Behnel, author of lxml and core Cython developer. I him offered a beer for using his software in the best of Free Software traditions. He doesn’t drink these, but a large mango juice counts too or so I assume.

We also talked about Cython and Nuitka, and the common history we had as well. For some time, I attempted to change Cython, but that failed to get the developers support at the time. Not wanting to deviate from PyRex clearly isn’t the state anymore, but that was then.

We also had a evening session of showing each other the good and bad parts, comparing was quite fun. And it was quite interesting to the both of us. I believe we made friends and will only benefit another.

We discussed my goals, and I think we came to the conclusion that they are in fact different enough from Cythons. Although I go away with the sense, that of course Stefan believes, it would be better if I joined Cython. Naturally.

But that’s not going to happen. I think i have a cleaner and better implementation now, closer to my goals with a realistic chance to succeed. To me it would be a step back to fix language parsing issues and incompatibilities of Cython, with the danger that my goals will not be shared.

As an example of these things, I would mention function call errors, where e.g. Cython gives different and sometimes worse error messages than CPython, and I designed the code so that it does things in that same order than CPython does.

It do not want to give different error messages, and who knows, somebody may check for the exception text and expect CPython output. In this case, I will rather accept a worse performance, than an incompatibility.

Eliminating function parameter parsing for the whole program as far as possible is going to be more worthwhile anyway.

But in my mind, Cython is something I can and do recommend. For as long as I am not able to declare Nuitka “useful” yet. That statement may come within a year though. In my mind, in many fields Nuitka is already superior.


Another interesting contact I made, was with the author of PyHasse. It’s Rainer Bruggemann, who is a really nice and witty guy. He introduced me to how he applies graph theory to multi-parameter optimization problems.

We agreed that we will try and work together on this project. Hopefully it will come to pass. One thing I personally wanted, was to get into contact with people who understand or are part of the scientific community.

I can see what NumPy is. But I may never know myself what it really is, unless I find proxies, and make these kind of contacts. The same thing is true of Django, or e.g. Mercurial. I am positive though that with time, and such conferences, my knowledge of these will only grow.

We said that we will try and see how far we can go. In the worst case, Nuitka will not yet be useful, but I will have a clearer image what is needed.


I saw the presentation from Jan Dittberner and met him later too, asking him questions, and generally discussing Debian packaging of Nuitka. He encouraged me to contact the Debian Python Team, and so I will.

I used the chance to make contact with a Debian guy, who made a presentation on how to package Python modules for Debian. He gave me hints on how to solve that “find files near me” issue that plagues Nuitka just as much as other software. Really kind and helpful guy and clearly I admire Debian Developers, keep up the good work.


I also made contacts with lots of other people. Python is diverse and it was fun to get to know, many people with similar and entirely different backgrounds.

The mood was extremely constructive. Nuitka was well received, but that’s not why I say it. There is that general sense of respect around that German community, you can feel how pretty much everybody is well established and doesn’t have to disprove the others.


One keynotes speaker had a part about how trolling and hate is bad for a community, but that’s not the German Python community.

Another keynote speaker (Paul Everitt) had a part about how Zope, which was kind of his project, failed in many ways. He seemed to be quite disappointed about that, which triggered me to point out, that he should start his story with Apache, and not see the “failure to integrate” as a failure.

If there had not been Apache failing, there wouldn’t have been Zope, and then not Django, etc. that’s kind of normal and actually good. He agreed and pointed out how Apache was created from another project that had failed to integrate people.

You either fork a projects code, or ideas. The fork still should credit and appreciate the predecessor/origin.

In my mind, Cython failed to integrate me. Which triggered me to come up with Nuitka, and as I will point out over time (there ought to be postings and there probably will be), some better approaches.

So not integrating me is not necessarily a failure. If it were not for Cython, there would not be Nuitka. The original projects will regret the fork/remake, but they probably shouldn’t. Competition is good.

Lets repeat that

I believe the PyCON DE 2011 was a huge success. I will most likely go again to update people on Nuitka. It’s already clear there will be a PyCON DE 2012 I understand. And I am aiming for a slot at PyCON EU 2012 next year too. I wanted to go in 2011, but need to not put it in my early booked holiday again.

But you know what Murphy says about that.

Kay Hayen