Tuesday, 08 May 2012 08:08

Hobart to host Python conference in August

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Two years ago, the first PyCon Australia, a conference devoted to the Python programming language, was held in Sydney because the local developer community saw the need for a targeted conference.

Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. Held under the auspices of Linux Australia, PyCon 2012 is taking place on August 18 and 19 in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania.

At its helm this time are two young men, Christopher Neugebauer and Joshua Hesketh, both of whom have more than earned their stripes in free and open source software circles in the country.

Says Neugebauer, a 23-year-old software developer, "My first attempt at organising a Python developer day led me to propose an (ultimately rejected) Python miniconf for linux.conf.au 2009 in Hobart."

The annual Australian national Linux conference, organised on behalf of Linux Australia, is better known as linux.conf.au. It is hosted in a different city each year.

Since 2010, Neugebauer has organised and conducted the Open Programming Miniconf at linux.conf.au. He says, " it has provided a focal point for developers using many languages (including Python) at LCA".

Christopher Neugebauer

Neugebauer (left) works on Android development with Secret Lab, a development studio in Hobart. He says that while his day job does not involve writing a lot of Python code, he has been using the language in his work, studies, and for fun since 2004.

Linux Australia, the umbrella organisation for Linux user groups in the country, had for a long time confined itself to organising just the one conference. Held annually in January, it has come to be known as one of the better Linux conferences worldwide and attracts a goodly crowd every year.

A few years ago, Linux Australia decided to broaden its umbrella. Since then, it has provided the backing for conferences devoted to Drupal, WordPress and Python. Additionally this year it sponsored the AdaCamp, a camp for women organised by The Ada Initiative which aims to try and increase the number of women participating in technology.

Though the annual Linux conference has been hosted by a different city in Australia every year, with the occasional foray across the Tasman, in the case of PyCon, a city hosts the conference two years running. Hobart will, thus, host the event in 2013 as well.


Neugebauer says that while there are more than 20 Python conferences worldwide, with the US event being the biggest and best-known, "the conferences aren't ranked - each region's PyCon supports its local Python community. This means that Python communities, throughout the world, including Australia's community, get an opportunity to learn more about Python in a setting that's somewhat closer to home than other conferences".

He says that this does not mean that the conference is limited to Australian participation; "this year, we've attracted presentation proposals from New Zealand and the United States, amongst others."

There are several conferences focused a lot more generally than PyCons. "Those sorts of conferences, if they feature Python content at all, there isn't usually that much, and the focus is aimed at people who don't necessarily have much Python experience," explains Neugebauer.

"Dedicated PyCons allow us to dive much more deeply into topics of interest to people with Python experience, or those with a desire to dive into the deep end. The first PyCon Australia in Sydney in 2010 attracted 200 people; more than 25 presentations took place over two days."

Python is widely used in industry, government, research and education. "Python is used in similar situations to many other languages, including Perl, as well as Ruby, Java, and many others," says Neugebauer. "I like to think that choice of programming language is a personal one - I like using Python  (so much that I'm running a Python conference), and it's great that there are so many other Python developers around Australia and beyond who can support a Python conference here in Australia."

Linux Australia provides some of the infrastructure back-up for the conference. Neugebauer says early bird registrations are now open, with tickets available at the discounted rate of $A44 for students, $A165 for Enthusiasts and $A420 for professionals. These prices are available for the first 60 tickets sold, or until Friday, June 1.

Announcements about the keynotes and the general conference programme will be made in the coming weeks on the conference website and also on Twitter.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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