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EuroPython 2008, Day 1

Posted on Julij 7th, 2008 in python |

Here are some flashbacks from today’s schedule.

My god it’s full of files by Tommi Virtanen was a talk about different abstractions of the file system throughout the software world and the lack of the Pythonic one. A special emphasis was on the abstraction provided by the different VFS modules, that allow developers the luxury of treating ZIP files as if they were just another folder on your hard drive and also similarly abstracting away the remoteness of the network file systems. There are several implementations, ranging from FUSE with kernel support, KIO that comes with KDE, GnomeVFS and newer GVFS from the Gnome Project. What surprised Markos was the fact, that neither Windows or OS X have built in support for comprehensive VFS abstraction, that would support accessing remote files as if they were on a local file system. The advances of using a module for file system abstraction could be, besides the network, also as a file system for testing purposes where a script could be tested to properly manipulate files in /etc, or, for example, testing program behavior in some strange conditions, for example when the disk is full.

The talk was a comprehensive overview of the VFS world and we found out that twisted has a broken VFS implementation (as of 2008). But the talk was only an overview and the implementation is to be left to the conference attendants. What was new for me, was the Allmydata Tahoe encrypted distributed file system. Hopefully I’ll have some time to see how it performs.

Why I want you to use eggs by Ignas Mikalajūnas was a presentation or rather more of a motivational talk to use Python eggs. I didn’t quite grasp what exactly the advantages were, but yes, eggs had some issues and now it’s supposed to be much better. Be cool and use them.

PyPy status by Maciej Fijalkowski was an excellent talk about the current state of PyPy. The room was full and PyPy seems to be generating a lot of interest this year. The interface to C is done via Ctypes module, which is a bit slow, but is getting better. They’ve got the SQLite bindings working and demoed Django running on pypy-c. Django however still relies on one obscure CPython internal quirk, but 1.0 is to be PyPy compatible. Pylons, Twisted and Nevow work as should most of the pure Python code. There is however a lack of C library bindings, which they can’t really afford to develop, if we want to see PyPy release by the end of the year.

PyPy uses proper garbage collection, not reference counting, so there are some interesting cases, where code snippets fail, for example

open('xxx','w').write('foo')
var = open('xxx').read()

will not work correctly, because the garbage collector will not discover that file descriptor is not reachable by the time the second line is executed.

PyPy-C speed is from 0.8 to 2x slower compared to CPython, and they are progressing slowly but steadily. The bets are on JIT.

What I liked was the fact, that the team dumped half of their semi-cool stuff, that wasn’t fully working and wasn’t that important for the PyPy. Doing that they might actually manage to release in time.

Building data mashups with SnapLogic by Mike Pittaro. A presentation about SnapLogic, a framework for creating a distributed processing pipeline that enables you to simply use different sources, either a file or a DB or a stream from somewhere and do some processing on it and pass it on to another process or out of the system. What impressed me was the ability to join database tables and records in files. While the operation is fairly simple, it’s not often implemented. Mike was creating an example to draw information from different Trac instances and aggregate them in one place, so he can have a better overview of the system.

Data portability and Python by Christian Scholz was a talk about all the semantic buzz words. OpenID, oAuth, FOAF, XFN, RDF, XRDS, microformats and whatnot. Great for newcomers to technologies behind the social networks. Christian is the author of pydataportability Python packages and showed us some snippets of the library in action.

Later in the evening was the Guido’s keynote about the upcoming Python 3.0 release and the pros and cons with Q&A. Nothing particularly new, Python 3.0 will hopefully deal with the unicode errors and bring some fresh air in Python.

That about covers it for today.

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