Jun 9, 2011
Picture by the Horst Gutmann (@zerok)
We just came back from DjangoCon, which took place in the lovely city of Amsterdam. It was my first DjangoCon, Stephan has already been at a DjangoCon in Prague 2009.
It was really great: I have visited a few conferences (as speaker and listener) in my life, but this one was really outstandingly good. It had only one track of talks, so you could see all the talks without missing anything. That was the first great thing about the conference - the whole event was run very smoothly in general. Even the music in the breaks mirrored this fact by being pleasant, relaxing and being just fun to listen.
The other great thing was, that there were no talks, that were actually just advertising for the speakers company, start-up or project. All the talks focused on a problem and described how the managed to solve the problem. So we heard a lot about scaling, new interesting ways on how to use django, other stuff that are vital for growing start-ups or just some lightning talk on doing good.
Andy McKay (@andymckay) from Mozilla talked about how they are serving 500+ billion (!) api requests a day with a lot of Django. Jesper Noehr (@jespern) from BitBucket talked about how their infrastructure scales automatically to meet high traffic periods. Idan Gazit (@idangazit) gave an overview about how he is designing websites for various screen resolutions and devices (i.e. showing some real world examples of the hip term "Responsive Design"). Zack Voase (@zacharyvoase), who seems to be a very talented newcomer, boosted his github follower counter from a handful of people to about 70 by giving a great talk about writing resource oriented apps in django. He also did a lightning talk about his django-qmixins project, which judging by his code and documenation, seems very well documented and mature. Steve Holden (@holdenweb) talked about how to make the world a little better with almost no afford.
For write ups of the talks visit http://reinout.vanrees.org/weblog/tags/djangocon.html and have a look at everything betweeen 2011-06-06 and 2011-06-08.
The other great thing about DjangoCon were the people. Very bright and open-minded people. It was great to hear some of their war stories in the breaks between the talks or when going out at night.
Most of them with a lot of experience in terms of large scale applications. So I heard about problems, I surely will encounter someday and also learned about ways on how to solve those issues. That's almost priceless. But only mentioning our geeky discussions would not hold up to the great nights/evenings we had in amsterdam: While the evening grew older, the discussions shifted to being more philosophical or wildly discussing some real world problems, exchanging literature or movie tips and so on. You probably might not expect that when going out with a bunch of nerds most of them knowing for just a day, would you?
It was also the first bigger open source conference I attended. And the special thing about DjangoCon is, that after the conference it possible to attend another two days with sprints. The attendees gather with everyone who wants to join (the sprints are for free) and work on Django itself or whichever project one is willing to support. So, users (including some the core developers) and newbies interested in contributing have a great way to start working on Django. Developing some feature they are missing, fixing some bugs, improving the documentation and so on. This year I did not sign up for the sprints, because I did not yet know the concept and did not feel as if I would be a great fit comparing to all those core developers: But by now I pretty much wished I had decided otherwise, since everybody should be able to contribute easily in some way. There should be no excuse and I am sure I missed a lot of great fun.
For one more sidenote: We also had free bicycles during our stay in amsterdam, sponsored by I amsterdam. So we could cruise through the city on our 'own' bikes. Awesome!
All in all, those last three days were just great and inspiring. See you next year in Zürich!
(by anton pirker)