Python African Tour and beyond

May 23, 2010

While the Python African Tour (a.k.a. PAT) events are now underway, here is a wrap-up of some feedback and current thoughts about contributing through the organization of Python learning activities in Africa.

The New vs. the Old, again

When you talk to most people, you find that the Python language is underrated or new to them. C, Java, and PHP… it’s okay. But Python ?

Python could get a decent base of users in the medium to long term, if some influential guys in the university and entrepreneur spheres are aware of its advantages and decide to introduce it in their toolset or work environment.

Now, there is hope ; we’ve met guys from this new generation in Morocco, Senegal… and we are meeting others in Nigeria in a few weeks. In fact, these are the people who have been initiators and resource people in the process of organizing PAT events.

PAT Senegal team

PAT Senegal team - (c) DakarLUG

User Groups

The Senegal PAT event was hosted with the help of DakarLUG, a small but very active group of people spreading the Linux and Open Source message there (install parties, demos, and all that).

Seems we were lucky… From my perception, it is hard to find active local geek or learning communities, at least in the francophone world which I am more connected to.  Though this might be less true today, with the local barcamps, LUGs and Google Technology User Groups that have been launched these last two years.

Community is key to spreading Open Source ideas, practices and solutions, and if we can’t have local communities I am afraid this is going to be even more difficult.

We are helping to improve that situation ourselves, since in addition to the Python workshop, we have been organizing a camp day for a larger public, with presentations of interesting technologies and development practices.

Tools and applications, a.k.a. solutions

Ok, people want solutions… They have problems to solve.

While we want to not simply consume solutions, but be able to extend and hack around them, it helps a lot to quickly introduce interesting tools and applications (and platforms) to the people.

The current focus of PAT for this includes two domains where Python is really strong:

  • Web Frameworks (Django but not limited to). In the future, we should extend this with the “client” side of things (mobile, JavaScript, HTML5…)
  • Scientific tools (SciPy, NumPy)… for people coming from research departments.
Camp day - SciPy presentation by Emmanuelle

PAT Senegal / Emmanuelle Gouillart presenting Scientific tools - (c) DakarLUG

Sustaining and going forward

Last but not least, we need that students having participated to the workshop become contributors. This means they need to practice after the PAT event, so they need ongoing mentoring and small projects to work on.

One trick is to convince the head of the CS/Research department we meet in the universtity or school, to introduce Python in the curriculum, or allow students to use Python for their school projects. This gave encouraging results in Dakar.

An idea I have been nurturing is running our own kind of SoC program. This is the next phase, and more details coming soon.

Contact me if you want to share more thoughts, experiences, or contribute to any aspect of this.

Promoting Python and Plone in Africa

November 7, 2008

It seems that only South Africa had an event listed as part of the World Plone Day set of local events. As an african, I am of course interested by this fact, and I would have expected some Plone presence in another region. Hopefully, we can fix that for next year’s edition !

I am promoting an effort called Python African Tour which aims at sending volunteers, within the next couple of years, in the different regions of Africa, based on sponsoring, to train beginner developers there on Python and its related technologies. It’s a way to introduce newbies there to a programming language that helps the developer get his job done, as well as all the community practices that help us improve our daily work. It’s also a way to get new developers join the Python community.

The first country the tour will visit is Morocco, in December, from the 18th to the 22nd. Among the possible countries to plan in 2009 are Nigeria and South Africa. Obviously our plans will depend on discussions with local contacts we get, and sponsoring possibilities.

For Morocco, Amine Soulaymani, a developer living in Morocco, and Daniel Nouri have volunteered to participate as instructors for the students at Ecole Mohammedia d’Ingenieurs, ­the school that will host the Python training session.
In addition to the training session during the first 2 days, we plan to have 3 days of community activities: an unconference-style open event with demos and talks related to Python, followed by a sprint that will be hosted in the offices of Nextma, a solution provider doing Python. Talks and sprint activities should cover Plone, with the participation of a PloneGov / CommunesPlone team joining us from Belgium, WSGI / Repoze and ­OpenERP with contributors from Nextma.

On a side note, I have proposed a talk with Roberto Allende for next year’s Pycon to present our ideas and actions to help spread Python in both South America and Africa.

If you want to contribute in any way, ­­contact us through the project’s mailing list.

Not at the Plone conference

October 7, 2008

Unfortunately, I was unable to go to DC for the Plone conference.

I want to apologize to the people who were expecting to follow the tutorial on z3c.form, which had to be canceled.

I am thinking about submitting an improved version of that tutorial proposal for Pycon 2009, and I hope to be there and meet some of you.

Have fun, and let the people know it ! Zope is back (in various forms ;)), and we are going toward more successes in the coming years.

Preparing for the Plone conference

October 5, 2007

Since a few days, I have started focusing on my talks material.

Some details about the talks I will be giving:

  • Anti-patterns, patterns and rules of thumb for successful Plone projects. My subtitle for this talk is, well, “Things to avoid and things to do !”. It is difficult to give advices in this area, and any advice needs to be confronted to the real context. But it would be interesting to share ideas and feelings about how we (meaning User, Project Manager, Developer) better cooperate and get the job done for our projets. Hope to see you there !
  • The plateform, the framework and the coach. I will be advocating a “coaching” approach for helping technical teams, within the enterprise, to get on board and be able to develop/maintain their in-house applications.
  • Let the machine work for you. Using Plone 3 content rules… I will try to discuss interesting use case examples, and how you set up the content rules for them.

It’s the second Plone conference I will be attending ; I was in Vienna two years ago, and I know it’s a very special atmosphere ! I am coming with Encolpe, a colleague at Ingeniweb. See you all there !.

Hourah, Plone 3 is out !

August 24, 2007

The much awaited Plone 3 is out ! You can see the announcement here. For those interested, I made a news about it on the french community site

Alse, we are all excited about the coming Plone conference in Naples. (Stay tuned for more about this event !)