A few weeks back, several of us codemonkeys participated in PloneCon in San Francisco. Plone, the software, is an open source content management system built on the grand-daddy of all Python web frameworks: the open source application server Zope. Though at SurveyMonkey we do not use Plone or Zope, folks who worked on Zope and related technologies (including Tim Peters and Guido) invented a significant number of the python technologies on which we now depend.
And, as the saying goes, everyone loves a Plone event because there ain’t no party like a plone party. Plone has it’s own twist on the python social traditions and a history of killer get togethers all over the world (Castle, check. Skiing in the alps, check. Norwegian island fortress, check). This conference, the first in the bay area, ended up a warm reunion of former Zope/Plone alumni and current participants in a still thriving ten year old opensource project.At the Monkey, we were psyched to participate in PloneCon’s related technologies track. Especially since that track prominently featured the python web framework Pyramid. We use Pyramid extensively at the Monkey and are fond of it’s simplicity and modularity. We also appreciate the high caliber of the community surrounding Pyramid and the Pylons Project, particularly their dedication to code quality, documentation, and performance. We were lucky enough to have Pyramid project lead Chris McDonough drop by the SurveyMonkey offices to give us some tips on porting our older Pylons framework applications and best practices in general.
There were a ton of great talks in the related tech track. Both Pylons Project leads Ben Bangert and Chris McDonough spoke. Pyramid core committer Micheal Merickel spoke on how to use the powerful pyramid authorization system. Harry Tormey of Mog gave a great talk on tracking errors for Android and other mobile operating systems using pyramid and mongodb. Rob Marianski of the Open Society Institute delivered a humorous talk on managing complexity for large codebases. And our very own Alex Conrad gave a well received talk on Pyramid specific middleware (aka “tweens”).
Then, there was the party on Treasure Island. You can count the number of opensource communities that throw down as hard as Plone on one finger. The party held true to the rep featuring an aerialist, flame throwing dueling robots, art cars, DJs, two bars (one dedicated to pisco) and some kickass food trucks.
Talks and party aside, I usually enjoy the sprints at events like this the most. Python sprints emit a vibe similar to a hackathon, but with a more social laidback atmosphere. There is no better place to learn and get to know people you usually only communicate with over email or irc. All in all, there were about 30 people sprinting on Pyramid and related topics over the two-days of sprint.
Wufooer-turned-monkey Tim Sabat and I worked on CheesePrism, a package index for python using – SURPRISE – the pyramid framework. We were working beside Rob Miller from the Mozilla Services Team and we enjoyed hearing about their plans and progress for ‘Sangrada‘ their opensource PaaS for support all the good stuff Mozilla does.
In conclusion, we learned a lot and got to meet a lot of great people. I’d like to give a special thanks to conference organizers Liz Leddy and Tom Kapanka as well as all the bunny ear wearing volunteers. It was a blast!
If you missed PloneCon, but are into python web programming, never fear. Looking forward to 2012, SurveyMonkey will be a proud platinum sponsor of PyCon 2012. Keep an ear out for monkey hijinks around the time of the conference! We look forward to raising a pint and maybe hacking some code with you.