EuroPython 2007 Python Papers Article
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Now in its sixth year, EuroPython - known more formally as the European Python and Zope conference - moves on once again. Upholding the EuroPython tradition of helping European Python users and others to learn more about Python and its uses, the conference is also a great opportunity to become acquainted with different parts of the European continent. This year, EuroPython descends upon Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, calling it home from Monday 9th July until Wednesday 11th July 2007. Although the programme for this year's conference has yet to be finalised, reports and materials from last year's highly successful event may be persuasive for those considering making EuroPython 2007 part of their schedule.
EuroPython 2006 was held at one of Europe's most significant scientific sites: CERN (the European laboratory for particle physics research) in Geneva, Switzerland. With superb facilities and a rich programme of highly informative, entertaining and inspiring talks, along with an unparalleled backdrop of seriously big (and historic) scientific hardware, the conference proved to be at least as memorable as those in previous years. As anticipated, Python's benevolent dictator for life, Guido van Rossum, provided one of the conference keynotes, choosing to focus on Python 3000 and the road ahead for the language. The other keynote provided fresh insights from a different perspective on computing, with the legendary figure of Alan Kay (personal computing and Smalltalk pioneer), unable to attend in person, appearing via a video link on the big screen in CERN's main auditorium. Presenting a selection of demonstrations and insights into the role of computing technology in the education of younger children, he highlighted the One Laptop Per Child project and its high Python content as an opportunity to introduce children to a more interactive and inquisitive form of learning than is often employed in schools around the world.
Many informative talks and presentations provided the focus for the conference, demonstrating Python's suitability in a wide range of environments, from Web programming to graphical user interfaces, collaborative development practices and personal information management applications. These even included a talk about Indico, the basis for EuroPython's conference management site (http://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=44). More advanced technical themes, such as version control, scientific computing and visualisation, were also covered. Talks about Python and its implementations were not excluded, and the European Union-funded PyPy project maintained a presence after the official end of proceedings to run one of many "sprints". These focused development efforts encourage collaboration between experts and beginners with the aim of making improvements to projects, raising levels of expertise, and providing hands-on experience to new recruits.
Of course, EuroPython is not just about talks and sprints. As is often noted by attendees at conferences like EuroPython, the social aspects of such a gathering can often provide unforeseen value in the conversations and discussions which take place between talks or at the planned social events. Spontaneous and seemingly inconsequential chat can often reveal details of fellow participants' expertise or experiences that would not be exposed through the talk programme alone. Although it is possible to make important contacts and exchange expertise without attending any of the talks, we wouldn't in any way recommend such an extreme approach!
Registration for EuroPython 2007 should already be open by the time you read this, and for those of you not already convinced of a journey to Lithuania this July, a talk schedule should be available in the near future. With luck, you will be able to peruse the final list of talks and still be able to register early for the conference, earning yourself a discount on the registration fee. Find out more and start planning your trip on the EuroPython Web site: http://www.europython.org/