Europython’s report: a general feedback

6 minute read

What: Europython conference
Where: Florence, Hotel Mediterraneo
When: from 1st July to 8th July 2012
Who: me and other 750+ nerds, worldwide
Why: we love python!

So Europython is a conference about a great programming language. This year, like the last year, it was located in Florence and organised by Python Italia with a wonderful support of www.develer.com. This post doesn’t want to be a story about my Europython but it would be an analysis from the point of view of attendee. If you are interested on what happened there, you can read many stories following the twitter stream. Just for the record I worked last year to help the company that provided WiFi connection, so I’m a bit aware about problems related to the organisation of the conference. Let’s start with the analysis of every single thing giving some personal hint

Location
Florence, Hotel Mediterraneo. Nice city, nice venue, close to the river and not far from the city centre. Big enough to host seven tracks (including two trainings), and 750+ people. There has been some issue the first day when there was just a track and all the attendees were split in two big rooms where the upper one was connected audio/video. For the remaining days all the rooms have been big enough to host all the tracks: just some tracks was a bit overcrowded but the organisers doubled the track more popular. This year there has been also a “garden” in the rear of the hotel but personally I’ve never been there: too hot, no wi-fi (just in a small area).

Schedule and timing
Schedule busy, very busy but with regular breaks: one in the morning, lunch, and another break in the afternoon. So good timing. Nothing to say. Maybe yes, but after.

Duration
I think that organisers thought enough to optimise everything in one week: 5 days of talks and two days of sprint. Actually 4 days of talks because the first one has been kind of introduction to the conference with the VIP talks. So the schema is 1 + 4 + 2. Is there anything that the organisers can do to optimise it? Maybe yes.

Contents
Contents covered many stuff: web, testing, HPC, databases, community, cases, programming model, projects status, health (yes, health!), frameworks, GPU, graphics, mobile, future, music, and many others. For the content available have a look to the schedule https://ep2012.europython.eu/p3/schedule/ep2012/
The first thing that come up to your mind is: “cool! A lot of stuff!” And it is, I agree. But when you are there, maybe it’s different. Something can be changed, in better obviously.
Poster session: anyone did use it? Lighting talks: perfect! :)

Connection and tech things
I don’t want to go to the core of the last year problems about the connection, but the organisers have learnt the lesson. The result is that this year the connection has been much better stable and faster. There have been problems (they are everywhere) but solved at a record time. About the connection I can suggest just something after. Other tech things.. oh yes.. the “help desk”: I’ve never used it but the idea was great! I hope that people used it and looking the schedule there was some sold out. iPhone and Android app was very useful for whom that didn’t want to carry on the book.
Oh yes, how to forget the intranet: I didn’t use it but I’m sure that has been useful for many speaker and for the help desk. Great idea!
Video and streaming: I think the best techie thing ever. Live streaming and videos ready to download from the intranet. If you want, all the videos are on youtube :) Great job!

Events
Tag cocktails, help desk, pybirra, pyfiorentina, google code jam, prize draw, pyriddle, sprint: a lot of stuff! Very cool and always something to do. Sure you didn’t get bored. Everything was nice, except “tag cocktails”. I didn’t like that many people could come because that didn’t have the “pass”: this pass gave you a free cocktail and if you had wanted another cocktail, you would have paid it. So what’s the problem? My solution is to give the free access to everyone and a free cocktail just to whom had the pass. The terrace was big enough to host more and more people.

Nice view from Cocktail Terrace

Food
I’m Italian and I care about the food. Good food means good attitude that helps a lot the progress of the conference (I think). In Hotel Mediterraneo the food is very good and talking with many of the attendees I had the same feedback. So congratulations to the hotel. Just a quick note: horrible coffee but at least we had free coffee at the bar.

People and VIPs
How can a conference be without interesting people? This year we’ve got many of them: Guido Van Rossum, Alex Martelli, PyPy staff and many others key members of python community. They were there, with you: you could swing by them and have a chat. It’s been incredible, and very nice. I couldn’t ask better :)

Companies
This year Europython has seen the presence of many key companies: Spotify, Google, Red Hat, 10Gen, BitBucket, Python Academy, DemonWare, Enthought, Gymglish and many others. All of them were there to promote python in their own company and to hire talented people. For whom looks for a job it’s been a great opportunity. More or less, last year my adventure began with Europython (read more here). You could stop by in front the desk of the company, have a chat, give your CV, solve the crazy puzzles and take home some nice gadget. I WANTED THE RED HAT but the only way to have it is working for Red Hat :)
Oh yes, Josette is a fixed point of Europython: she sells O’Reilly’s book with a great discount.

Women
The double of last year: great improvement! 8% among us were women! Following the logic of Marco Beri, on 2016 there will be 128% of women! :) Not bad! :P Congratulation also to Lynn Root for her hard work to bring into the Python community more women.

General stuff
In this category I put everything that I’ve forgotten earlier. Welcome pack: google bag with a lot of brochure, two t-shirts and a MongoDB mug to use it instead of plastic glasses. All the process to buy the ticket was straightforward: you could book (If you were fast enough) also the room, sharing with other pythonistas and book the pyfioretina. Everything online. In general I’ve seen many small things that made Europython very nice. At the moment I can’t remember all of them but I promise you that if something come up to my mind, I’ll update the blog post.

How to improve it the next year?
I didn’t express myself on Schedule and timing, Duration and contents because I’d like to do it here, all together. I think that the organisers can improve a lot the content to give a higher quality. This can affect scheduling, duration and timing. So far, speakers submitted talks and who bought an early bird ticket could vote them. I like this, very democratic but too much “anarchic”: not for the voting system but for the content proposed. Too many topics together with no room for further studies. So why not organizing the content in a different way, organizing the content in macro areas, in big topic. Just to give an example: web, enterprise, mobile, HPC, community, etc. Then every big topic should have a “path”, starting from the basics to reach an advanced level.
This way to see the content can change also the scheduling and the duration: why not having sprint all week from monday to saturday (in background) so we have a day more of talks and every day give to the attendees the progress of the daily sprint: “we’ve solved 3 bugs and implemented 2 new features”. The big picture of my idea is to organise better content, schedule, and timing.

I end my post to thank all the organiser (many of them are my friend) for the wonderful job and see you next year for a better Europython. Great job guys!

And you? How can the Europython be improved the next year? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Drop a comment and tell your opinion. :)

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