Monday, November 13, 2006

Get Involved in Python Advocacy

I'd like to extend an invitation to those who would like to get involved in advocating the use of Python. In August, the PSF hired me, for a 6-mo contract, to coordinate the Python advocacy effort. Since then I've been working to make the next PyCon one of the best conferences yet, and putting in place the infrastructure of a newcomer portal focused on drawing in those people who don't know much about Python but have developed an interest for various reasons. The portal also has an entry point to organize the materials and activies of those already in the Python community who want to get involved. I've also established a new mailing list on which to discuss advocacy, replacing the list, and a blog for keeping the Python community up-to-date about advocacy goings on. The blog is aggregated into the official Planet Python but I've been unable to reach the organizer for the unofficial Planet Python.
A bit about the newcomer portal to place it in context; the portal is designed to help someone who has just become aware of Python decide if the language is right for them. It seeks to quickly direct visitors to the information they want, and bring to their attention how diverse and vibrant the support for Python is. The audience is not only programmers but also journalists, project managers, scientists/engineers, recruiters and educators. Different audiences come at Python with different needs and often need different explanations. And some are indeed programmers, but using other languages, who wonder how Python compares to what they are using now.

For the portal we have a need for content writers to focus on specific problem domains, for the various subcommunities to provide technology roadmaps and representative samples of source code that would entice someone to check them out. As one example, the SciPy/NumPy group could write about what makes their software attractive to the scientific community and provide one-page sources that illustrates certain common operations, to show off the clarify and expressiveness of Python. I've found plenty of material on the SciPy website that I'm weaving into the newcomer portal.

The portal is not designed to replace what we have at but to complement it, and to serve as an organizing point for the extensive content already on and elsewhere. The portal also specifically supports dynamic content, relational database storage of information and easy plug-in of new components to add new features. Such features will eventually include, among other things, a searchable roster of user groups, a registry of speakers and trainers and a catalog of books about Python, each with RSS feeds where appropriate.

And for the curious, the portal is written using the Zope 3 component system, building on the underlying Twisted subsystem for internal background scheduling and hooked to a PostgreSQL database. The site makes use of Zope 3 viewlets to provide pluggable display elements, reStructured text documents for a clean separation between content and infrastructure, and Nabu for synchronization of document collections into the indexing engine and persisting of the reST DOMs to enable content manipulation at presentation
time according to what is to be viewed (biblio data, abstracts, content). The portal is located on the servers and all software and content are checked into

In closing, I am greatly honored by the trust of the foundation in me and hope to serve the community well. As coordinator, I invite others to get involved and will strive to provide an assistive environment within which everyone can be productive. The primary discussion area is the new mailing list which can be joined at:

and a list of what is needed is at:

I am also maintaining a list of accomplishments and near-term To-Do's for myself at:

Jeff Rush
Python Advocacy Coordinator

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