EuroPython is the biggest conference dedicated to Python in Europe, with around 1200+ participants every year, run entirely by volunteers. It is also sister event to many national events around the continent, such as PyCon UK. This year, EuroPython was hosted in Edinburgh and, like in previous years, some of the talks were related with research software written in Python. We attended to learn how people are carrying out better research with Python.
Like in previous years, EuroPython hosted a Beginners' Day that was run by Vincent D. Warmerdam and Christian Barra with the help of other volunteers, including the author of this post. In the morning, Vincent D. Warmerdam taught a three-hours long introduction session to Python for novices. In the afternoon, volunteers and learners were matched to work together in small projects, such as building a website with Django or an API with Flask. At the end of the day, attendees had the feeling they’d accomplished something.
Attendees of EuroPython watched a fantastic set of keynotes who showed that we need better software for better research. Ian Ozsvald, one of the co-organisers of PyDataLondon, talked about Citizen Science with Python and the cases of Macedonian air quality, his wife’s sneezing, outdated medical results and tracking orangutans population. From the cases selected by Ian, we could see that Python is a programme language used for different tasks, devices and environments. Marco Buttu shared, in the other keynote, what it’s liketo be a research astronaut at White Mars, Concordia Station, a French/Italian facility located inside Antarctica. Marco presented remotely from Concordia Station and talked about some of the experiments the crew run using Python.
EuroPython had six rooms for talks that were used in parallel to accommodate more than 150 presentations covering topics from new features in some Python libraries to community engagement. Five talks that we attended need to be highlighted.
Michele Simionato talked about what works and what doesn't when you use Python in scientific computing. The talk covered a lot of libraries and included Michele's years of first-hand experience using them and watching them evolve. Michele's slides are online and worth a visit. Thomas Aglassinger presented SpaCy, "a free open-source library for Natural Language Processing in Python", and some tips to use it when doing sentiment analysis of some text, something useful when trying to estimate how enjoyable an event was based on tweets. Another talk related with research, this time in biomolecular science, was presented by Antonia Mey and covered BioSimSpace an interoperable framework for biomolecular simulation.
The two other talks aren't related to research software. Stefan Baerisch showed some ways that Python can be used to automate the boring office tasks involving Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Microsoft Office Excel and PDF. Stefan's slides are worth a look since they’re full of examples. Keith Harrison talked about the culture of software craftsmanship and how to learn from our mistakes. Keith mentioned CodeCraftConf, an unconference with "guided conversations and workshops on the hottest topics in software development amongst your peers", that will happen on Friday 14th September 2018, at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow. CodeCraftConf looks like a great event to attend, especially if you are fan of our Collaborations Workshop, which, by the way, will take place from Monday 1st to Wednesday 3rd April 2019 at Loughborough University in the West Park Teaching Hub.
EuroPython was a very productive event to attend—attendees learnt something, met old friends, expanded their network and had some fun. For a taster of EuroPython, we recommend attending PyCon UK 2018 in Cardiff from 15th to 19th September 2018.
We’d like to register our HUGE THANKS to the organising committee and all volunteers that made EuroPython such an amazing event. We are looking forward to seeing you all again in 2019!
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