Andy McKay

Jun 19, 2011

Djangocon Europe

Two weeks ago I went to in Amsterdam and had a chance to talk about the great stuff that Mozilla has been doing with Django. It's taken me a while to get around to blogging about it, my apologies. At the other end of the spectrum, Reinout van Rees did an awesome job of live blogging throughout the conference. He was finishing blog posts as speakers were finishing.

Every time I arrive in Amsterdam, it feels like I'm stepping into the future. The one where there's no flying cars, but bikes and public transit because there's no oil left. And socially, things are more liberal.

The hotel was the exact opposite. The hotel was rather cheap with no free wifi and they gave me the TV remote on checkin - with a warning about the costs if I lose the TV remote.

The conference was in an awesome venue, a great renovated building in Amsterdam docks. Next door was an island. Java-eiland. My first impression was the great job that the organisers had done with the AV, a very nice setup.

Fortunately my talk was up quickly, so I didn't have much chance to fret. I just got caught out by the talk time moving up 15 mins, I didn't know, so everyone was waiting. The talk went well I think, I ended talking about how awesome cache machine is and calling it all object caching throughout. I meant model caching, but everyone got that.

In the future if I'm doing a talk at the beginning, I feel I could run through my talk and say: "we use X, here's briefly how and why and see talk X later in the conference for more detail". There were plenty of talks later on the Mozilla Django tool chain.

At the beginning I mentioned that Canada keeps beating the US at hockey and that night would be game 3 of the Stanley Cup and inviting people to meet my friends to watch the game at 2am. We did meet up, a bunch of random Canadians sat in a bar in Amsterdam, sang the national anthem and then watched our team get completely hammered. So let's just pretend that bit didn't happen.

Over the three days, there was only one track for the conference, which meant that the group stayed together. I would have liked a couple of tracks, but overall the talks were of good quality. Having a couple of tracks might have diluted that.

Of the notable talks I enjoyed:

  • Idan talking about responsive design. Idan's a great talker with great tips for anyone building mobile sites.
  • Jesper had a great talk about his work on Bitbucket. I only caught the last half or so unfortunately. But, it's always good to hear about big successful Django sites, it's exactly the sort of thing that the project needs.
  • Andrew did a great talk about how works. It's not simple and he's clearly gained some scars from building out that site.

The hallway and break chats were good. I had some great conversations and met some awesome people in the community. One other advantage of having a talk to everyone at the beginning was that, lots of people wanted to talk about how Mozilla uses Django. I even met a couple of people who thanked me for my Plone book (there's a few Plone refugees in Django land).

At the end of the conference I was on a scalability panel. I've never been a big fan of panels so was a little sceptical, but this went better than most. Hopefully it was useful.

In only three days the whole thing was over and it was off to the UK to spend a brief amount of time with my family.

It was great to go, thank you Mozilla for letting that happen. I think its good for Django and Python to repeatedly show how successful this toolset can be. Having large deployments coming out and saying so, really helps open source projects.

There was one thing I'd like to reiterate to conference organisers: please print peoples names in a large font on both sides of the badge. (example)

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