There are many technical and programming conferences in Europe but there is no conference where the community makes such a difference. We talk about the EuroPython 2014 which ended last Friday, July 2014, after an outstanding week full of sessions, networking and socialising in Berlin. With more than 1200 visitors, the conference was the biggest EuroPython ever. It covered a large number of domains like system administration, web programming, science and business applications, big data and programming methodologies. All talks, keynotes and lightning talks were streamed to a world wide audience and uploaded to Youtube.
Python is well known for its elegant syntax and its unsurpassed flexibility, but in fact, the community makes the difference. The Python community not only cares about technical issues, but also about education and spreading programming skills to new generations of programmers. For example, the German Python Software Verband (PySV), started a programming contest, called PyMove3D using the popular 3D rendering software Blender as a platform for teaching programming. On Monday, the EuroPython conference started with the prize ceremony of the this years contest. The winner of PyMove3D 2014 was Mika Greif, a thirteen years old boy, who modelled an icicle cave where water drops from icicles forming stalagmites on the ground. To foster the contest, PySV has produced specialised teaching material, which was used in student workshops. Next year, PyMove3D is going to be a real European event. To this purpose the teaching material is currently translated into an number of European languages.
The EuroPython is a developers conference, where women used to be are marginalized for years. Not at EuroPython, the conference attracted roundabout 10 percent of female visitors. The number of female speakers tripled. The PyLadies Berlin were co-organizers of the conference and the DjangoGirls organized a workshop day for non programming women. There were 300 applications for the cost free workshop, unfortunatley only 42 women had the opportunity to attend due to limited ressources. This tremendous response proves that there is a huge potential and a lot more to do.
Big Data is a trending topic in the digital world, and so is Python, because Python is a major tool to handle and analyse huge amounts of data. A major part of the talks covered data mining and data handling in one way or the other. At the CERN in Geneva eg. millions of peta bytes of data produced by the Large Hadron Collider are stored in a decentralized grid of data centres all around the world. Python plays a major role in managing this grid and in querying and providing the data. This was only the most striking example. There were many more. With the PyData there even was a satellite conference dedicated entirely to Big Data and Python, happening on the weekend right after the EuroPython.
Big Data has many political implications. Open Data and transparency on the one side and mass surveillance on the other. Accordingly, the first keynote of the conference was held by Constanze Kurz, anti surveillence activist and member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). It was titled «One year of Snowden, what’s next?» and summarized the revelations of the whistle blower Edward Snowden about mass surveillance by NSA and GCHQ. But engineers are not only criticising and complaining, they actively work on new decentralized P2P-solutions for the web which offer more privacy than the current client-server-technology.
The attendees’ feedback to the conference, its satellite and evening events and its marvellous partner programme was overwhelming. Twitter buzzed with enthusiastic reactions, praising the high quality of the sessions and the professionalism of the organization. Another point in favour of the Python Community, when we keep in mind that the EuroPython is a community conference, organized exclusively by volunteers. The EuroPython in Berlin raised the bar for every following conference. 1226 attendees, 5 keynotes, 16 training sessions, more than 100 talks and more than 40 lightning talks, 5000 GB of videos were produced, 5800 lunches were served, and 10000 bottles of Mate and Fritz Cola were emptied.
Currently, the EuroPython Society is preparing a Call for Conference to find the next years location. We are eagerly looking forward to announce the location of the EuroPython 2015.