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PyCon Day 2

Today was presentation day, which understandably occupied most of my thinking. So I’ll address that first. My desktop applications talk went well, and I had good questions. I think I’ll be doing some fine tuning for PyUK in April, but overall I think I hit the points that I wanted to. My RDF was less successful, in my mind. I never quite got into the rhythm of the talk, and as a result I don’t think I was very successful in connecting with my audience. Hopefully they’ll check out the wiki page and be inspired by some of the details there.

I had dinner with my former boss, Latin teacher and mentor, Vern, and he had some suggestions. His feedback was that I seemed to “come alive” when answering audience questions, and that if I could inject that energy into the primary portion of the talks, I’d be much further ahead. He suggested figuring out what “story” I was trying to tell with each slide before hand, so they could serve as backup instead of main exhibit. Vern was also encouraging about the RDF talk. While he agreed that I didn’t seem to get into the rhythm of speaking, he didn’t think it was a bomb, and thought there was some good information in it.

This morning before I spoke I had the opportunity to see Ted Leung and Katie Capps Parlante from OSAF present on building Chandler parcels. I’m sort of interested in that. I’m currently really unhappy with my email clients (Thunderbird and Evolution), not because they’re not doing their jobs, but because I’m having trouble keeping track of everything. vFolders help some in Evolution, but I like some of the Chandler features they demoed today. Hopefully it’ll be minimally functinal “real soon now”.

After lunch I attended the block of “database” talks and saw two database projects which approach the domain very differently. Patrick O’Brien presented on Schevo , a framework for creating object database applications. Schevo allows you to create an object schema, and provides a built in data “navigator” which essentially generates the basic selection/deletion/query user interface for you. A key feature that wasn’t demonstrated but alluded to is the ability to version your schema and “evolve” your database as needs change (or are corrected, depending on the client, I suppose).

Ed Leafe’s presentation on Dabo was from the polar opposite position. Ed is a former (current?) Visual FoxPro developer, and Dabo is a framework for developing 3 teir database applications in Python. The major difference of opinion between the two presenters is the role of SQL and RDBMS. O’Brien was really frank in his distaste for SQL (really, does anyone like it?) and the constraints relational databases place on development, while Leafe clearly longed for the days when Fox was king and Access was a toy.

Overall, though, it was good to see two different, well thought out view points and projects in a domain I don’t work with much lately. The one area of overlap between those projects, though, is automatic UI generation. It must be in the water this year, as David Morrill demonstrated a similar feature in his talk on Traits yesterday.

Following the afternoon break I attended what I suppose you could call the “rules and triples” block of talks, of which mine was last. Yarden Katz’s talk on PyChinko was interesting, although I found myself longing for a demo. Katz and his colleagues have obviously thought quite a bit more about RDF than I want to, and I’d be curious to have seen their inference engine in action. Between the two RDF talks was Phillip Eby’s talk on writing rule-driven software using PEAK’s Dispatch . I think he had an important message, but the talk seemed designed for a larger time slot, and I found it difficult to follow the reasoning. Again, I think a working example, followed by discussion of the details would probably have kicked ass.