Friday, May 11, 2018

To the Egoless Pythonistas That Makes Space at the Table: A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, Community Service Award Q4 2017 Recipient

When we think of Pythonistas that have made a significant mark in the Python community there are many to consider - Python open source project maintainers, the Python core developers, or the countless Python organizers who bring Python events to new corners of the world. All these Pythonistas demonstrate the dedication and commitment it requires to make Python and the Python community work. Yet there are many whose contributions are at times less apparent, less visible. These Pythonistas are not so much hidden as intentionally working behind the scenes, offering assistance to others, so that they can take the mantle of leadership and make their own mark in the community. In more ways than one, A. Jesse Jiryu Davis has been a mentor and advocate for the community, inspiring many to take that next step in their own Python pursuits. It is for this reason that the Python Software Foundation recognizes A. Jesse Jiryu Davis with a Q4 2017 Community Service Award:
RESOLVED, that the Python Software Foundation award the Q4 2017 Community Service Award to A. Jesse Jiryu Davis for the work he does on the PSF blog, his outreach & education efforts, and for organizing PyGotham 2017.

Coders aren’t good communicators … right?

Our paths into Python are varied, yet there are common themes that bring us to Python. Perhaps your workplace uses Python or perhaps Python was the obvious language to use to solve the problem you were confronted with. For others, though, we arrive at Python because of the rich documentation and friendly community. In his day to day Jesse is a staff engineer at MongoDB. As such, Jesse has written tools for MongoDB like Motor, the async MongoDB Python driver.  In his role Jesse explains, “I’m really lucky, I was hired by an open source software company who encouraged me to become a well known member of Python community by writing and speaking”. Contributing to and maintaining open source also means contributing to the documentation surrounding open source tools. While writing on the tools that Jesse helped create was an entry point into writing, Jesse recognized the unique position he had within his role, “I want[ed] to use this advantage to open up these opportunities to other folks”.
Photo by Barbara Joshin O'Hara.
Jesse actively writes on his personal blog on such topics as Python (and more broadly programming), photography, and zen as well as on several other platforms. In his Python content Jesse has written on advanced concepts like Python’s Global Interpreter Lock to content accessible to programmers of any level like how to begin one’s public speaking career. Crafting accessible and open content has been a way that Jesse has be able to channel his position into learning opportunities for others (for example, see Jesse’s PyCon 2016 talk “Write an Excellent Programming Blog”).
Another location Jesse actively writes in on the Python Software Foundation blog. Part of formerly a team of three bloggers, Jesse has been a blogger for the PSF since early 2016. Often the work on the PSF blog requires individuals to do extensive research and interviews on Pythonistas and communicate critical Python news. On-boarding individuals requires a careful attention to detail and countless hours of review and back and forth as all the work happens remotely in a decentralized fashion. PSF blogger Christy Heaton joined the Python Software Foundation blogging team in late 2016, “I have considered Jesse a mentor since I began blogging for the PSF. When I got my first assignment, and wasn't sure where to start,” she recalls. “Jesse took the time to thoughtfully detail his process for me, in an ego-less and judgement-free way. Now the process is so natural, and I have Jesse to thank for that!”

Sharing the Wealth: Empowering Others to Speak and Share in the Python Community

Jesse’s writing isn’t the only mechanism he’s used to empower others.  One of the open questions Jesse was interested in exploring as a PyGotham 2017 organizer included the question of how to reach more underrepresented folks to submit and speak at PyGotham. Part of this exploration included participating in a PyLadies NYC panel to discuss the CFP process, discuss example submissions, and learn more about what challenges confronting individuals when submitting talks.
The event inspired Jesse to spearhead a unique opportunity for PyGotham -- discover a way for new speakers to have access to professional speaker coaching. “Speaking and writing are side gigs for programmers. We are expected to be good at them, if we are then that’s beneficial for our careers. Often, though, we don’t know what we are doing. There are many writers and speakers outside tech that are highly skilled and underpaid, and we are often overpaid so there is an opportunity to share this wealth,” Jesse explains. Jesse’s own speaking coach, Melissa Collom, is a professional opera singer and Jesse attributes much of his own success in becoming a storyteller, as she has helped him learn how to use his voice and body effectively to make him a compelling speaker. Melissa comments that the “same things that make me an effective performer are the same things that make someone an effective communicator". Therefore when it comes to public speaking Melissa believes that there is a “plurality of excellences, finding the most authentic expression of you means finding what works best for you".
Based upon this belief that there are complementary skill sets in the world and that it’s often by working together that we as individuals can find our “plurality of excellence”, Jesse set about fundraising to ensure that there would be an ability for 11 new PyGotham speakers to have access to a speaking coach. “The thing that stands out to me [about Jesse is he] believes in mentorship and he is a feminist. Jesse believes that women and non-binary people [should] have a place at the table. He is willing to leverage his privilege to help pull some extra chairs up to the table,” Melissa says when describing Jesse.
Additionally Jesse has worked outside of the conference space to help others in developing their pubic speaking careers. “I appreciate Jesse as an educator and mentor in the Python world. His conference talks are educational, engaging, and thought-provoking. Jesse enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and paying it forward. He is a true ally,” former Python Software Foundation Director and PyLadies Remote Organizer Anna Ossowski shares. In February 2018 as a part of the Global Diversity CFP Day PyLadies Remote invited Jesse to share his expertise in and personal journey into public speaking and writing.  “I am thankful for Jesse taking the time to teach PyLadies Remote classes for us, as well as for his help with my talk proposals,” Anna concludes.
We All Have Something to Contribute: What will you contribute?
The theme that emerges time after time when speaking with those that have worked with Jesse is his selflessness and desire to leave more behind than he may take. Director of Python Software Foundation Operations Ewa Jodlowska shares, “I’ve known of Jesse for many years due to his contributions to the Python community. What stands out the most is the willingness to help others.” From his writing, to his speaking, to his mentoring, to his open source projects (that begs us to question our privilege and social location), to his relentless advocacy Jesse demonstrates the richness of the Python community in our shared values of contributing often and freely sharing. That said, we all have something to contribute to the Python community, what will your contribution be?

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Updates from Microsoft, PyCon 2018 Keystone Sponsor

Microsoft has been a big supporter of the Python language through sponsored development of Python Tools for Visual Studio, Jupyter, CPython, Azure Machine Learning and organizations such as the PSF and NumFocus. This year the PSF is proud to have Microsoft as our Keystone Sponsor for PyCon 2018 in Cleveland. We also spoke with them to find out more about their recent efforts in the Python community, and here’s what they had to share:

Q: The Microsoft Python extension for Visual Studio code is now available. We’d be interested in hearing about some of the linting improvements that were made in this release.

Microsoft: That's right, we are excited about the Microsoft Python extension! The extension was originally developed by Don Jayamanne who has now joined Microsoft, and we started publishing the extension as Microsoft in November of 2017. We release a new version every month, and it is currently the most popular extension for VS Code. We have been focused on improving the core Python development experience: linting, IntelliSense, debugging, and support for various environments (virtualenv, pipenv, pyenv, conda). Linting specifically is important to Python developers, with Python being a dynamic language we often depend on linters to give feedback to catch coding errors without having to hit them later at runtime. PyLint is enabled by default in the extension because it has a comprehensive set of rules, and we also support many linters used by Python developers: flake8, mypy, pydocstyle, pep8, prospector and pylama.

One of the improvements we made early was to define a default set of linting rules that help developers catch errors, without the distraction of too many optional warnings about coding convention. Developers can enable the coding convention rules or otherwise customize rulesets to match their development style by adding a .pylintrc file to their workplace. We are continuing to make linting improvements in the coming months.

Q: Microsoft is known for being highly invested in security. What can you tell us about adding security enhancements to Python, similar to those already in PowerShell?

Microsoft: We have an incredibly strong security culture at Microsoft with experts on everything from cloud and operating systems to CPU vulnerabilities. As we saw Python usage increasing, we had some of our scripting language specialists investigate how system administrators could integrate Python into their existing security auditing and management systems, much like we enabled for PowerShell in recent releases. One result of this is PEP 551, and while that proposal is yet to be accepted, we are maintaining source implementations against the latest Python 3.6 and 3.7 releases. For a good overview of why we believe these security transparency features are valuable for Python, see this presentation by Steve Dower, one of our engineers and CPython contributors.

Q: How does the Microsoft Software Donation Program at TechSoup work?

Microsoft: TechSoup and its international network of 65 other partner organizations help Microsoft in facilitating software donations for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs in 236 countries and territories. This includes quickly and reliably verifying an organization's nonprofit status. Serving as a dynamic bridge between civil society and corporate donor partners like Microsoft, TechSoup provides transformative technology products, knowledge, and services that enable people to work together toward a more equitable world. To find out more, please visit their site here.

Q: What does the future of Python look like from Microsoft’s vantage point? What sorts of things do you see for the community as a whole as well as Python within Microsoft itself?

Microsoft: The future is bright for Python with its broad applicability and low bar to entry. Microsoft will continue to invest in Python tooling (through Visual Studio and our free, open source and cross-platform Visual Studio Code), in better support for Python running on the Microsoft platforms, e.g. on Windows and on Azure (whether on Linux or Windows VMs), and of course Microsoft will continue to contribute to the Python community. Whether someone is using Python for scripting scenarios and automating tasks, or for web and backend development, or for Data Science and machine learning, Microsoft’s goal is to help them be successful. The real question isn’t what Microsoft thinks of the future of Python, but what the Python community sees as the future and how can Microsoft help towards that future.

Q: We’re thrilled that Microsoft has stepped forward to make such a big investment in PyCon and its community. What would you like attendees to take away from your presence at PyCon?

Microsoft: Microsoft loves Python and we are committed to be a supportive and productive member of the community. We employ more active Python Core developers than any other company, and they contribute to both Python itself as well as Microsoft's products for our Python customers. Plus, we are hiring more! If you are interested in working on our hosted Jupyter notebooks service, check out the job description and send your resume to There has been support for Python in the flagship Visual Studio product for some time now, and recently we added Python support in Visual Studio Code, our free, open source, and lightweight editor for macOS, Linux and Windows. We continue to improve and deepen support for Python in our Azure cloud and we are proud to say that you can already use our cloud infrastructure and services to build great apps in any language for any platform. Most of all, we would love to hear your feedback – what else can we do for the Python community? We are listening!

Again, a big thanks to Microsoft for their continued support in the Python community and Pycons specifically. Be sure to look for their booths and workshops if you are at PyCon this year.

Additionally, if you are interested in being a sponsor for PyCon in the future, please contact for more information. Depending on your level of sponsorship, packages include complimentary conference passes, booth space, lead retrieval scanners, speaking opportunities, and a table in the Job Fair.