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Here’s a quick note that I wanted to pass on about this big event that is happening in our neck of the woods (during the most beautiful time of year!!). We hope to see you here in Atlanta next year!

Call for proposals – PyCon 2011

Proposal Due date: November 1st, 2010

PyCon is back! With a rocking new website, a great location and more Python hackers and luminaries under one roof than you could possibly shake a stick at. We’ve also added an “Extreme” talk track this year – no introduction, no fluff – only the pure technical meat!

PyCon 2011 will be held March 9th through the 17th, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Home of some of the best southern food you can possibly find on Earth!) The PyCon conference days will be March 11-13, preceded by two tutorial days (March 9-10), and followed by four days of development sprints (March 14-17).

PyCon 2011 is looking for proposals for the formal presentation tracks (this includes “extreme talks”). A request for proposals for poster sessions and tutorials will come separately.

Want to showcase your skills as a Python Hacker? Want to have hundreds of people see your talk on the subject of your choice? Have some hot button issue you think the community needs to address, or have some package, code or project you simply love talking about? Want to launch your master plan to take over the world with Python?

PyCon is your platform for getting the word out and teaching something new to hundreds of people, face to face.

In the past, PyCon has had a broad range of presentations, from reports on academic and commercial projects, tutorials on a broad range of subjects, and case studies. All conference speakers are volunteers and come from a myriad of backgrounds: some are new speakers, some have been speaking for years. Everyone is welcome, so bring your passion and your
code! We’ve had some incredible past PyCons, and we’re looking to you to help us top them!

Online proposal submission is open now! Proposals  will be accepted through November 10th, with acceptance notifications coming out by January 20th. To get started, please see:

<http://us.pycon.org/2011/speaker/>

For videos of talks from previous years – check out:

<http://python.mirocommunity.org/category/conferences>

For more information on “Extreme Talks” see:

<http://us.pycon.org/2011/speaker/extreme/>

We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

Please also note – registration for PyCon 2011 will also be capped at a maximum of 1,500 delegates, including speakers. When registration opens (soon), you’re going to want to make sure you register early! Speakers with accepted talks will have a guaranteed slot.

Important Dates:

  • November 1st, 2010: Talk proposals due.
  • December 15th, 2010: Acceptance emails sent.
  • January 19th, 2010: Early bird registration closes.
  • March 9-10th, 2011: Tutorial days at PyCon.
  • March 11-13th, 2011: PyCon main conference.
  • March 14-17th, 2011: PyCon sprints days.

Contact Emails:
Van Lindberg (Conference Chair) – van@python.org
Jesse Noller (Co-Chair) – jnoller@python.org
PyCon Organizers list: pycon-organizers@python.org

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On September 1st, the latest version of Plone was released and a lot of innovation from this leading Content Management System is now available to new and existing Plone users! Plone 4 is more intuitive, more visually appealing, and faster. We’re so excited about this new version that we’ve been buried in working on it and launching new sites (check out the latest launch: SEEC) to get the news out for the last six week! Below are some of the key upgrades on Plone 4 that you may like:

ploneNew Look: Plone4 has a new template included when it is installed that is sleek, minimalist, and functional. After nine years of using a staple design, Plone 4 uses a modern table-less formatting and simplified CSS.

Performance Improvement: Plone 4 has a number of improvements that help it run fasterand more efficiently. It’s twice as fast as Plone 3 representing accelerating advances in performance for the platform (while many other systems are getting slower and more complex!). Plone 4’s capacity  to handle very large files has improved drastically since all file data is now stored on the file system rather than in the database. This enhances the ability of Plone to scale to handle huge content repositories out of the box!

Intuitive Visual Editing: The HTML editor in Plone 4 has been changed to a Tiny MCE which offers Plone users more ease and flexibility in design. It offers much stronger support of html tables and better support for embedded flash content. This visual editor is also widely used in other systems outside of Plone as well, meaning that it will have greater support and improvements over time. Overall Plone 4 provides better tools for creating the site you want with less of a headache.

Improved user management: Plone 4 has also streamlined the process of creating and managing users for your website. It is faster to create new users and place them in groups.

User Experience Improvements: You’ll notice several improvements in the way Plone leverages AJAX technologies in this version. The result is fewer page loads necessary to use and manage a website. Navigating to the back end administrative area of the website has been improved. Even small changes like allowing users to sign in with their email or username lend themselves to an improved user experience.

Other things we are excited about from this release:

  • Easy upgrading from Plone 3!
  • New version of the User’s Guide to Plone book!
  • The XDV templating tools that make it easy for designers to use html and css to create custom look and feel for Plone sites!

Plone 4 is a system that surpasses other CMS’s – open source and proprietary options – in terms of usability, security, community, and scalability. This latest release represents a lot of great work by the community and we congratulate and thank all those who have contributed to Plone 4!

If you’re interested to learn more about Plone, we invite you to:

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Here are a few highlights of the last PyATL meeting.  As usual, there was a lot of great pythonic information to share:

  • Comparing items of different types.  This is a little bit of interesting Python trivia that Brandon presented in the meeting.  Prior to Python 3.0, you could do a comparison between two objects of different types (e.g. 35.1 < (1, “Brandon”)) and get a Boolean value.  In Python 3, this expression now throws an error, as it should.
  • Grin.  Grin is a tool to replace grep.  It allows you to format regular expressions the python way.  And it has a nicer output.
  • Programming Puzzles.  One presentation focused on how to make learning python more fun.  You can learn python with programming puzzles.  Two places that came up in the presentation:  Project Euler and the Python Challenge.
  • Bottle – a python micro web framework.  It’s great if you have a web framework that is dead simple and needs to be really light weight.
  • Sass and Compass.  Yes, we talked about a Ruby project at our PyATL meeting.  The point is that Compass is a useful tool for web developers building sites with any programming language.  Compass smooths out the process of writing CSS and makes the process more intuitive.  Automatically have cross-browser compatibility built into your style sheets.  That’s the promise!

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February will heating up in Atlanta! Not only will it be lots warmer than the Northeast and Midwest…we’ve got PyCon 2010 (the annual Python programming language conference) converging here. We hope to have you here! Today is the last day for early bird registration, so get on with it here.

Ok, if you’re still reading you need some more convincing, so here’s why you should care:

PyCon is where the thought leaders, community organizers, product developers, and enterprises using Python come together for an intense period of learning, exchange, and collaboration. In particular, we have:

This is a great chance to learn from others, gain new skills, and find out the coolest topics in open source! Have a look at the extensive sessions list (I’ll be giving 2 Plone-related talks, one on ecommerce and one on salesforce integration), check out a tutorial and consider staying a few extra days to sprint!

Then go register! Remember, Jan 6 is the last day for early bird! Save some $$ and get on with it already!

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I occasionally trawl the free Plone themes (skins, templates, etc) to see what kind of options are available for Plone. Historically this has been a weakness of Plone relative to other open source Content Management Systems (CMS), like Joomla. To my surprise, the Plone community has come a long way! A big contribution to this was the OOTB (Out of the Box) Sprint; though I couldn’t find the results of that process very easily in their workspace, I recognized many of them as I looked through repositories.

I was able to grab a paster-based buildout and within about 15 minutes (not counting operator error time!) have a site running on my computer with 8 free skins working, thanks to the distribution convention of “eggs” (and PyPi). I then decided to press my luck and add themes that only had downloadable “tarballs” (zipped files). That didn’t go so well…so I went back to looking for eggs, this time at the source: the Python Package Index (PyPi). I found a few more options there, but the description info is lousy, for what I hope to find anyway, and no screenshots.

The slowest part of the process has been finding information.When I started this, I went to plone.org first, which was in the process of being upgraded and the product filter/search was broken, meaning I couldn’t even filter the categories to get Themes. That got better, and then fixed, but that didn’t make it tremendously easy to find the info. I realized part way through searching that another option was contentmanagementsoftware.info , which I soon turned to as an initial reference for themes as it occassionally pulled in screenshots (whereas Plone.org was more clicks and less often actually had a screenshot). About 1/4 of the products I looked at on Plone.org had bad links (some even with broken link to the download). Webcoutureir and Uberon.no now no longer exist, the later seems to have lost the hosted files for good.

Suggestions to theme product authors:

  1. Add a screenshot to your product pages (note that this is different than the release page).
  2. Include info about your egg on your product page (otherwise someone looking at plone.org thinks you just have a tarball).
  3. Make an uninstall profile for your theme, so when someone wants to take it out of the site, it happens nicely. See here. Also nice if the default theme is set back after the uninstall happens (RobZoneNet says he will be writing on some more best practices of theming shortly, including this).

Some highlights of the themes:

As I mentioned, there a fair bit of broken links out there, so here’s a summary of what I got working easily from eggs (with links to screenshots, if available):

Several were encountered with a simple search for “themes” on PyPi.

I was able to only get a few working via tarballs (mostly due to broken links or non-working products). Those included:

Other suggestions:

  • Plone.org/products needs a way to either “flag” a product (report a problem, broken, etc) or comment on it so we can keep bad info out of the public’s way.
  • Encourage all developers of products to add their code into a public repository, so even if their company changes in some way, the code remains available. This also means less systems maintenance burden for the company/developer.
  • Make PloneSoftwareCenter less of a pain to use. Harito commented in her product that she wasn’t actually releasing it there because it was too cumbersome. Many developers seem to have not been clear on how to get a screenshot onto the product page (vs the release page), which makes it less obvious/findable (though it also appears that the recent upgrade of plone.org may have broken screenshots). Due to this, and perhaps general lack of perceived value from using the Plone.org for product releasing, PyPi seems to have become a more complete repository of products than plone.org/products. This detracts from the overall value of Plone.org’s product collections since it now means users have to do more laborious searching to find products.

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I attended my first Atlanta Python user group’s meeting (PyAtl) this month (see the meeting announcement). I have a regular conflict on Thursday evenings (soccer:), but made this one to give a talk on Plone. Our local Atlanta Plone users group has merged with PyAtl and serves as a Special Interest Group now.

Brandon Rhodes opened the session with a discussion of search trends, using Google Trends, and left us with a question: why isn’t Python and Plone going up in the trend lines? That framed my talk nicely, as I got to share my enthusiasm for Plone, which I believe if more people knew about certainly would be trending up! I gave a talk to help those there learn more about Plone, an intro and answering some questions about why people choose Plone. To my surprise, several people there had prior Plone experience, but not recent work. So it was like re-chosing Plone…they recalled things like dtml and lots of through-the-web editing and other pain, so I think I played the role of dusting off the memories and filling in some details about where Plone has gotten to now. In particular, the fact that it is easy to install, uses extensive Zope 3 and the community has adopted best practices in development widely, that there is lots of documentation (and books), and that the community rocks!

I didn’t do any demos or code stuff, just introducing why we should care about Plone…hopefully that will be the subject of our future contributions at PyAtl meetings!

The presentation videos are now up on the PyAtl site, though the sound is quite low. I will be posting my slides as soon as I get a chance to clean them up a bit…but they were based heavily on Jon Stahl’s slides, the World Plone Day slides, and bits and pieces from Roberto Allende and Nate Aune’s presentations too :). See Plone Evangelist hq for more of those.

Also, as part of our merger to into PyAtl, note that we now have domains atlantaplone.com and atlantaplone.net working! (please note that the .org address has been lost to domain hell).

My first meeting certainly was fun (and I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Holden’s talk on Python community…more on that in a later post), so I hope to be back soon!

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