PyRVA meet up and type hinting

Python’s community has long been considered as valuable as the
software, and that extends to Python local meetups. They’re fun to
attend, but what’s even more fun is watching one during its formation.

Last week I attended the second PyRVA meet up in Richmond, VA and talked about Python 3.5 type hinting in PyCharm. The user group is founded by Andrew Elbert. The location was part of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), a large public university in the heart of Richmond. Really nice meet up space: table seating for everyone and humongous display for presentation.

I’ve been to a lot of these, over the decades and across continents. I seem to enjoy the people in this business more than the software, so I have a fascination for how people group-up and do new things. This meetup was interesting in several ways:

  • Diverse in ethnicity, gender, age and skill level
  • First half was bootcamp-style, with experienced people working with
    beginners
  • Part “CS student learning another language” and part “I have a job but want to advance my career by learning programming skills”
  • It’s a testament to the founders that they have injected this vibe in from the beginning.

The evening started with sandwiches, yummy. The room filled up, with people sitting around the sides, so almost 40 people, and this was the only the second session. Clearly they have tapped into something. The bootcamp part ran for about an hour. Then a talk on devops with Jenkins, followed by a fun talk on using Python to analyze the historical reading-level of Jeopardy questions.

I talked about type hinting in Python 3.5, as covered in an article I am finishing up this week. I also covered general questions about PyCharm. I’m learning more about the target audience, for IDEs in general and PyCharm specifically, and this was a good chance to again talk to such-minded people. One thing I’m learning: some beginners are more comfortable seeing “Python” on the screen. Not a terminal, with an editor they need to run and a shell to run a command, etc. They want something that frames their new world and gives them targets to interact with.

And of course, like all my talks, it was just a thin excuse to give two decades of Python-related funny stories.

PyRVA is one I will keep an eye on. I hope they grow, keep the enthusiasm up, and preserve the unique qualities they have started with.

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