April 21, 2014

Neat Notebook Trick

I'm still trying to digest the little I saw of PyCon. Sadly I was pretty wiped out by the three-day recording session for Intermediate Python in California and then the intensive editing work that followed to help the amazing O'Reilly team get the whole thing ready a day before PyCon officially opened.

I also made the tactical (and, as it turned out, strategic) mistake of choosing to stay at the Hyatt in Montreal. This meant a considerable walk (for a gimpy old geezer such as myself) to the conference site, when the Palais des Congres is already intimidatingly large.

So the combination of exhaustion and knee pain meant I hardly got to see any talks (not totally unheard of) but that I also got very little time in the hallway track either. Probably the most upsetting absence was missing the presentation of Raymond Hettinger's Lifetime Achievement Award. As a PSF director I instituted the Community Service Awards, but these have never really been entirely appropriate for developers. This award makes it much clearer just how significant Raymond's contributions have been.

Because of the video releases I did spend some time of the O'Reilly stand, and signed away 25 free copies of the videos. I was also collecting names and addresses to distribute free copied of the Python Pocket Reference. If you filled out a form, you should receive your book within the next three weeks. We'll mail you with a more exact delivery date shortly.

But the real reason for this post is that I had the pleasure of meeting Fernando Perez, one of the leaders of the IPython project. He was excited to hear that the Intermediate Python notebooks are already available on Github, and when he realized the notebooks were all held in the same directory he showed me that if I dropped that URL into the Notebook Viewer site I would get a web page with links to viewable versions of the notebook. [Please note: they aren't currently optimally configured for reading, so it's still best to run the notebooks interactively, but in the absence of a local notebook server this will be a lot better than nothing. It will get better over time].

He also mentioned a couple of other wrinkles I hadn't picked up on, and we briefly discussed some of the interesting aspects of Notebooks being data structures.

The conversation was interesting enough that I plan to visit Berkeley soon to try and infiltrate my way into the documentation team and see if we can't make the whole system even easier to use and understand. One way or another, open source seems to be in my bloodstream.

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