PYCON UK

From the conference chair

From Peter Inglesby, conference chair:


To me, PyCon UK 2017 was a success. We sold out of tickets, didn't go bankrupt, had a full and interesting programme, managed to feed everybody in a fairly timely fashion, and as far as I can tell, created a conference where most people enjoyed themselves.

Of the PyCon UKs that I've been significantly involved in running, it was certainly the one that I've enjoyed best. This is mostly because it's been the one that's provided least stress to me! And this is entirely due to the excellent committee and volunteers. (More on them below.)

But apart from being stress-free, there was a huge number of things to enjoy. I have many personal highlights, and these include, in no particular order:

  • The Pinner Award presentations. It was delightful to welcome Sheila Pinner back to the conference to present the awards. Reading all the nominations in the week before the conference was also lovely.
  • The badges. (Thanks Steve!)
  • The children's lightning talks. This is always fun, and gives us a chance to see the programming world through new eyes. (Choice quote: "We typed some things in. It didn't work. We typed some things out again.")
  • The conference dinner. Again, this is always a highlight, but I loved the atmosphere in the hall, as people dined with friends old and new. (And when I had to close the bar, people laughed at my joke about doubly-linked lists!)
  • Picademy. I was only able to stick my head around the door a couple of times, but I really enjoyed the energy coming from the teachers as they learnt about Python from the Raspberry Pi Foundation staff, and from developers who'd dropped in to give a couple of hours of their time.
  • The Slack community. It was wonderful to watch a community coalesce online on Slack before the conference began.
  • The board games night. This was something new for us. I'm not much of a board games player, but I loved the buzz in the room.
  • The Anvil team taking seven year-old Helena under their wing and teaching her to build web applications.
  • Arriving at the end of Meg Ray's rescheduled talk to find a small group of people engaged in respectful and eager discussion. I just sat in the back and watched.
  • Walking into Luke Spademan's talk as he was dealing with questions, and hearing the room laugh in response to something he'd said.
  • The career progression panel. There was so much wisdom on stage.
  • 6am on Thursday morning. Having been awake most of the previous night with pre-match nerves, it was great to arrive at City Hall to find a team of volunteers waiting in the dark to help with setup.

I could go on.


However, I know that not everyone will have got as much out of the conference as I did.

So if you didn't enjoy the conference, or didn't feel welcome, please send me an email to let me know: peter.inglesby@uk.python.org.

(We'll be asking for more general feedback soon.)


I have an awful lot of people to thank. If you think I've missed anybody out, please let me know!

Firstly, there's the staff at City Hall. Geoff, Lynne, Crystal, Gail, and David: nothing was ever too much trouble, and you made everything so straightforward for us. All the catering staff, porters, security guards, and everybody else were wonderful, and the cleaners did a magnificent job of transforming City Hall after an enormous wedding on the night before the conference.

Then there are the people from outside our community. Martin from Composed Images took some fantastic photos of the conference. Sheryll, Mirella, and Julia provided the speech to text services. Ben from Enthusiasm Events looked after the A/V system in the Assembly Hall and dealt with all of our dongle issues. The team from Brecon Mobile Crèche did a great job of keeping the little people happy so that their parents could make the most of the conference. The staff at the Clink put on a wonderful dinner for our contributors on Sunday evening. You were all great to work with.

Thank you to all our speakers, workshop leaders, and poster presenters. There's not enough space to list you all here, but there's a list on the conference website. I know that speaking in public doesn't come easily to some of you, and that a lot of you found the experience nervewracking! Without your contribution, and all the hard unseen preparation work behind it, there wouldn't have been a conference.

Thank you to everybody who gave a lightning talk. I hope that if that was your first experience of speaking at PyCon UK then you'll submit a proposal for next year's Call for Participation. Thanks to our lightning talk presenters: Cat Lamin, Harry Percival, Nikoleta Glynatsi, Owen Campbell, Vincent Knight, and Right Sock and Left Sock (who seem not to be on Twitter).

Our panelists deserve particular mention. Carrie Anne Philbin, Cat Lamin, Kushal Das, and Tom Crick shared their thoughts on education. Anwesha Das, Irina Bolychevsky, David Miller, and Daniele Procida all took part in a discussion on the ethics and politics of programming. Jessica Rose, Kristian Glass, Meri Williams, and Michelle Coventry were entertaining and insightful in a discussion about career progression for developers. The panels were ably chaired by Dan Pope, Carol Willing, and Samathy Barratt.

Tom Viner, Tim Golden, and Nicholas Tollervey put on the Dojo on the Thursday evening. Thanks to you all. If anybody's interested in attending another Dojo, there's more information about the London Dojo here.

I'd like to thank our American friends, Naomi Ceder, Van Lindberg, and Carol Willing, for advice before and during the conference, and to Van and Carol for helping with our AGMs on Saturday.

The conference couldn't happen without the generous support of our sponsors. There's a full list at the bottom of this page. I hope you all found sponsoring the conference to be useful. To the wider community: many of our sponsors are recruiting, so if you're looking for work, get in touch with them!

The Raspberry Pi Foundation have been supporting the education track at PyCon UK for a number of years. This year, they ran a Picademy for teachers on Thursday and Friday, and coordinated Saturday's young coders' day. The whole team worked incredibly hard! In particular, I'd like to thank Carrie Anne Philbin, James Robinson, and Ben Nuttall who were also involved before the conference.

The Micro:bit Foundation provided micro:bits for the young coders' day and ran their own programme of events on Sunday. Thanks Jonny Austin for setting that up!

We hosted a Django Girls workshop for the third time this year, and I'd like to thank Ann Barr, Nikoleta Glynatsi, and Owen Campbell, not only for all the organisational work they put in to make this happen, but for the wonderfully welcoming atmosphere they created for our new coders. We had lots of coaches too: thanks to you all.

As I said in my introduction on the first day, PyCon UK runs on the goodwill of volunteers, and we had no shortage of people willing to turn up at 6am to spend ten minutes moving boxes (your breakfast did turn up... eventually) or chair sessions or help out on the registration desk or help with videoing talks. I don't know who you all were, but I'd like to mention Luke Stanley, Mia Yu, Joe Metcalfe, and Glen Davies, who've been showing up at PyCon UKs for years and getting stuff done. I'd also like to mention Piers Storey, Anna Kapuścińska, and Dani Papamaximou who were all at their first PyCon UK, and who got stuck in as if they'd been coming for years.

Finally, there's the committee (again, all volunteers) who assisted me so ably before and during the conference. You all put in hours and hours and hours into making the conference a success. (And I think we had fun doing so!)

Alex Chan handled the website, proofread everything, organised printing the schedules, did a large number of small jobs before I'd noticed they needed doing, and was (and is!) a great sounding board.

Charlie Denton and Cory Benfield were involved early on in the planning but were unable to make the conference. You were missed! (And the staff at Pieminister want to know what to do with the pigs in blankets they'd set aside for you.)

Chloe Parkes responded to enquiry emails before the conference, and then was everywhere during the conference, picking up all the jobs that needed doing, as well as co-ordinating the reception desk. She also gave an inspiring lightning talk.

Daniele Procida oversaw programme selection, looked after bookings with all the external suppliers, handled the morning announcements, and lent us his printer.

George Hickman greased the wheels of the conference's technical infrastructure and set up the conference Slack.

Helen Sherwood Taylor collated all the ideas for badge designs, and generally made herself useful.

Kirk Northrop provided the radios the committee tried to use (and patient instructions for how to use them) and was usually the first committee member to respond to a question on Slack. He also ran the board games night.

Kristian Glass managed the financial affairs of the PyCon UK Society Limited, and kept the committee well-stocked with Welsh Cakes.

Neil Stoker made sure all our sponsors were happy!

Nicholas Tollervey (among other things...) organised the Pinner Award, made the panels happen, and made some frantic phone calls to book hostel beds once it became clear that PyCon UK wasn't the only show in Cardiff.

Owen Campbell was involved in everything. I'd particularly like to thank him for his work in setting up the UKPA, but he worked on the schedule, arranged session chairs, planned the lightning talks, and did lots of other things that I'm sure I've forgotten.

Steve Hawkes designed the website and the badges.

Tim Golden helped with the financial assistance administration, offered lots of wisdom, and wrote the wonderful Zen of PyCon UK.

Tim Vivian-Griffiths co-ordinated the PyData track at the conference.

Tim Williams has once again been brilliant at co-ordinating the filming of talks at the conference, and has been processing them and getting them onto YouTube in record time.

Vincent Knight was our Chief Mathematics Officer, and helped with scheduling.

So thanks to all the committee members. I've really enjoyed working with you.

Finally finally, I'd like to thank my family for being so understanding about my funny hobby for the last two years!

I'm handing over the chair of PyCon UK to Daniele for 2018, and I've no doubt he'll put on another excellent conference.

All the best,

~ Peter Inglesby


The conference wouldn't happen without the generous support of our sponsors: