Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I am going to talk at Pycon ...

I started to develop SPE when I was still using Windows back in 2002. By using Python and wxPython, I hoped SPE would run smoothly on all platforms. That was wishful thinking. Luckily the community stepped in: Linux users started sending me patches and Mac users collected money to buy me a Mac Mini. Many years ago I go I switched to Ubuntu and at that moment I've felt the joy not having chosen a technology which locks you up in one platform.

Later I started developing Phatch (Photo Batch Processor) and used my experience of SPE to polish if for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. I took care of distributing it well on Linux by getting it in the major repositories (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, Suse, ...). Unfortunately I lacked the time for proper distribution on Mac OS X and Windows. I am happy to announce that is going to change.

Together with Nadia Alramli (other Phatch developer) we've dived deeper in the subject of developing and distributing cross-platform applications. Our conclusion is that is it takes more time to research than to implement the code. Therefore we are eager to share our knowledge during our talk at Pycon to save you from hair-pulling behaviour. We have learnt that Python solves 90% of the cross-platform problems for you, but that the remaining 10% could be tricky. In our talk we will point the finger on several painful issues and offer solutions, hoping that they will save you time and frustration.

We prepared the talk by writing a paper (outline here), which is far more extensive than the 30 min of talk will allow us. We designed the talk to give you a good overview and to get you started. I have send the paper for review to some people I highly respect. These were some reactions:

  • "Great document, I learned new things from it!" Piotr Ożarowski (Debian Python Application Package Team)

  • "It's a pity I can not attend PyCon. Anyway, the subjects you are describing in the paper are seldom analyzed in such depth, and I believe the whole community will benefit from your presentation. Most interesting of all, correctly packaging and distributing an app on multiple platforms can be a deep nightmare and what you have on your paper is a beautiful example of how to avoid the most hair-pulling mistakes in doing it." Andrea Gavana (wxPython)

We will use wxPython as an example GUI toolkit, but the principles are valid for other toolkits as well. Our target audience are programmers who have already some experience on one platform but are wondering how things could be implemented on other platforms. Making your application cross-platform is the most efficient way to scale your user base.

Rather than making any bullet point slides, we did our best to make the slides visually entertaining. So even if our voices would suddenly mute, you have at least something nice to look at. As the author of SPE I made sure that all code slides have a pretty syntax highlight. Combining Pygments with Inkscape rocks!

I hope to see you at our talk at Friday 02:55pm @ Centennial II !
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