May 05

Boston's CPython sprint for new contributors

In April, Boston Python ran its first ever CPython development sprint for new contributors.

In April, Boston Python ran its first ever CPython development sprint for new contributors.

Here was the pitch:

Want to contribute to Python? Join us for a 1-day development sprint on the CPython language implementation and standard library. This event is focused specifically on new contributors to the language! Several committers and experienced contributors will be with us to help with the mechanics of the contribution process as we triage tickets and make progress on bugs.

Our goal is for everyone to have submitted at least one patch by the end of the event!

20 new CPython developers got together and made progress on almost 40 tickets that afternoon:

(I assure you that these are the concentrated looks of people having fun on the inside as they work on tickets and chat on IRC :) )

This was a successful event: almost everyone made serious progress on at least one ticket, a bunch of tickets were resolved, and most people said they intend to keep contributing. I look forward to running more CPython sprints with Boston Python, and I'd love to see more user groups pursuing this event style to bring new folks into the contributor community.

Running a CPython development sprint for new contributors

One day (really, one afternoon) is not much time, so here's what we did to try and maximize the efficiency of those hours.

1. Audience

This was an event targeted at folks who were new CPython contributors but had prior open source contribution experience. The event assumed that everyone was comfortable with concepts like version control, patches, and issue trackers, freeing us to instead focus on the mechanics of contributing specifically to CPython.

We try to create many opportunities within Boston Python to learn the general tools of open source development. To folks interested in participating in this CPython sprint who didn't have the prerequisites, we gave the specific recommendation of working through the OpenHatch open source training missions at a Boston Python project night and then joining us at a future sprint.

2. Pre-event setup

Here are the pre-event setup instructions we sent out earlier in the week. They cover environment setup, communication, and the patch submission process:

A. Please get set up to use IRC (here's a quick-start guide) and visit #bostonpython and #python-dev on Freenode.

B. Please visit and complete steps 1 - 3 of the Quick Start guide, namely:

  • Get the source code
  • Build Python
  • Run the tests

Note that you may first need to install some dependencies, for example the mercurial revision control system or a C compiler.

The test suite should run to completion without errors. If you need help with any of these steps, please ask for help on IRC in #bostonpython.

C. Please create an account on the Python issue tracker at

D. Please read through the following sections of the developer guide at

  • 1. Getting Started
  • 2. Where to Get Help
  • 3. Lifecycle of a Patch
  • 4. Running & Writing Tests
  • 10. Issue Tracking
  • 17. Development Cycle

Completing these steps prior to the sprint ensured that we didn't get hung up on slow checkouts or build failures and could start making progress on tickets from the get-go.

3. Bitesized bugs

You could spend an entire afternoon just finding a ticket to work on. To avoid that, prior to the event helpers curated a list of tickets appropriate for first-time contributors, with a bit of annotation on the type and difficulty of the work to be done. Here's a small section of that list:

... - urllib build_opener skips ProxyHandler - requires analysis and experimentation to see if it is a real bug or a doc bug - example for calling static methods - simple doc clarification issue with suggested wording - DeprecationWarning applies to wrong context with exec() -  a somewhat deeper C issue - webbrowser produces zombie processes - has been reproduced with python3 and firefox (but not chrome) - doctest doesn't find doctests in extension modules - fix needs refinement and a test added (via the Module/xxmodule, I think) - cmd module tab misbehavior - real solution requires a compatibility layer between readline and libedit, so this is a more involved project - ftplib Persistent data connection - patch needs updating, especially the tests

We strove for a diverse mix of tickets from which hopefully everyone could find something relevant to their interests, background, and computing environment: bugfixes, documentation, Windows, pure Python, C, tests, etc.

The most important feature of a good newcomer ticket is that it has a clearly-defined next step for someone to work on.

4. Experienced helpers

When you have a bunch of first-timers sprinting together, it's helpful to have experienced contributors in the room to answer procedural questions, make technical judgement calls, and take triage actions that require elevated issue tracker privileges. It's also very motivating to have the tight feedback loop of submitting a patch, going through a round of review or two within a few minutes, and getting your patch merged right at the event by the committer sitting next to you!

We were fortunate to have CPython committers R. David Murray and Jack Diederich with us, as well as contributors Sijin Joseph, Kent Johnson, Ned Batchelder, and Ned Jackson Lovely. Thank you to these helpers who generously donated their time and patience!

5. Follow-up

Not every ticket can get reviewed at the event. After a flurry of triage and patch submissions, it's important to follow up on those tickets and make sure they get timely attention and resolution in the issue tracker.

We kept a list of the tickets sprinters worked on and which tickets still needed attention after the event, checking in on them with our volunteer committers periodically over the last 3 weeks. I can happily report that almost all of the tickets worked on at the sprint have had responses and in many cases patches merged and resolution.

Boston's April 2013 CPython sprint log

Feb 26

WebTest Paris Sprint Report

Sprint report from Gael Pasgrimaud



The WebTest Paris sprint occurred from 21th to 23th of February. The main goal was to improve the tests coverage because testing your code with a poorly tested library is a shame. And we made it! We were 6 people during the two first day and we were all focused on the task. We worked hard the first day (something like 14 hours) and the goal was achieved at the end of the second day. We now have 100% of test coverage!

We also created two new packages to move some code outside the project. We now have webtest-selenium which allow to use the WebTest API to run some tests with a Selenium server and webtest-casperjs to run some caperjs tests in an external process from a standard unittest test case.

We celebrated that with the sprinters and other members of the French python community (AFPy) at the "AFPyro" (which is mostly a social beer event) on friday evening.

We were 4 people for the last day. Two of us mostly focused on some documentation improvements, mostly API reference. We also added WSGIProxy2 support to allow you to use WebTest to run some tests with a real web server as target. For example this will allow you to check that your production server doesn't raise a 500 error at the first click. And finally, two of us just tried to use WebTest to test his project. That way we discovered a new bug which is now tested and fixed! Also, we fixed all the bug issues in the github tracker.

This ends up with a WebTest 2.0 release!

Thanks to all the sprinters (Domen, Stephane, Arthur, Christophe, Mathieu, Guillaume, George, Gael) and to the sponsors -- PSF and AFPy -- and to Bearstech for hosting the sprint!

It was really a both productive and fun event!


Dec 20

Pandas-PyData Workshop in NYC

Here's a report from Pandas/PyData Workshop organizer, Vid Ayer:

I am happy to share with you all some details of our successful event - On Sunday Dec 16, Chang She conducted a Pandas workshop hosted by Pivotal Labs at NYC. Kick-started a little past 10 AM, he wound his way through the Pandas data structures for 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D, data, DataFrame components and indexing, accessing data via files and DB's, Broadcasting and some basic Statistical computations.

It was not all theory, as all the participants were following and experimenting on their laptops, in part, thanks to Asheesh's excellent Laptop setup guide, enabling attendees to come with configured machines, making it easier to get going with Pandas. They worked on the small tasks/exercises that Chang gave out as the session progressed.

Post lunch, it Sprint time ! Very exciting to see the attendees pored over their machines, trying to tackle Pandas bugs, working in small groups of 2 or even 3 people with Chang going around each group to help and guide them, ably aided by Asheesh. The sprint went on till evening, when finally at 05:45pm, Pivotal Labs had to ask us to leave.

Pictures speak a thousand words: 

  1. Pictures on Google+
  2. Pictures on Flickr
  3. The video will be up on soon.

Here are some statistics, for those that love numbers:

  • 31 registrations (Capped at 30, but we had a waiting list that accommodated the cancellations.)
  • 18 people attended the Pandas Workshop-Sprint
  • 7 female (39%) attendees :-)) 

This entire event would not have been possible without our generous sponsors. A huge Thank you to:

  • Pivotal Labs, our generous host for the day -Thanks JT for spending an entire Sunday with us. 
  • The Python Software Foundation, whose generous grant for Breakfast+Lunch and Asheesh's travel from Boston, kept us fueled and on track all day.
  • O'Reilly Media, who gave all attendees a free E-book copy of Wes McKinney's Python for Data Analysis, including a 40% discount on the print copy of Wes' book.
  • OpenHatch, whose staff member Asheesh Laroia spent time prepping before the workshop and helped organize in person.

Thank You!
Thanks and Regards,

Dec 13

PyData NYC Workshop/Sprint

Although the event is already sold out, we're happy to announce that we're sponsoring this weekend's PyData workshop and sprint in New York! Lead by Pandas developer Chang She, the event will require only minimal Python knowledge and will hopefully get all attendees the knowledge to take Pandas to the next level as users and also involve them in contribution.

The workshop portion begins at 10:00 on Sunday December 16 at Pivotal Labs and runs through the early evening. The last few hours are going to be set aside to contribute directly to the Pandas project.

This event is the first since the PSF's suggestion that events consider a code of conduct, and the organizers have chosen to implement the PyCon 2013 Code of Conduct!

Jul 20


While reading up on the latest RaspberryPi news, the front page of had a post that quickly caught my eye: Raspithon - 48 hours of Python.

Hosted by Ryan Walmsley and joined by his friends Ben, Edward, and Luke, this group of 12 to 16 year olds from around the globe have decided to join forces to hack on their RasPis. They decided that by organizing a weekend sprint, they'll sharpen their Python skills, raise some money for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and produce a fun game to share with the community.

They're looking to build a game about being stuck in space during an alien attack, and are going to be hosting the source on GitHub. Check out their blog at for more details and to follow along as the weekend goes on.

Throughout their sprint, they'll be collecting donations to give to the Foundation.

May 11

OpenHatch Sprint in San Francisco

If you're in the San Francisco area this weekend, join up with Asheesh Laroia, Deborah Nicholson, and friends and do some fun hacking with Django. Continuing the work that a group of volunteers did on the OpenHatch website, Sunday May 13 will be another chance to improve this already cool site.

Asheesh and the other OpenHatch organizers are well experienced in running sprints like this, so you'll be sure to have a good time and make a good impact. Just check out their blog and see the events they've put on around the country. Asheesh recently hosted a sprint at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jessica recently put on another great Boston Python Workshop, and much more.

They're already expecting 5-7 attendees. Can you make it? Bring your friends -- the more the merrier!

If you're in the area and need more details, see their mailing list post!

Nov 29

OpenHatch Sprint Report

Contributed by Asheesh Laroia, the sprint organizer.


On Sunday, November 13, with the help of a grant from Python Sprints, contributors to OpenHatch got together to clean up documentation and get started on new projects. Here's what it looked like:

Four people attended our local Boston-area sprint, and one person sprinted remotely. We worked toward the release goals for the month: making a smoother setup process for new contributors, improving the front page of the site, and adding a feature to make the site more useful to project maintainers. Alas, Jessica McKellar, one of the main contributors, could not attend due to the Twisted sprint going on at the same time. Next time!

Jule Slootbeek began to add a much-needed feature to the app. M. Page-Lieberman, Deborah Nicholson, and I cleaned up and tested the developer documentation. Deb and Jule submitted their first patches. Karen Rustad, sprinted remotely, continuing her work on new information architecture for the front page of site. Here's Karen waving from Berkeley:

After four hours of eating, drinking, and hacking, it was time to pack up. I suggested we start having monthly sprints, and Jule countered that we should have them twice a month! I'm looking forward to having sprints more often; this sprint is a follow-up to ad-hoc OpenHatch sprints at PyCon and the Boston Python Project Night. Thanks to the PSF for sponsoring!


Nov 11

OpenHatch sprint - Cambridge, MA

If you're in the Cambridge, MA area this Sunday and looking to hack on a really cool project, Asheesh Laroia and crew are going to be working on the site. The site is Django-based and makes use of a number of great Django add-ons, so step up to the plate with your skills or sit down and learn a thing or two!

We're really happy to be sponsoring an OpenHatch sprint because it's a perfect fit for us. We're all about funding contributors to open source projects, and they're all about connecting contributors to open source communities in need. The site has tools for finding projects that need help, finding project mentors, and just offering your general help to see who bites. On the project side of things, they have ways of listing tasks you need help with, listing your project's bugs, and letting people know how they can contribute. It's a really great tool that we're hoping will really take off, and we're hoping this sprint will push them forward.

They're expecing a small group so you'll get some good guidance from the existing team members. If you're interested, sign up on their Doodle.

For more details on the event, see their announcement.

Oct 11

Twisted Sprint in Boston, MA

Join the Twisted team on October 15 for a day of sprinting towards an 11.1 release, consisting of plenty of bug fixing, feature adding, and documenting. Coached by the local core contributors, you'll have a chance to sit down and make an impact on the Twisted community, plus you'll learn a thing or two. They've been putting together sprints for quite a while, with reports here, so they're a great group to sit down with if you're a first timer.

The group expects to have 10-15 attendees, and the venue isn't decided yet besides being in the Boston area. We'll update you with solid details once we know them. They're looking to start around noon go through the evening.

If you're interested, contact them on Twitter @twistedmatrix, or contact us at and we'll pass on your info.

Jul 22

PyOhio Conference and Sprints at OSU

Come one, come all, even University of Michigan fans!

If you're in the midwest and looking for a great Python conference to go to, pack your bags and book your tickets to Columbus, Ohio on July 30 and 31. In fact, stay for August 1 and put in a whole day of sprinting! The conference is being held at the Ohio Union on the campus of The Ohio State University.

This year's talk schedule looks great, so get there early. Michael Yanovich is giving a Python 101 and 102 tutorial session for the beginners in the audience. Brandon Craig Rhodes has a lot on his plate with not one, not two, but three talks. Alex Ezell will be telling the journey of conference sponsor Emma's transition from PHP to Python. Eric Floehr, one of the conference organizers, will be leading a panel of entrepreneurs in an audience-led talk on consulting, selling Python products, and more.

After the talks are over, stick around in the evenings to hack with the best of 'em. So far the list includes Rick Harding at the helm of a sprint on Bookie, a alternative built with Pyramid and SqlAlchemy. Anthony Long will captain the porting of Jellyfish, a JavaScript execution framework, to Python. Morgan Goose, core contributor to Fabric, will be leading a sprint to make the project "even awesomer" as the conference sprints page says.

Is your sprint not listed? Want to start your own sprint? Email and get it listed! Hell, just show up with a laptop and sprint to your heart's content.

We're looking forward to the great things a sprint like this can achieve. Sitting face to face with the leaders of a project is a great time to get started if you're a first timer, a great time to sit down and flesh out the details and code of some of the murky parts of a codebase, and so much more.

If your local user group or conference is hosting a sprint, let us know at We want to sponsor you.

Jun 21

Sprints at EuroPython

Cap off a great conference by joining the sprints in Florence June 24-26

If you're at EuroPython this year we hope you're enjoying the great talks, and we also hope you're sticking around for the sprints on Friday! The list already includes a lot of great projects from CPython to PyPy, a number of Django and Django-related projects, and several others. If there's nothing on the list you want to work on, feel free to start your own sprint!

Even if you can't come to the conference itself, the sprints are free for all to attend. We're going to be sponsoring the sprints thanks to CPython developer Ezio Melotti bringing it to our attention, and as always, we're glad to be helping out.

If you can join in the sprints, please do -- you'll love it. Sprinting at a conference like EuroPython is a ton of fun with people from all over getting together to work on amazing things.

As always, contact us at if we can help with your next sprint.

Jun 16

PEP-382 sprint in Maryland

After announcing a great event on the west coast of the US, a group on the east coast is also gathering up for a sprint. Details are still rolling in as attendance is figured out, but the sprint will take place somewhere in Montgomery County, Maryland - in the Silver Spring/Bethesda/Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C. area.

Lead by long-time CPython developer Barry Warsaw, the group plans to hack on PEP-382 namespace packages starting at 4 PM on Tuesday June 21. They're looking at renting a meeting room somewhere in the area, or they might end up hanging out at a local restaurant or even Barry's house!

If you're interesting in sprinting with them, check out this thread on the Bacon-PIG mailing list.

Contact us at if you're planning a sprint. We have funding available and want to help more groups like this.

Jun 09

PyLadies sprint in Los Angeles

We were recently introduced to a great new group for women in the Python community: PyLadies! Lead by Audrey Roy and Katharine Jarmul, the group hosts events to get women involved in Python in the greater Los Angeles, California area. From starter workshops to user-group style talks, they've had a few meetings already, including one that had to be resized due to such a large turnout. That's an awesome problem to have, especially for a new group.

The next event on their calendar is the PyLadies Hackathon on Saturday June 18, 2011 which we're happily sponsoring. The group plans to have plenty of mentors available to help you find something to work on whether it's for yourself or for open source, or if it's your first time writing Python code. The last hour of the sprint is going to play host to lightning talks - get up there and talk about what you hacked on! Afterwards they are following it up with the fourth PyLadies Night at Hollywood Canteen.

If you happen to work on any open source code while you're there, the ladies had some shirts made for those contributing:

If you're interested in attending the sprint, sign up via Eventbrite.

If you would like to host a sprint in your area, contact us at

May 13

Sponsoring DjangoCon EU 2011

This year's European DjangoCon takes place on June 6-8 in Amsterdam, and we're pitching in to fund their sprints. Following three days of talks, the two day sprint from June 9 through 10 takes place at De Waag in the center of Amsterdam. Yes, the sprint takes place in a castle, and castles are awesome so we couldn't say no.

The venue has quite the history behind it, and it looks like an interesting venue to get together with some of the best Django hackers around to crank out some great code.

The organizers plan to coordinate with the core Django developers to sketch out a plan for what to work on, and there will also be an introduction to first time sprinters. Check out the talk schedule for more details!

If you're hosting a Python sprint, contact us at - we'd like to sponsor it.

Apr 12

PyCamp Argentina Follow-up

PyAr and friends took over Córdoba, Argentina for a fun weekend of Python hacking. Oh, and juggling.

Córdoba, Argentina recently played host to a very successful weekend of Python sprinting. From March 24 to 27 with help from the PSF and PyAr, a pretty sizeable group got together to hack on various Python projects together.

Facundo Batista continued the effort to introduce Python 3 support to Twisted, which he began at PyCon. Fellow organizer Juan Diaz also contributed some Twisted work. Both of their work made it into trunk since the sprints. Great work!

The CDPedia project got a lot of attention that weekend, with everyone coming together to bring the project up to a 0.7 release. CDPedia aims to get the Castillian version of Wikipedia onto a single CD, with the goal of distributing the content across the country. With this project, all of the school kids across Argentina can now learn without being tethered to the internet. What a great topic for a weekend sprint - and it gets better.

Pilas, a video game framework that uses a localized API to help Argentinian school children understand it, also got plenty of love. They also reached an important milestone: the API can now be modified to support other languages, so they can now help an even wider range of people learn Python by making games!

The group also spent some time on Django and CPython, then made time for visiting historic locations in town. Some of them got together for juggling lessons and a few even hacked out by the pool.


They had quite a busy weekend, but at least one of them found time to sleep.


For more pictures, check here and here.

If your group is interested in hosting a sprint, funding is available. Just email us at

Apr 08

matplotlib on Python 3 thanks to Cape Town group

Round two in Cape Town yields great success with matplotlib ported to Python 3

Last month the Cape Town Python Users Group got together again for a weekend porting session, this time on matplotlib. They brought together 8 people to knock out one of the larger roadblocks in wider adoption of Python 3 now that NumPy and SciPy are out of the way, and they did a great job pushing it forward.

By the end of the day they had matplotlib passing almost every test on both Python 2 and 3, and ended up fixing the outstanding tests later in the weekend. After some cleanup and organization, their patches landed in the matplotlib-py3k branch on github! If you're a Windows user, Christoph Gohlke has created binary installers from this branch for Python 3.2 here if you want to get your hands on it. We're definitely keeping an eye on this -- great work CTPUG!

This is exactly the type of sprint we'd love to see more of, and we'd love to fund your group to make it happen. CTPUG knows all about this: it's their second sprint organized with the help of PSF funding. Their first sprint to port Genshi to Python 3 was recently merged into the trunk, and they made a fun weekend out of it, complete with food, drinks, and a Python coffee mug for the attendees.

If your group is interested in organizing a sprint and would like to request funding from the PSF, contact us at We would be more than happy to work with you to fund your next event.

Mar 25

Sponsoring Flourish Conference - Chicago

This year's Flourish Conference, a 100% free three day conference, will be adding an interesting twist: a Python sprint! The conference is hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago ACM and LUG, and since they're all interested in Python, we're going to help as well.

The conference runs from Friday April 1 through Sunday April 3 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For their fifth year, they've picked talks on a wide range of topics, including one by recent PyCon speaker Chris McAvoy. They also have an expo hall, two workshops, and are hosting Linux Professional Institute and BSD certification tests.

For the Python sprint, topics are open but one theme the organizers hope to carry on from PyCon is increasing test coverage in CPython. Getting involved with test coverage is a good introductory task for those looking to work on Python, as you immediately become familiar with the development process and tools, and might even learn about a new module.

The organizers are also looking for help on Friday and Saturday. If you're in the Chicago area, experienced with Python, and interested in helping lead the sprint on those two days, contact Joel on the Flourish organizers team.

See their directions page for how to get there and where to go.

Mar 25

Sponsoring PyCamp - Argentina

Through March 27, a group of 15-20 hackers will be ascending the mountains of Córdoba, Argentina for a weekend of Python. Lead by Facundo Batista and Juan Diaz, the group has plenty of ideas for what to hack on.

Since Facundo is a long-time core CPython developer, one of the plans is for a Python bug day, to get everyone setup and start fixing Python itself. They also plan to work on Twisted, including a continuing effort to reach Python 3 compatibility. Several sprinters will also be spending time on internationalization and translation of some modules and documentation, including an effort to get the Castilian version of Wikipedia into CD format. Lastly, many are interested in Django and would like to dive in and find places where they can help out.

For more information, check out their wiki.

Feb 15

Portland sprint at Urban Airship

The Pacific Northwest takes a weekend to make Python a better place. Take a break from real life and hack with your friends in Portland.

The Portland Python Users Group is hosting a sprint February 26 at the headquarters of Urban Airship. The space has room for at least 40 people, but be sure to sign up here!

The group plans to spend some time on Fabric's multiprocessing branch, even including a look into a Python 3 port. Eric Holscher, one of the organizers of the sprint, plans to focus on Django features for 1.4, including forms improvements.

Flatland and Alfajor will also get some love and might see some Python 3 work as well. Last, but certainly not least, co-organizer Dan Colish plans to hack on PyPy, from 2.7 compatibility to benchmarking and testing on the platform. Join any of them or bring your own projects -- it's a day of hacking, fun, food, and friends.

On top of all of the third-party projects, they may spend some time on core development topics such as Python 3 features, doc and code bug fixing, and writing new tests. For those interested in starting on core development, we wrote a guide just for you: Beginners Guide to Python Core Development.

If you're interested in joining their sprint, don't forget to sign up. If you have questions, contact Dan and Eric.

Like what they're doing? Want to start up a sprint with your local user group? Let us know! Send us mail at and we'll work with you to fund your next event.

Feb 09

matplotlib porting in Cape Town

You asked for it, you got it.

If you're waiting on matplotlib to work on Python 3, you might not have to wait much longer. The Cape Town Python Users Group decided their next sprinting efforts will be focused on the py3k branch of matplotlib. The sprint is happening March 5 at 10:00, likely to be at the Yola offices where they held their Genshi porting sprint.

According to the poll of 3.x library support, matplotlib is the 4th most wanted. If you read Reddit, people have been asking about it for a while. Recent conversations I had with a traveling Python trainer pointed to this being the most wanted 3.x product. NumPy, the major roadblock to matplotlib on 3.x, was already ported. For all of these reasons, supporting a matplotlib sprint is a no-brainer.

They plan to build on the existing 3.x branch which is a work-in-progress. The main goal is to work through getting the test suite passing for at least one of the backends, then have a look at others as time allows. They're expecting 6-7 people, but you can always participate from home -- the more people we have porting things to Python 3, the better. Unfortunately you'll miss out on the sweet Python merchandise they are giving out -- last time they had coffee mugs made.

Additionally, if you noticed the date, it's right before PyCon (you should go). We will be putting together a lightning talk of some sort and we'll fill you in on the details of this sprint and others.

For more details, check out their site and contact Neil or Stefan.

If you want to hold a sprint and are interested in funding or promotion, email us at