Notes from PySIG, 22-May-2008: IPython and Frangoes

Twelve folks attended the May meeting of the Python Special Interest Group, held as usual at 7 PM on the fourth Thursday at the Amoskeag Business Incubator in Manchester, New Hampshire. Vigorous discussion, idea exchange, job openings and, yes, Python, was discussed in depth.

Bill Sconce was the master of ceremonies and lead off with his usual printed agenda of items: Welcome, Announcements, a round of introductions, Janet’s Famous Cookies (this week, Frangoes! Awesome!), open announcements and discussions of gotchas.

Sample Q: how to debug binary text that may or may not be Unicode? A: Mark Pilgrim’s Universal Encoding Detector, [link updated, tr] originally part of his famous Universal Feed Parser.

Sample Gotcha: scripts with a she-bang line might not always be transportable between Windows, Unix and OS X because of line ending differences. If your parser complains about invalid commands on the she-bang line, make sure your line endings are correct for the platform.

Shawn K. O’Shea arrived and proceded to note every passing mention (with links!) in his great blog entry at: http://www.eth0.net/blog/?p=12 — thanks, Shawn!

Kent asked about using Python to interface with an existing C++ code and a lot of useful suggestions were forthcoming.

Arc updated us on the state of PySoy: the major bug that was crashing PySoy seems to have been isolated, and the code is orders of magnitude more stable. Bug fixing is proceding apace and an end-of-summer major release appears feasible.

Discussion on the upcoming Software Freedom Day got an enthusiastic reception, with several folks considering something in their communities.

On to the main presentation: Kent presented his monthly Kent’s Korner featuring the IPython interactive shell. IPython is slick, with a slew of features and quite a bit of documentation as well. IPython is not just a shell, but also an embeddable library that can bring scripting features into your application, and can also be used as a non-blocking interface to graphical environments like GTK, Qt and Wx (unlike the standard Python shell, which only works against Tk). Anyone doing a lot of work with Python from the shell needs to check out IPython!

Thanks to Kent for the presentation, to Bill for running and promoting the show, to Janet for the awesome Frango cookies, to Shawn for the excellent capture of the night’s events, to ABI for their great facilities and to all for participating!

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