PyCascades 2021 - Thoughts from an Attendee

The organizers of PyCascades put on an amazing remote event for the 2021 edition. Over the last 12 months, conference leaders have adapted to the situation and demonstrated their agility. PyCascades was no exception. The main day event was on Saturday 2/20/2021 and was flawless. The conference plaftorm was conducive to a pleasant remote conference with everything at the attendees’ fingertips: interactive track, recorded track, chat with the speakers and attendees, help, code of conduct, and more. Read on for my thoughts on some of the sessions, along with linked videos and additional resources!

PyCascades Interactive Sessions

This year, the PyCascades virtual conference had two tracks, an interactive track, and a pre-recorded track. I attended all the interactive tracks as I wanted to get the vibe of the live interaction with the other attendees and speakers. The next sections briefly provide a few points about each of the interactive sessions.

Core Python Devs on how COVID has changed core Python development

As highlighted in this first discussion of the day, although everyone misses the interaction in-person, we also get the benefit of attending great sessions from the comfort of our home, avoiding flights, hotels, and related costs. An additional benefit was to hear that Guido van Rossum went out of retirement due to the boredom of visiting the same Bay Area parks over and over 😀

Nina Zakharenko led the discussion involving Mariatta Wijaya, Carol Willing, Brett Cannon and Guido van Rossum.

The speakers discussed the challenges and the adaptation of core Python development since the beginning of the pandemic.

This was a great start to the day!

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Technical Python Books by Authors Al Sweigart, April Speight, Harry Percival

Ashia Zawaduk hosted the second interactive session of the day. How hard is it to write technical books? April Speight, Harry Percival and Al Sweigart shared their experience, the ups and downs, the fun and not-so-fun feelings of writing technical books. The three authors have all published popular Python books.

I highly recommend that you check out April’s book Bite-Size Python: An Introduction to Python Programming.

Fireside chat with Łukasz Langa and Dustin Ingram about their favorite tools, packages, and workflows for advanced Python development

Dustin Ingram and Łukasz Langa got deep into technical discussions. Dustin started with Python 3.9.2, released the day before the conference. This release includes two security fixes. Security was also in the news with a vulnerability consisting in replacing private packages with public ones. This affects Python, Ruby and NPM. Here are a few of the tools and technologies that Dustin and Łukasz discussed:

You will definitely want to watch the video to hear a lot more from Dusin and Łukasz:

In the conference chat, Łukasz pointed to a clever usage of the walrus operator with the following example:

>>>  f"{(new:=1)} {new}"
'1 1'

If the name already exists, you may get an unexpected result if you forget the parentheses:

>>> f"{new:=20} {new}"
'                   1 1'

I leave it up to the reader to solve this mystery. Hint: the clue lies in the format specification of format(). You can find more details in A Guide to the Newer Python String Format Techniques.

Sparking Creativity and Joy in LED Art with CircuitPython

Debra Ansell brought plenty of colors with an impressive talk about using CircuitPython to brighten your day by animating LEDs with Python. The best is to watch the video 💥

Here are some useful resources to awaken the creative maker in yourself:

Worldwide Python Communities: Learn From Organizers in Africa, Indonesia, and South Korea

This discussion panel led by Dan Mouris was a real breath of fresh air. The passion of Marlene Mhangami from Zimbabwe, Dima Dinama from Indonesia and Younggun Kim from South Korea are a testament to the current health of Python and a sign for a bright future.

These young leaders perfectly illustrated the powerful statement in the Python circles:

I came for the language, I stay for the community.

Introducing the FARM stack - FastAPI, React, & MongoDB

There was no cattle involved in this fast-paced presentation by Aaron Bassett. The FARM stack combined the following technologies:

In less than 30 minutes Aaron demonstrated how to build a task manager with an asynchronous I/O Python backend, a MongoDB storage, and a dynamic frontend powered by React.

Aaron shared additional resources related to the FARM Stack.

Caito Scherr explained how to implement a data pipeline using PyFlink to create User Defined Functions (UDF) in Apache Flink, a stateful stream processing engine.

🐍 🐿

All About Podcasting: By the Hosts of Talk Python to Me, Test & Code

Madison Swain-Bowden led a discussion with Python podcasting experts, Michael Kennedy and Brian Okken.

Michael and Brian are producing weekly popular Python podcasts:

This conversation drove Michael and Brian to share some interesting behind-the-scenes details related to podcasting. They discussed tips about the type of microphone to use and where to place it, the software used to manipulate the audio, and their observations regarding the impact of COVID on their audience. This was a facet of podcasting that you usually don’t hear about. This was also a good opportunity to see Michael and Brian on video, as I usually only listen to their podcast.


I truly enjoyed PyCascades and I hope to attend again next year. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to PyCon 2021 scheduled in May 2021.

Here is a recap of the main PyCascades links:

Andre Burgaud

Andre Burgaud @andreburgaud