PyCon India, Bangalore 2014

PyCon India 2014 was scheduled on 25-27 September, 2014(different date) but the same venue(Nimhans Convention Center, Bangalore) as last year with nearly the same booths, some new sponsors but larger and a more interactive crowd. It was fairly an enjoyable experience at PyCon India 2014 and felt awesome to be identified as a speaker again this year. I traveled to Bangalore a day before the Workshop day at PyCon as I had to take a workshop on “Test your web application with Selenium“. The one hour journey to Bangalore was followed by heavy rains as if it never rained before in Bangalore. Though the driver himself said, “Madam, I have never seen so much of rain in Bangalore before.” As it is I was travelling at the peak hours and the rains added to the traffic jam and blocked roads. As this was my second visit to PyCon, I was kinda familiar with the traffic in Bangalore and relaxed while the cab dropped me to the destination.

As the regular regime at PyCon India, Day 1 had workshops scheduled. I reached the venue around noon as I had my workshop scheduled at 4:00 pm. It is good to be well in time before you start with your session. Completed the registration process and went down for lunch where I had a conversation with Michael Foord and Baiju M. The lunch was good in all but on exactly the same pattern as last year. I grabbed a seat at the back in Audi 1 and did some last minute preparations for my workshop.  My workshop was scheduled in Audi 2, same as last year where I gave the talk. I walked upto Audi 2 to see how things were going on and found it really weird that how can anyone run a workshop by being on the podium. As I was conducting a workshop and not delivering a talk, so I wanted the setup a level below in order to connect better with the participants. The volunteers helped me with the setup which made it possible for me to code along with the participants and make sure the participants had some take away learning. I started with a quick introduction from the participants and glad to know that most of them were new to Selenium except a few who were using Selenium with Java and wanted to learn how Selenium works with Python. I began the session with a brief introduction to Selenium, followed by Selenium IDE hands on session and further Selenium Python bindings. Application under test for the workshop was placebo/sample application . Most of the participants had done the setup locally and for those who couldn’t manage to host the application locally, I had a backup and hosted the application on Openshift ( didn’t want to waste time on resolving node.js issues rather focus on Selenium 😉 ). Everyone enjoyed using the Selenium IDE as a record and play tool and could manage to run scripts and also observe its limitations by themselves. Using the Selenium IDE we converted the code into Python 2/ unittest/webdriver format and I gave them an explanation to the basic layout of the test script and how it works. Post that we started writing some code for our test cases based on the sample application. I uploaded the test scripts on github and from there we started with and started writing all the test cases and build our suite. Step by step I covered inspecting the elements on the web page using id, class and XPath and then gradually moved towards generating HTML reports. Most of the participants were keeping up with the pace and those who lagged behind, I was able to pull them successfully. Some of the tweets.. ,   It was good to see that people were going with the flow and learning Selenium. I was able to finish the workshop well in time and attendees responded pretty well. One of the feedback for Day 1 is that the volunteers/organizers should consider what all was there the previous year before planning for the next year’s conference as there were some loop holes on Day 1 compared to previous year  regarding the setup for speakers and video recordings.

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Day 2 started with keynote speech by Kushal Das. The day proceeds as per the schedule with regular talks. There were a couple of new booths this time while there were some old ones on the same spot 😛 . I was busy hopping in and out of the talks and checking out some booths. I was pretty sincere last year in attending talks but this year spent more time outside the auditorium talking to people around. Red Hat was a silver sponsor this time and we had a booth space too. I did spend some time sitting around with colleagues at the booth for some chit chat 😉 . Lightening talks was an interesting slot where a 12 year old kid took over the stage too.  Evening I visited Matteo Coffea, Church Street for coffee, cafe was big enough in size(bigger than any cafe I’ve visited in Pune till now) with the essence of coffee in the air. Also, if you are in Bangalore, you shouldn’t miss the food at MTR 1924. The day was exciting all in all until my phone fell from a considerable height and I found a broken screen and unresponsive touch. ah! Unwanted expenses on my plate 😦 This added to the adventure in the Bangalore trip where I survived without a phone for more than 24 hours which included Day 3 at PyCon and travel from Bangalore to Pune.


Day 3  was exciting for me, as I walked without a phone(though it doesn’t help you in walking but makes you feel connected). At the conference, there was keynote speech by Michael Foord followed by talks in two parallel tracks. dgplug meeting headed by Kushal Das was going on for hours on the staircase. The T-Shirt distribution started by afternoon with a long queue in place right after the announcement and continued for hours. I still wonder, despite of being recognized as a speaker and having paid the registration fees, how can a volunteer say “We do not have T- Shirts for those who have done on-the-spot registrations.” This was extremely annoying but you let go..   The t-shirt design was good though but considering the Bangalore and Pune weather t-shirt could have been half sleeves. Lunch was good enough, there was an interesting drink ‘Litchi Punch’ where the caterer was tired of telling people the name of the drink as it looked like Lassi/Chach.  The panel discussion was interesting, where the three panelists gave their views on ‘Which Python Web Framework Should I choose? Flask vs Django vs’. The regular talks and then there were lightening talks. I gave a lightening talk on Women in Open Source Award telling people what is the award all about. The award complements the existing Women Outreach programs by shining a spot light on the women who are making great contributions to Open Source.The initiative is to encourage more women to join us and to help improve the sad Male: Female ratio in Open source community. I had some hand outs with me which I distributed while leaving the auditorium and it looked that my talk made a some impact when more people asked for the hand outs (but they were less in number). Right after my lightening talk, @twitortat supported and spoke about some initiatives we could take up and have more women speakers as well as participants at the coming up conferences. It was good to meet some of the female students who were a part of dgplug and contributing to open source, hope to see more women in the crowd in all the open source communities. I had to rush for the Airport right after and the conference was a wonderful experience this time.

After years, I happened to use the Free phone facility at the Bangalore Airport and thinking I could not connect to Wi-Fi(at Airport) as I did not have a phone made me feel even worse. I managed to reach home safely(#withoutAphone) 😉 If you haven’t seen this video ->  ‘Look up‘, watch it 😉

Thank you PyCon India for giving me an opportunity to be a speaker for two consecutive years. The response from the participants at my workshop as well as talk(last year) has been positive enough to keep me going. PyCon India 2014 was awesome, kudos to all the volunteers/organizers who were running the show. 🙂




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