When it was announced back in 2011 that the Python Conference was coming to Montreal for 2014 and 2015, the Canadian community took notice. “Pycon” is the international conference focused on the Python programming language, and has never been hosted in a Canadian city. The first Pycon was held in Washington in 2003.
This year’s PyCon isn’t until April- four months away- but the Canadian tech community is already planning around it. ThreeFortyNine is a Guelph-based coworking space notable for its five hour train rides to Montreal for the International Startup Festival. It organized the memorable “Startup Train” each of the last two summers.
Now ThreeFortyNine is already ramping up planning for its “Python on Rails” train to PyCon 2014 (I’ll give ThreeFortyNine many props for that solid pun). That’s right: the locomotive fun continues in 2014 when Brydon Gilliss and ThreeFortyNine will book a few Via Rail train cars (including the bar car, obviously), which will facilitate a lot of new friendships.
“A Via Rail train car filled with everyone from Pythonistas to PyCon first timers, enjoying food, drinks, and maybe a few talks to get us ready for PyCon,” reads the Python on Rails web page. “Hold off on booking your travel for PyCon 2014 until we have finalized details about Python on Rails, aka Snakes on a Train! Whether you are flying to Canada or taking the train from the US or Ontario, plan to join us in Toronto for the trip from Union Station to Montreal. When we arrive we will be a mere 5 minute walk from Palais des congrès de Montréal.”
Right now those who sign up can only get email updates. Around January or February ThreeFortyNine should begin tickets.
This past summer I rode the Startup Train to the Startup Fest, and it’s well worth it. It’s not like a typical networking event where people show up, shake their quota of hands, and leave as they please. When one is locked in a train for five hours, one must act social and engage in conversation. What inevitably results for people is new friends and business connections. Who knows how those will shape up over the next few years. In general, I’m a huge supporter of doing things like this, at the very least to forge new connections and paths in life.
Gillies told us that Python on Rails is being organized with Albert O’Conner and the WatPy folks. That’s the Waterloo Region Python Group.
“Our trains really have to be experienced to understand them,” said Gilliss. “Our focus is all about connections, and we really want the people on our train to hit Montreal and the larger conference feeling like they have a crew of their own. It allows them to enjoy the conference more but also get a ton more value out of it. Having others in your crew allows you to know what you’re looking for, who you’d like to meet and it increases the odds you’ll hit your goals.”
About 2,000 people were expected to have attended last year’s conference in Santa Clara, California. PyCons are typically held in cities two years in a row, so before Santa Clara the conference was held in Atlanta (2010-2011) and Chicago (2008-2009). Many cities around the world have their own active Python developer communities, including Montréal-Python, an active and important community of Python programming language users founded in 2007.
As for Python on Rails, Gilliss said that people don’t necessarily have to be coders to join the train, only with an interest in PyCon. “My guess is that will include python coders but also lot’s of folks who want to meet and work with python folks. Startups who are looking for technical cofounders comes to mind as one,” he said.