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Programming: Rust and Python

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  • This Week in Rust 242

    Always wanted to contribute to open-source projects but didn't know where to start? Every week we highlight some tasks from the Rust community for you to pick and get started!

  • Kindness and open-source projects

    Brett Cannon is a longtime Python core developer and member of the open-source community. He got to check off one of his bucket-list items when he gave a keynote [YouTube video] at PyCon 2018. That keynote was a rather personal look at what he sees as some problem areas in the expectations of the users of open-source software with respect to those who produce it. While there is lots to be happy for in the open-source world, there are some sharp edges (and worse) that need filing down.

    He started with his background as a way to show that he has the experience to give this talk. He is the development lead on the Python extension for Visual Studio Code, which is Microsoft's cross-platform open-source code editor. He noted that the two qualifiers for the editor are probably shocking to some. It was originally a community open-source project; Microsoft hired the developer behind it and it is now "corporate open source", Cannon said. That means there is a company backstopping the project; if the community fell away, the project would continue.

    He has been a Python core developer since April 2003; he got the commit bit shortly after attending the first PyCon (and he has attended every PyCon since as well). In contrast, Python is community open source; if the community disappeared, the project "would probably collapse within a month". He has contributed to over 80 open-source projects along the way; many of those were simply typo fixes of various sorts, but it has given him exposure to a lot of different development processes. "I've been lucky enough to have a broad range of exposure to open source overall."

  • Python and the web

    Dan Callahan is a developer advocate at Mozilla and no stranger to PyCon (we covered a talk of his at PyCon 2013). He was also the champion at Mozilla for the grant that helped revamp the Python Package Index (PyPI). At PyCon 2018, he gave a keynote talk [YouTube video] that focused on platforms of various sorts—and where Python fits into the platforms of the future.

    He began with a slide showing the IBM PCjr, which was the first computer IBM made for the home market. It was released in 1984 and immediately drew a bad reaction from the public and the press (Time magazine called it "one of the biggest flops in the history of computing"). Commercially and even objectively, the PCjr was a bad platform, he said.

    But when he was old enough to become interested in computers, that was the computer that was available to him—his father had bought one during the roughly one year they were available. He learned BASIC as his first language because the PCjr came with BASIC. He didn't think about it at the time, but his first language was chosen for him; he didn't get to consider what features he wanted or how the language's community was. His platform had determined the tool he would use.

    Fast-forward a few years to when he was in high school and had his own computer; even though he had access to Linux, PHP, and Perl, he still found himself programming in BASIC. This was the pre-smartphone era, so when he was bored in class, he had to find some other way to distract himself; he and his friends turned to TI-82 graphing calculators. Those were programmable in BASIC, so even though he had more sophisticated tools available to him, if he wanted to share something with his friends, it would have to be written in BASIC for the TI-82. That platform also dictated the tool that he would use.

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