Alex Dante (alex23) wrote,
Alex Dante
alex23

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Python is the new black

For the past 5-6 weeks, I've been committed to looking for a new job. Overall, the process has been as demoralising as I remember it, with the added bonus that I seem to have skilled myself totally out of the Brisbane job market. The primary skill set required by Brisbane organisation continues to be C++, Java AND C# (yes, generally all three are listed as essential, ffs), only one of which even comes close to being - in my opinion, of course - suitable for the environments they're deployed in. Maybe it's just from the decade+ I spent in the public service, where the business rules would change drastically with every election, public scandal or boneheaded management hire, but for me the most important coding skill I've learned in recent years is agility...by the time you finished your C++ app in Queensland government, the odds of it actually being useful were astronomically opposed. At least, that's what I learned on the first two software projects I worked on for the DPI, before they decided in-house development was a costly exercise in wankery.

My weapon of choice for the past few four years has been Python (prior to that it was Eiffel...another choice that tended to make people scoff). I find myself excitedly babbling about its capabilities to other programmers to the extent that I sound at times like I've descended into full advocacy. Which I kind of have, but not out of any blind faith in it - there are and continue to be some nasty edges that hinder wider deployment - but because no other language has made me as productive as Python. Except for maybe MOO code...but there's not much in the way of paying jobs for MUD coders these days :)

So I admit to feeling a kind of a smug vindication with the launch of the Google App Engine, a development & hosting framework that allows for web applications which will scale up to meet demand. Smug because the entire stack feels like it was custom written for me :) Yes, I know there will be support for other languages coming soon, but the framework itself is very heavily python-based and feels nicely pythonic at all levels. Google has always been my go-to example of a large scale organisation that makes heavy use of Python, but until now I haven't been able to make use of that in an immediate way. With the launch of GAE (that really feels like a poorly thought out acronym...), I am given direct access to some funky Google tech and, most excitingly IMO, the ability to make apps that utilise Google's authentication system. My biggest gripe right now is with the endless number of identities I'm required to manage to use the web, and until OpenID reaches more stable penetration I'm happy to make use of one of the more reputable identity providers out there. It's just a shame this didn't all happen before Google's CAPTCHA was broken...

Right now I'm familiarising myself with the provided APIs by converting a couple of toy projects over to the framework, although I'm disinclined to upload them until the ability to delete existing applications is added (there's currently a cap on the number of apps each developer can deploy, although this is just the 'preview' period). However, if anyone has any ideas for a nice niche webapp that they feel the world is missing, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Frankly, I get sick of my own ideas at times, and would be more than happy to take a fun idea and run with it.

Until I find a paying job, that is.
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