I was sitting down last week looking at (yet another) problem where I needed to parse some data and bust it up into a tree, so that I could walk it and generate some specialized output. Generally, my need for doing this has been smallish, very specialized, and I know exactly what I want, so cranking out the code by hand is pretty painless. In this case, however, I need to parse some C, which isn’t all the friendly to parse without a compiler front-end. Which then lead me to think about ANTLR.
So, I started sending emails out announcing my intention to start a group… and it turns out that a Python Users Group just started down in Greenbelt called BACON-PIG. Looks like some major Python players are involved in the group, and Greenbelt is not that far from where I’m at (maybe 30 minutes). So I’m going to give the group a whirl and see how things go! If you’re near the area, consider attending!
So, I’ve always been jealous of ChiPy and BayPIGgies, and their endless stream of awesome Python talks. My first reaction was to move. :-) But that isn’t going to work out to well with my current work… so I opted for choice two: create a Python Users Group. I haven’t gotten us on the schedule at the library yet, but I’m prodding for interest from the community. So, if you’re in the Baltimore-Washington DC area, and are interested, drop me a line and let me know. I’d like to get a list of at least 10 names, and then schedule it in at Howard County Central Library. Check out their website for the exact location, but it’s in Columbia across the street from Columbia Mall. As soon as I get enough folks (and I should be close), I’ll reserve the room, and hopefully we can have our first meeting after the holidays!
So a little ways back I subscribed to Python Magazine, because I wanted to support the language. I didn’t really expect to learn much after having spent 6 years working with the language nearly every day. I must say that the latest edition of the magazine is awesome! In one edition, you can learn how to parse binary strings using a grammar, how to use Metaclasses to create an ORM, the advantages and disadvantages of slots, and Bazaar workflows!
Seems like more and more I’m finding applications that have little or no error handling strategy, which is a real shame. The job the application is performing is important to me: I want to use it to save myself the time and headache of doing something repetitive or mind-numbing. Unfortunately, while the application does its job well, it fails on less than perfect input. Now, I’ve been using computers since I could barely say “computer,” so I’m well-versed in telling my computer what it wants to know, in the format that it wants to know it. And I’ve become accustomed to looking at tracebacks and using other tools (strace, ltrace, gdb, etc.) to find what is breaking, and correct my input. However, that doesn’t work for your average user–even if your average user is a developer. The end result: the application ends up with a bad rap pretty quickly. This is especially true if you have a command line application, and you have a bunch of users who aren’t command line junkies.