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How to get ready for the PyCon development sprints

[A guest post by Kushal Das, one of the 2016 Sprint Coordinators]

So — you have already decided to join in the PyCon development sprints! The sprints run for four days, from Thursday to Sunday after the conference. You do not have to be registered for the conference to attend the sprints! Some teams plan to write code over all four days, while some projects plan a shorter sprint if the organizers cannot stay for all four days.

Can you start getting prepared for the sprint ahead of time? Yes!

There are several things you can do ahead of time, that can save effort once you arrive at the sprints — and some preparations can even be made at home, before you arrive at PyCon:

  • Have your operating system updated and patched — whether Mac, Windows, or Linux. This eliminates one possible source of problems with getting software up and running.
  • Go ahead and install the version control system that will be used by the projects you are interested in. If you install both git and Mercurial on your computer, you will be ready to help with almost any project at the sprints.
  • If you might be sprinting with a project whose code is written in C, you should have the default compiler for your platform installed. This will usually be make and gcc in Linux, and the Xcode tools on the Mac. You will have the chance to learn more about these at the Intro to Sprints session.
  • Browse ahead of time our list of projects that will be sprinting. If there are projects that especially interest you, try checking out their latest source code to your laptop and attempt to build the project and run its tests successfully. If you run into snags, see whether the project has a project mailing list or IRC channel where you could ask questions. Or you could wait and ask for help from the project leads in person once you arrive on-site at the sprint itself, where they can iterate more quickly on the error you are facing. I took this approach myself in 2013 while attending my first-ever PyCon development sprint! For the CPython project, you can consult https://docs.python.org/devguide/ for the steps on how to build it.
  • Not every project that will be sprinting is listed yet on our projects page. The official list of sprinting projects is presented in a quick presentation a few minutes after the final PyCon keynote ends and the conference ends. Each project lead will come to the stage and introduce their project in around 30–45 seconds. Here is the long queue of project leads waiting to present at 2013:

The long queue of sprinters

  • If you are yourself a project lead or developer for an open source project, feel free to add your project to our list if you are prepared to come lead a sprint. Be sure that you are ready with a checkout of the latest source code, and a list of features and bugs on which both beginners and experienced programmers can work.

  • Remember to use the rule of two feet: if you are not enjoying a particular project, feel free to go visit all of the other rooms and tables and projects. Work on whichever projects you like. No one will feel bad if you leave one table and join another one.

We will be presenting an “Introduction to Sprints” workshop starting at 4:30pm on June 1st in the Oregon Ballroom 201–202. If there are spaces left, you can pre-register yourself for the session on EventBrite:

Intro to Sprints event sign-up page on EventBrite

Finally, remember to enjoy your time at PyCon. This is the time of the year when we all can meet, discuss new ideas, showcase our work, and make new friends.

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