Skip to main content

Microsoft’s Python team loves PyCon, including this year’s online version!

Microsoft returned as our top PyCon 2020 sponsor (for the 3rd year) and stepped forward to make another big investment in PyCon and its community. Microsoft not only uses Python for their own development but also offers Python as a crucial tool to empower everyone to achieve more.

I recently caught up with Dan Taylor and team to talk about how Microsoft is using Python and was excited to hear what they had to say.

PSF: What is the most valuable thing about sponsoring PyCon to your team?

Dan: PyCon is something we look forward to every single year. Our Python team at Microsoft loves to show our support for the Python community—and we love to give teams across Microsoft the chance to learn more about the Python community and bring that deep understanding back to the work we do, building tools and services for Python users.

PyCon is the largest Python conference in the world and the Python community is especially vibrant, diverse, and inclusive. We love that we can help make PyCon happen and bring the community together — and it feels good to help bring the community together in a unique, online, way this year.

Like everyone else, we are truly missing the ability to meet with Python developers in person, and we are putting all our energy into connecting with Python developers virtually. It has been fun exploring how to deliver our workshops, labs, booth demos, and even SWAG to you from our home offices while we shelter-in-place. Throughout the PyCon 2020 online event, we will be posting our virtual content on our PyCon 2020 Content Board, and our Python team will be available to chat with you on discord.

PSF: What is the team at Microsoft most excited to share with the Python community during PyCon 2020?

Dan: We’re super excited to share the improvements we’ve made for Python developers in Azure, especially our newer Linux offerings that enable you to build and deploy Python applications in the cloud at any scale.
The open source Postgres database is also very popular with many of you in the Python developer community. Which is why we are so excited that you can now build horizontally scalable PostgreSQL clusters by using Hyperscale (Citus), a built-in deployment option in our fully managed Azure Database for PostgreSQL, based on the Citus open source extension to Postgres.

We also have new goodies to share in Visual Studio Code, our free popular cross-platform editor with support for Python:
  • We’ve added the ability to natively edit Jupyter notebooks allowing you to work with Python code and interactive notebooks in the same workspace.
  • Especially for PyCon, our garage interns have added micro:bit and CLUE device support to our Device Simulator Express, which allows everyone to try out the new CLUE device from Adafruit without having the physical device. The CLUE has the same size and shape as the BBC micro:bit, and it has the same edge-connector on the bottom to make it compatible with existing kits. If you’re familiar with the micro:bit device, you have a clue on what we’re talking about (pun intended 😉).

PSF: Where does Python show its greatest strengths within your organization?

Dan: Microsoft is a huge organization with an incredibly diverse range of projects and an even wider range of customers. Many students (and professionals!) have their first programming experiences on our platforms, while some of the largest companies in the world run on our services.

Everyone has something they want to achieve, and we regularly see Python empowering our teams, our customers, and our users to reach their goals. The Python language has a way of hiding unnecessary complexity that welcomes new and aspiring developers, as well as those who are trained and experienced. Through increased participation, our customers and our own teams can achieve much greater things than they imagined.

PSF: Is your organization using Python in any surprising ways?

Dan: Is anything that surprising? It’s Python! After finding out that our legal team runs simulations in Python, our device teams build firmware with Python, our Bing team analyzes failures with Python, our Azure team generates documentation with Python, our security team investigates malware with Python, our Office team writes ML services in Python, numerous teams write build tools in Python, and so many more—well, there aren’t any surprises left.

Perhaps the most surprising thing to our team is that Python is flexible enough that all these teams are successful. One of Python’s greatest strengths is being a learn-once use-anywhere language, which means as our engineers invest in their own Python skills, they are able to bring value to any and every part of our organization.

PSF: What does the future of Python look like from Microsoft’s vantage point? What sorts of things do you see for the community as a whole, as well as Python, within Microsoft itself?

Dan: Wow there is so much happening with the Python community, it’s hard to know where to start. On one side we’re seeing Python being used by a huge wave of students and beginner developers across the world as their first programming language. As we go to schools and talk to students, we’re finding it’s increasingly important that we take time to keep our products simple and explain the basics (e.g. with our Python for Beginners video series). It’s important for new developers that Python stay simple and fun to use.

At the same time, usage of Python in the enterprise is growing dramatically, and this brings in a totally different set of considerations like maintainability, security, and compliance. As part of that we’re seeing increased adoption of typing to help reduce defects in large code bases, and especially recently with the migration from Python 2 to Python 3. When contributing back, the needs of large companies with hard deadlines can sometimes conflict with the needs of volunteer-led projects. We hope to continue working with the PSF and the community to bridge these gaps and to bring in new opportunities for collaboration—while retaining the ideals and freedoms that made Python what it is.

PSF: We’re thrilled that Microsoft has stepped forward again this year to make such a big investment in Python and its community. What would you like attendees to take away from your presence at PyCon?

Dan: We are invested in Python for the long term, and we want to help the Python community grow as more people learn that they too can build their own software. To help achieve that goal, we have built out great support for Python in Visual Studio Code and Python in Azure.

To learn more check out all of our workshops, labs, and demos on our PyCon 2020 Content Board and come talk to us on discord about how we can help you achieve great things with Python!