Simon Willison’s Weblog


What I’m excited about, post-conference edition

22nd September 2006

Wow, I’ve had a really busy month. I’ve attended (and spoken at) BarCamp London, Media in Transition, d.Construct, RailsConf Europe, Euro Foo and EuroOSCON. All were excellent, and each one nicely complemented the others. I’m exhausted. I think my brain is full.

My favourite question to ask new people I meet at conferences is “what are you excited about?”. It’s better than “what do you do?” (their job might not be as exciting as what they do in their spare time) and often gets a really interesting reply. People often ask me the same back, so here are three things that have been catching my attention recently.

  • OpenID. It’s criminal that so few people are playing with this. I gave talks about it at both BarCamp and Euro Foo—it’s decentralised single sign-on that works, and it’s trivial to implement thanks to really solid libraries for most programming languages. There’s also a $5,000 bounty to help spur adoption. I’ll be writing a lot more about this in the future.

  • Virtualization. This was a common thread at several conferences, and the recent popularity of Parallels for browser testing barely scratches the surface. Virtual servers have a bunch of advantages over physical servers: you can clone them instantly, you can migrate them between machines (while they are still running if you’re using Xen) and Amazon’s EC2 offers utility computing on an enormous scale.

  • Dynamic languages on virtual machines. IronPython 1.0 is out, Sun have hired the JRuby guys. It looks like dynamic languages are finally being taken seriously as useful and powerful alternatives to C# and Java. Programmers on those VMs get more productive languages, while users of those languages gain access to enormous existing class libraries, not to mention the promise of significant performance boosts.

Finally, since I’ve blogged the last two releases of Python I can’t resist saying a few things about the new Python 2.5. It’s all good, but the stuff that really stands out is the addition of sqlite3, ElementTree and ctypes to the standard library. Batteries included!

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