Everything I know about Python...

Learn to Write Pythonic Code!

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How Python Makes Working With Data More Difficult in the Long Run

Before we begin, let's be clear on terminology. When I refer to "working with data" in the context of software development I could mean one of two things:

  1. Interactively working with data, with perhaps Jupyter (née IPython) or the live interpreter
  2. Writing, testing, reading, reviewing and maintaining programs that primarily manipulate data

In short: Python is awesome for interactive data analysis but terrible for writing long-lived programs dealing with complicated data structures.

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Python, sandman2, and Open Data

sandman2 (and its predecessor, sandman) has been far and away my most successful open source project. I fully attribute this to its genuine usefulness. It is most often used as a command line tool, through which you provide the connection details of a legacy database and run it, and in return it starts both a RESTful API service for your data, as well as a web-based UI that allows you to add, delete, and edit rows directly. For many (especially in the enterprise), interacting with legacy databases is a pain at best, and impossible at worst. The ability to access data via a simple REST API, then, is a godsend.

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Should Engineering Managers Code?

Note: This post also appears on the blog of my employer, Enigma (enigma.io)

Earlier this year I made a career change: I decided to stop being an Individual Contributor (or "IC", i.e. someone who codes) and became the Engineering Manager of the team I was a member of. I call it a "career change" because it's important to recognize the move for what it is. All too often, such a change is viewed as the logical progression of an engineer's career. That's a shame.

It's a shame because being an engineer trains you to be a people manager about as well as it trains you to be a circus juggler. There are almost no transferable skills, save the domain knowledge you've acquired that will ostensibly help in managing projects. But (as every engineer will tell you), being a great engineer does not mean you'll be even a passable manager. Some companies (like my own) realize this and create parallel career paths for engineers that want to write code forever without mortgaging their advancement opportunities. Sadly, most companies are not so forward thinking.

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