It was raining when the idea first came to me. Deep within the disappointingly well-lit halls of my local coworking spot, I sat in a meditative state as I contemplated the problem of sharing knowledge among the Web Productions team. As my mind drifted in and out of various realities, I came upon a world in which the only television show was the Price is Right. Taking inspiration from the wondrous paradise that this world was, I decided the proper solution was to create a monthly event: Lightning Talk Bonus Round!
Essentially, once a month the Web Productions team gets together to share short 5-15 minute talks on any subject we desire, from programming languages to design principles to mycology. We’re still working out the format and technical details, so there are no recordings available… yet. In the future, we hope to record the event and open it up to the community.
The first Lightning Talk Bonus Round was on June 3rd, 2013. There is a wiki page with links to the notes and details about each of the talks.
Craig Cook – Design Principles
Craig Cook gave a shortened version of a longer talk focused on the basics of Design Principles. He discussed controlling the balance between elements on a page to indicate which elements are more important than others. He also discussed using proximity, repetition, and contrast to help visually distinguish elements and establish the hierarchy of important on a page through visual cues. You can check out his slides on GitHub.
Giorgos Logiotatidis – Django Anonymizer
Next, Giorgos showed us Django Anonymizer, which is a Django app to help you anonymize existing data in the database. As opposed to other methods, such as maintaining fixtures or generating random data, with Django Anonymizer you’d start with a copy of your production data and configure the app to anonymize it, leaving you with data that is anonymous but still looks similar to the data you’d see in production.
This is especially useful in situations where production data may end up with interesting relationships between data that are hard to replicate when generating random data from the start. The Django Anonymizer project is available on PyPI. You can also see Giorgos’s notes in a gist.
Paul McLanahan – virtualenvwrapper and hub
Lastly, Paul talked about two tools that he finds useful during day-to-day development: virtualenvwrapper and hub. virtualenvwrapper is a set of extensions to virtualenv, which creates isolated Python environments for projects that need specific versions of Python or other libraries. The extensions come in the form of commands that help you quickly create, activate, and delete virtual environments. There are also hooks that let you execute certain commands when environments are created, activated, or deleted.
hub is a command-line wrapper for git that has extra commands tailored for working with GitHub. You can clone a repository using just a username and repository name, automatically create a fork on your GitHub account, or even create a pull request for a branch, all directly from the command prompt.
As I gaze over the majestic glory that is the aftermath of Lightning Talk Bonus Round, I realize that we have only just started. My work shall continue, on the first Monday of each month at 10 AM Pacific, in the hopes that someday we will be able to avoid all this knowledge sharing and pool together in a mindspace where thoughts mingle like so many fish in an ocean of web development.
Until then, we shall have to do what we can in meatspace. See you next month!