The Python Software Foundation (PSF) has been the driving force behind the Python project since 2001. In addition to managing the free programming language license, the NGO is responsible for supporting the growth of the Python community – a vast global network comprising over 10.1 million developers, many of whom contribute to the development of the language. The fact remains that this organization, based on an increased dependence on the work of part-time volunteers, can slow down language development. “It’s something we have learned to come to terms with,” admits Ewa Jodlowska, who left her post as executive director of the PSF in early December.
However, “it’s not a problem, it’s just that it takes a lot longer to do anything because getting community consensus takes longer.” “In Python and in many open-source communities, decisions don’t come from the top down – they come from making sure the community is involved in the discussion.” And to remember that the community has always been at the heart of the Python programming language. Only a handful of developers work full-time on the core of the programming language, and most contributions to the language come from an army of volunteers.
To mobilize this army, it takes significant outreach and a strong, collaborative community dedicated to advancing the programming language. “Putting the outreach structure in place and developing this community globally has been amazing and probably my favorite part of our job,” says Ewa Jodlowska. “If it wasn’t for this awareness and if we hadn’t taken the time to ensure that people all over the world could have the funds to learn Python and all that good stuff, it wouldn’t be the language. number one it is today. “
A delicate period
Ewa Jodlowska has spent over a decade at the PSF, which she led from 2019. Much of her tenure in her leadership role has been spent navigating the uncertain waters of the pandemic. Two years of global uncertainty inevitably created setbacks for the PSF and reshuffled some of its ambitions – most notably with the cancellation of PyCon in 2020, which prompted the PSF to look for new ways to fund Python by being less dependent on it. ‘event.
“We probably lost about $ 600,000 in expected income, which set back many of the goals that the FSP had set for the year,” recalls the leader.
Even so, PSF managed to keep their heads above water during this complicated period, still being able to hire full-time developers in 2021 – Director-in-Residence Łukasz Langa was hired in July 2021, Shamika Mohanan having taken up her duties as packaging project manager the following month. “When you plan to hire a full-time core dev, you know it’s going to require a significant investment. But we were able to do it anyway. Many sponsors have come together to provide us with grants so that we can fill these gaps. gaps and achieve our goals. “
Take better account of user expectations
Corporate sponsorship remains important to Python. Microsoft, for example, is propelling the efforts to significantly accelerate the programming language, led by Guido van Rossum and Mark Shannon, while it is thanks to Google that the PSF has been able to finance the role of developer in residence that it now occupies. Łukasz Langa. But companies will always have business interests in the background. As Van Rossum is no longer the head of the Python project, it will be up to the Python Steering Council to maintain the stewardship of the programming language and to ensure that changes to the language serve the entire developer community.
For Ewa Jodlowska, this is a major challenge for the governance of the Python project in the future. “There still needs to be some form of collaboration and checking, understanding transparency to ensure that user use cases are considered when changes are made by these teams, which in my opinion. opinion, is something the Governing Council is going to have to deal with very soon. ”
The PSF is currently investigating how it can better understand the needs of its users and contribute to the development of the Python programming language accordingly. Diversity and inclusion is another topic Jodlowska hopes the PSF will champion in the future. “This is one of the things that I hope kernel development spends a lot more time in the future – not just R&D stuff, but also making sure that we can diversify the maintainers and developers of the core. core.”
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