On Wednesday March 23rd, our lab hosted the first in a series of workshops introducing and exploring the power and ease of the Python programming language. Organized by Professor Derek Ruths and Mathieu Perreault, the workshop attracted more than 80 attendees, most of them students from McGill University.
The purpose of this first Python workshop was to introduce attendees to the simplicity of working with the language. Professor Ruths started the session by talking about some of the reasons people are choosing Python over other languages: easiness in learning the language, the amazing power it has under the hood and the speed with which one can go from idea to prototype. He then introduced the containers that are built in to the language (list, dict, set, tuple) and presented ways that code can be made simpler and more readable using standard methods on these containers.
Mathieu Perreault then built, in front of the audience, an application that interfaced with the Twitter API. This allowed him to introduce two powerful modules that are bundled with Python: urllib and json. Attendees were guided through the steps of working with a web API (from reading the documentation to making a GET request) and shown how Python makes it possible to go from an idea to a working Twitter program in less than 30 minutes.
There are plans to organize another workshop later this year once the fall semester is underway. Materials from this last event can be found on the webpage for the workshop.