From April 3rd-7th Djangonauts from around the world gathered in beautiful Florence, Italy for the 2017 DjangoCon Europe. Throughout the first three days of the conference the Odeon Cinema was filled as the Djangonauts came together to experience their common language of coding. The conference concluded with two days of interactive ‘sprint’ sessions. This in conjunction with the conference sponsored events, led to the development of an inclusive, informative, and memorable experience for all of the attendees.
The organizer of DjangoCon Europe 2017 was the non-profit Italian organization Fuzzy Brains. Fuzzy Brains was founded in 2016 with a focus on the Django platform and Python language, and a goal to support new technologies and the advancement of digital literacy. Nephila, a long time supporter of the Django community, helped the bootstrap of Fuzzy Brains -and the DjangoCon Europe 2017 organization, as a natural continuation of its contribution to the Django community.
Nephila started their adventure in the Django community with sponsoring DjangoCon Europe 2012 in Zurich, and over the years are more committed than ever to this great community with Iacopo, our Chief Technical Officer, and other members of the team presenting talks, leading workshops and holding sprints. They have also sponsored events (DjangoCon Europe and PyCon conferences, Django Girls workshops in Italy and abroad), become members of the Django Software Foundation, and organized and participated at events and meetups.
Supporting the organization of DjangoCon Europe 2017 in their local city of Florence has been very natural and significant to Nephila. It has served as an important milestone in not only their history, but in their relationship with the community.
During the first three days of the conference, the Odeon Cinema was a bustling hub of attendees with varying backgrounds and levels of experience. However, despite their differences it quickly becomes evident that the all of the participants were connected because of their common passion of Django. The 2017 conference succeeded in being one of the most diverse and inclusive Django conferences ever held, with the 365 participants spanning from 26 countries around the world. Additionally, the conference boasted an impressive 1:1 female to male speaker ratio.
An impressive thirty-three talks inspired the attendees with subjects that covered a plethora of topics including research, innovations, and the social aspects of coding. One highlight of the event was the involvement of an all female discussion panel. This panel consisted of Alicia Carr, Kriti Mehta, Federica Pasini, Azzurra Ragone, and Flavia Weisghizzi and covered a range of talking points. This panel was applauded on twitter for discussing the importance of fostering diversity in the coding community. This inclusive event brought to the forefront the importance of expanding the community of developers and bringing together a more diverse group of people. Other highly regarded talks included Mariatta Wijaya’s talk “Dial M for Mentor” and Louise Grandjonc’s discussion on the world behind the ORM. Grandjonc was met with praise on twitter by Marc tamlyn (@mjtamlyn), “Really solid ORM talk from @louisemeta. A good explanation for anyone wanting to understand why their Django queries are slow.” These talks gave audience members the opportunity to quickly hear about a wide range of topics. As a result, the broad spectrum of ideas and technology discussed captured the attention of all the coders in attendance; novice and professional alike.
Over the course of the three days, an environment of excitement was cultivated. Attendees mix and mingled with others who shared their same passion of coding over coffee and lunch breaks. These interesting discussions further connected Djangonauts and enriched the conference experience.
After the conclusion of the ‘talks’ portion of the events, the interactive portion of the conference commenced. The ‘sprints’ days allowed the attendees to improve upon their knowledge and their codes by interacting with other coders from all over the world. The venue took place in the Educatorio di Fuligno. This beautifully converted monastery boasted a number of highly functional rooms that gave everyone a place to creatively work.
The fun didn’t stop after the last speaker left the stage every night. Instead the excitement continued as with the DjangoCon Europe Party, Movie Night, and Barefoot walk. The DjangoCon Europe Party took place on Tuesday night at a German style pub in Florence called Braumeister. The success of the event was evident just by looking around the restaurant filled with djangonauts. The drinks and food kept flowing into the night as new friendships were formed and memories were made.
Wednesday’s Movie Night featured the screening of the travel documentary “Low Cost Flocks” at the Odeon Cinema. The screening was accompanied by a question and answer session with the movie’s director, Giacomo Agnetti, and the international traveller and writer, Tito Barbini.
The Barefoot Walk took place on Friday morning through the historical Florence park “Le Cascine”. This meditative walk was led by on-zon-su master Marzia Maestri and gave participants the opportunity to spend the morning discovering land, water, and themselves through the soles of the feet.
At the core of any successful event is a group of hardworking individuals. The fantastic volunteers who worked at the 2017 DjangoCon Europe were responsible for the creation of a community of enthusiasm and passion throughout the week. Fuzzy Brains contributed a number of wonderful and hardworking team members, who are at the center of the Django community. The other members of this team included Django Girls coaches, Nephila staff, members of the Italian Python Association, and other Django companies around Europe (https://2017.djangocon.eu/cast/ The link to the crew working). Additionally, students from the Lorenzo dé Medici International Institute and the Gobetti Volta High School in Florence joined the volunteer team and gained their first experience at an international technical conference.
The conference would not have been what is was if it had not been for their diligence and dedication to making the event a success. The community created was evident by the way that the volunteers interacted with the attendees and the other members of the team. Behind the welcome desk, a smiling face was always prepped and ready to assist. The volunteers took the initiative to interact with the djangonauts and form connections that both parties will remember long after the conference ends.
Overall, the DjangoCon Europe 2017 was a huge success. The conference achieved an environment based on inclusivity and diversity while efficiently educating and entertaining hundreds of attendees. It is safe to say that come next spring, DjangoCon Europe 2018 will have some large shoes to fill.
Stay up to date with the latest DjangoCon Europe news by visiting the website https://www.djangoproject.com.