RedSnakePhilly 2012: a collaborative conference between the competing languages Python and Ruby

Like the fan bases of sports teams, the communities that follow competing technologies can get in each other’s faces. There’s examples that stretch to the origins of personal computing: Apple vs. Microsoft, Firefox vs. Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash vs. HTML5. Fire any of those into your search pane for a history. What: RedSnakePhilly 2012 When: […]

Like the fan bases of sports teams, the communities that follow competing technologies can get in each other’s faces.

There’s examples that stretch to the origins of personal computing: Apple vs. Microsoft, Firefox vs. Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash vs. HTML5. Fire any of those into your search pane for a history.

What: RedSnakePhilly 2012
When: February 21st , Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Liberty Two (50 South 16th St) on the 32nd floor
How: Follow @redsnakephilly for details on how to get a ticket.

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The same is often true of competing programming languages and frameworks, like Python and Ruby.

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An event that came together last year took the rivalry head on: RedSnakePhilly. It’s an annual conference of alternating lightning presentations that show off the two languages, together, in one room. This playoff season, try that with your friends that identify as Steelers fans.

This year’s upcoming February 21st event is free, and has limited seating. The organizers say to follow @redsnakephilly on Twitter for details on how to secure a seat.

Mat Schaffer, one of RedSnake’s organizers from the “red” camp of Ruby fans, compares the rivalry between Python and Ruby enthusiasts to the political spectrum. “We’re like the democrats and republicans of dynamic languages,” he says.

Schaffer knows the scene well. He’s a lead organizer at Philly.RB, a local Ruby user group, and he co-owns a Ruby consulting business called Mashion. We covered his work last April.

Unlike other programming-oriented user group meetups and conferences, Schaffer says that RedSnake is more technically focused. One person from each camp presents a 10-minute case study, getting specific with the technological implementation. The outcome usually lends itself to a familiar question for attendees: ‘should I be using Python or Ruby?’

Maybe it’s the technology press that is responsible for unfairly amplifying the competition between technologies.

Not to be outdone, Tom Panzarella, the RedSnake coordinator who represents the snakes (Python’s accepted mascot) — and who organizes Philly PUG (Python Users Group) and founded Love Park Robotics — says that it’s less competitive than is often publicized.

“What I’ve found amongst the larger Philadelphia technical groups is that there’s enough gray hair in the room that people know you can pick one tool for this, one tool for that,” he says.

At the end of the day, making that decision is “a matter of personal taste,” Panzarella says.

We’ll be checking the Daily News headlines for fisticuffs following the event.

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