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How Did You Do That? Or: How a Non-developer Snuck Python Into a Large Organization

by Michael Pedersen for EuroPython 2012

This is not an inherently technical talk! It is about doing something fun and getting away with it. It is about convincing management that what you did was awesome. It is about using unconventional technology in the most conservative of professional environments.

There is a saying that “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. This is the story of how i’ve successfully started using python to automate repetitive tasks, and as a result have increased the efficiency and the quality of our team, without having to ask for either permission or forgiveness.

To understand the context, I will touch briefly on the kind of technologies I work with (IBM mainframes, DB2 databases, legacy code like you wouldn’t believe), the industry (Banking/Financial) and the projects and work assignments I’m involved in.

I have found that python has a very specific niche within this context, and as a result I developed and released several small and simple utilities to our team, to great praise from management and co-workers. What started as an “undercover-developer” using an hour or two here and there to avoid doing the same things over and over again, has turned into an officially sanctioned way to get quick-and-dirty results.

Key technical points:

  • Not an administrator on your pc? Not a problem!
  • Hiding the implementation specifics to avoid “detection”
  • DB2 connectivity
  • Excel input/output
  • Using py2exe
  • Making CLI user interfaces for non-technical users


Do you have some questions on this talk? Leave a comment to the speaker!

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60 minutes (inc Q&A)

Tagged as

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