Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sheila Miguez and Will Kahn-Greene and their love for the Python Community: Community Service Award Quarter 3 2016 Winners

There are two elements which make Open Source function:
  1. Technology
  2. An active community.
The primary need for a successful community is a good contributor base. The contributors are our real heroes, who work persistently, on many (if not most) occasions without any financial benefits, just for the love of the community. The Python Community is blessed with many such heroes. The PSF's quarterly Community Service Award honors these heroes for their notable contributions and dedication to the Python ecosystem.

The PSF is delighted to give the 2016 Third Quarter Community Service Award to Sheila Miguez and Will Kahn-Greene:
Sheila Miguez and William Kahn-Greene for their monumental work in creating and supporting PyVideo over the years.

Community Service Award for 3rd Quarter

Will Kahn-Greene
Taken by Erik Rose, June 2016
The PSF funds a variety of conferences and workshops throughout the year worldwide to educate people about Python. But, not everyone can attend all of these events. Two people, Sheila Miguez and Will Kahn-Greene wanted to resolve this problem for the Pythonistas. Will came up with a brilliant idea of PyVideo and Sheila later joined the mission. PyVideo works as the warehouse of videos from Python conferences, local user groups, screencasts, and tutorials.

The Dawn of PyVideo

Back in 2010, Will started a Python video site using the Miro Community video-sharing platform. PSF encouraged his work with an $1800 grant the following year. As Will recalls, "I was thinking there were a bunch of Python conferences putting out video, but they were hosting the videos in different places. Search engines weren't really finding it. It was hard to find things even if you knew where to look." He started with Miro Community, and later wrote a whole new codebase for generating the data and another codebase for the front end of the website.
With these tools he started "This new infrastructure let me build a site closer to what I was envisioning."

When Sheila joined the project she contributed both to its technology and by helping the community find Python videos easier. Originally, she intended to only work on the codebase, but found herself dedicating a lot of time to adding content to the site.

What is PyVideo?
PyVideo is a repository that indexes and links to thousands of Python videos. It also provides a website where people can browse the collection, which is more than 5000 Python videos and growing. The goals for PyVideo are:

  1.  Help people get to Python presentations easier and faster
  2.  Focus on education
  3.  Data collection and categorization.
  4.  Aim to give people an easy, enjoyable experience contributing to open source on PyVideo's GitHub repo

The Community Response

The Python community has welcomed Will and Sheila's noble endeavor enthusiastically. Pythonistas around the world never have to miss another recorded talk or tutorial. Sheila and Will worked relentlessly to give shape to their mammoth task. When I asked Will about the community’s response, he said, "Many learned Python by watching videos they found on Many had ideas for different things we could do with the site and other related projects. I talked with some folks who later contributed fixes and corrections to the data."

Will and Sheila worked on only in their spare time, but it has became a major catalyst in the growth of the Python community worldwide. According to Will, has additional, under publicized benefits:

  • PyVideo is a primary source to survey diversity trends among Python conference speakers around the globe.
  • Since its videos are solely Python, it is easily searchable and provides more helpful results than other search engines.
  • It offers a preview of conferences: By watching past talks people can choose if they want to go.

PyVideo : The End?

With a blog post Will and Sheila announced the end of "I'm pretty tired of working on pyvideo and I haven't had the time or energy to do much on it in a while," Will wrote.

Though they were shutting down the site, they never wanted to lose or waste the valuable data. Will says, "In February 2016 or so, Sheila and I talked about the state of things and I just felt bad about everything. So we decided to focus on extracting the data from PyVideo and make sure that even if the site didn't live on, the data did. We wrote a bunch of tools and
infrastructure for a community of people to add to, improve and otherwise work on the data. We figured someone could take the data and build a static site around it." Will did a blog post about the status of the data of, and invited new maintainers to replace the site.

The end of broke the hearts of many Pythonistas, including Paul Logston. Paul’s mornings used to begin by watching a talk on the site, and he couldn't renounce his morning entertainment.  He resolved to replace To begin, he wrote his project called "PyTube" for storing videos. Though initially his interest was personal, its educational outreach aspect drove him to finish and publicize the project. Sheila remembers noticing Paul for the first time when she noticed his fork of the pyvideo data repository. She was excited to see that he'd already built a static site generator based on PyVideo data. She read Paul’s development philosophy and felt he was the right person to carry on the mission.

In May 2016, at PyCon US,  there was a lightning talk on PyVideo and its situation. Paul met some fellow PyVideo followers who, just like him, did not want to lose the site. They decided to work on it during the Sprints. Though the structure of the website was ready, there were a lot of things that needed to be done like data gathering, curating data, and the design of the website. So, the contributors divided the works between them.

Both Sheila and Will were committed to PyVideo's continued benefit for the community, while passing PyVideo to new hands. They were satisfied by Paul's work and transferred the domain to his control. Paul's PyTube code became the replacement of on August 13, 2016.

Emergence of the Successor : The Present Status of PyVideo

Now the project has 30 contributors, with Paul serving as project lead. These contributors have kept the mission alive. Though PyVideo's aim is still the same, there is a difference in its technology. The old Django app is replaced with a static site generated with Pelican, and it now has a separate repository for data in JSON files. The team's current work emphasizes making the project hassle-free to maintain.

Listen to Paul talking about PyVideo and its future on Talk Python to Me.

The Wings to Fly

Every community needs someone with a vision for its future. Will and Sheila had showed us a path to grow and help the community. It is now our responsibility to take the new PyVideo further. Paul describes its purpose beautifully: "PyVideo's deeper 'why' is the desire to make educating oneself as easy, affordable, and available as possible." Contributors: please come and join the project, give a hand to Paul and the team to help move this great endeavor forward.