Python For Humans


  • Kenneth Reitz (
  • Works for Readability
  • Works on the Github Reflog
  • Used to be part of the Changelog
  • Authored Requests, Tablib, Legit, OSX-GCC_installer, Clint, Evnoy, Httpbin
  • Makes software for humans


  • What people like about Python
    • Simplicity
    • Speed to develop
    • Pypy
  • import this

  • The Zen of Python, our manifesto

  • Beautiful is better than ugly
    • Syntax
  • Explicit is better than implicit
    • Compared to Ruby
  • If the implemenatation is hard to explain, it’s a bad idea
    • Unless you’re pypy
  • This talk will focus on there should only be one obvious way to do it.

Messing Around

  • Using Github API

  • Show’s Ruby code, not beautiful but straightforward

  • When trying it in Python we get confused about what library to use
    • Python 3 helps this naming issue
  • Shows code using urllib2
    • Too many actions to just use basic auth
    • And there’s more!
    • Github API uses 404 instead of 401, need to write our own BasicAuthHandler
    • Need to force it to send basic auth, took 3 hours
  • This would prevent people from using Python.


  • Unclear on what module to use
  • “HTTP should be simple as the print statement”


  • We need pragmatic, elegant tools.


  • Has methods
  • Very simple
  • Urrllib2 is very complex, and therefore toxic


  • For humans
  • Simple solution for a simple problem

Litmus Test

  • You should not have to refer to the docs everytime you want to do something simple
  • API is the most important thing
  • Handle the 95% case elegantly


  • Requests was very simple at first, but it resonated with people
  • Grew to handle more stuff
  • 17th most watched project on Github


  • Powerful, effective, second worst API
  • Docs lacking
  • Follows C API
  • Mostly docs that are lacking

Proposed Solution

  • Envoy
  • Mostly the same API as Requests
  • Pipe, read stdout, etc.
  • Get it done quickly and effectively

File and System Ops

  • Surveyed dev ops
  • Shutil, sys, etc. are confusing
  • Limits adoption by dev ops guys

Install Python

  • Surveying room on installation methods on OSX
  • Many chosen
  • “What happened to one obvious way to do it?”


  • etree is terrible
  • lxml is awesome
  • We need to adopt a better standard

Packaging and Dependencies

  • pip or easy_install

  • setuptools?

  • Distribute
    • How is it better than setuptools?
  • We need simple instructions on how to install, and release packages


  • Some good 3rd parties
  • Stdlib not good enough


  • It’s a simple problem
    • Room erupts in “No it’s not!”
  • Should be easy


  • Unittests
  • Didn’t get the downside

Installing Dependencies

  • Asked room about difficulties
  • Almost everyone had difficulties

Hitchiker’s Guide to Python


  • Teach the best practices

  • “There should be one– and preferably only one –obvious way to do it”

  • Brief overview
    • Idioms
    • Freezing Code
    • Installing code
  • Up for debate, collaboration

  • Aimed to be a reference guide, and to lower the barrier of entry


  • Simplify APIs
  • Document Best Practices