Microsoft has been a big supporter of the Python language through sponsored development of Python Tools for Visual Studio, Jupyter, CPython, Azure Machine Learning and organizations such as the PSF and NumFocus. This year the PSF is proud to have Microsoft as our Keystone Sponsor for PyCon 2018 in Cleveland. We also spoke with them to find out more about their recent efforts in the Python community, and here’s what they had to share:
Q: The Microsoft Python extension for Visual Studio code is now available. We’d be interested in hearing about some of the linting improvements that were made in this release.
Microsoft: That's right, we are excited about the Microsoft Python extension! The extension was originally developed by Don Jayamanne who has now joined Microsoft, and we started publishing the extension as Microsoft in November of 2017. We release a new version every month, and it is currently the most popular extension for VS Code. We have been focused on improving the core Python development experience: linting, IntelliSense, debugging, and support for various environments (virtualenv, pipenv, pyenv, conda). Linting specifically is important to Python developers, with Python being a dynamic language we often depend on linters to give feedback to catch coding errors without having to hit them later at runtime. PyLint is enabled by default in the extension because it has a comprehensive set of rules, and we also support many linters used by Python developers: flake8, mypy, pydocstyle, pep8, prospector and pylama.
One of the improvements we made early was to define a default set of linting rules that help developers catch errors, without the distraction of too many optional warnings about coding convention. Developers can enable the coding convention rules or otherwise customize rulesets to match their development style by adding a .pylintrc file to their workplace. We are continuing to make linting improvements in the coming months.
Q: Microsoft is known for being highly invested in security. What can you tell us about adding security enhancements to Python, similar to those already in PowerShell?
Microsoft: We have an incredibly strong security culture at Microsoft with experts on everything from cloud and operating systems to CPU vulnerabilities. As we saw Python usage increasing, we had some of our scripting language specialists investigate how system administrators could integrate Python into their existing security auditing and management systems, much like we enabled for PowerShell in recent releases. One result of this is PEP 551, and while that proposal is yet to be accepted, we are maintaining source implementations against the latest Python 3.6 and 3.7 releases. For a good overview of why we believe these security transparency features are valuable for Python, see this presentation by Steve Dower, one of our engineers and CPython contributors.
Q: How does the Microsoft Software Donation Program at TechSoup work?
Microsoft: TechSoup and its international network of 65 other partner organizations help Microsoft in facilitating software donations for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs in 236 countries and territories. This includes quickly and reliably verifying an organization's nonprofit status. Serving as a dynamic bridge between civil society and corporate donor partners like Microsoft, TechSoup provides transformative technology products, knowledge, and services that enable people to work together toward a more equitable world. To find out more, please visit their site here.
Q: What does the future of Python look like from Microsoft’s vantage point? What sorts of things do you see for the community as a whole as well as Python within Microsoft itself?
Microsoft: The future is bright for Python with its broad applicability and low bar to entry. Microsoft will continue to invest in Python tooling (through Visual Studio and our free, open source and cross-platform Visual Studio Code), in better support for Python running on the Microsoft platforms, e.g. on Windows and on Azure (whether on Linux or Windows VMs), and of course Microsoft will continue to contribute to the Python community. Whether someone is using Python for scripting scenarios and automating tasks, or for web and backend development, or for Data Science and machine learning, Microsoft’s goal is to help them be successful. The real question isn’t what Microsoft thinks of the future of Python, but what the Python community sees as the future and how can Microsoft help towards that future.
Q: We’re thrilled that Microsoft has stepped forward to make such a big investment in PyCon and its community. What would you like attendees to take away from your presence at PyCon?
Microsoft: Microsoft loves Python and we are committed to be a supportive and productive member of the community. We employ more active Python Core developers than any other company, and they contribute to both Python itself as well as Microsoft's products for our Python customers. Plus, we are hiring more! If you are interested in working on our hosted Jupyter notebooks service, check out the job description and send your resume to PythonJobs@microsoft.com. There has been support for Python in the flagship Visual Studio product for some time now, and recently we added Python support in Visual Studio Code, our free, open source, and lightweight editor for macOS, Linux and Windows. We continue to improve and deepen support for Python in our Azure cloud and we are proud to say that you can already use our cloud infrastructure and services to build great apps in any language for any platform. Most of all, we would love to hear your feedback – what else can we do for the Python community? We are listening!
Again, a big thanks to Microsoft for their continued support in the Python community and Pycons specifically. Be sure to look for their booths and workshops if you are at PyCon this year.
Additionally, if you are interested in being a sponsor for PyCon in the future, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Depending on your level of sponsorship, packages include complimentary conference passes, booth space, lead retrieval scanners, speaking opportunities, and a table in the Job Fair.