Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chris Angelico: 2019 Q2 Community Service Award Winner

The Python language is used around the world, and therefore so much surrounding it happens online. Python users turn to wikis, mailing lists, and forums to get their questions answered and concerns addressed. Python core developers use mailing lists to decide on critical additions and timelines. All this requires trusted and experienced contributors and administrators to ensure these wikis and mailing lists are focused on the Python language. Chris Angelico is one of these individuals and for this work, the PSF is pleased to present him with the Q2 2019 Community Service Award:
RESOLVED, that the Python Software Foundation award the Q2 2019 Community Service Award to Chris Angelico for his work towards fostering the online Python community by helping maintain the pydotorg-www mailing list, helping community members get edit access to the public-facing Python wiki, and also for being an active contributor to python-ideas mailing list and the python-dev mailing list.
Chris had a very noble reason to start programming: his older brother was doing it so he had to follow suit! This, along with getting into the family business of importing and exporting educational materials, led to a lifelong love of learning and technology. By the 1990’s Chris was working as a developer and first used Python when he needed to embed a scripting language in a C++ project. “Python offered a simple, clean, boilerplate-free scripting language that still had all the power that I needed for that initial project,” he says. Though the project ended up going in a different direction, Chris was already hanging out on Python mailing lists and was there to stay.

Since 2012, Chris has been an active contributor to the python-dev and python-ideas mailing lists, which are a large part of how the Python language gets developed. python-dev is used by core developers to discuss release dates and plans that could involve breaking changes to Python. On python-ideas, topics surround proposals that haven't matured enough to discuss on python-dev, and contributors can either reject ideas or help to refine them until they can be seriously proposed. “Both lists have a lot of incredibly smart people, but also very opinionated people, so it's pretty awesome to hang out and discuss,” says Chris. “They are significant parts of the funnel that brings proposals to fruition. Many changes start out with a discussion on python-ideas, then perhaps a PEP [Python Enhancement Proposal] is written, and it's discussed at length before migrating to python-dev for detailed discussion, and then finally code gets written and merged in.”

“Over the years I've known him, he's helped many people with technical questions.” recalls fellow python-ideas contributor Steve D’Aprano, “he's also been granted write permissions for the PEP repo, so Chris is the guy to go to for technical help with writing PEPs and pushing them into the repo.”

In 2015, a dominant topic on python-ideas was the f-string, a briefer string format than was previously available. Those against it said it was not Pythonic, and those for it said it was more readable than existing options. “The discussion went back and forth on that one, with many people supporting it intensely, and many others fighting just as intensely against it,” recalls Chris. F-strings were added to the Python core library in version 3.6, and you can read the discussion on python-ideas here.

A user-maintained repository of all things Python, the Python Wiki holds everything from user guides to advanced topics in the Python ecosystem. Since 2012 Chris has been an administrator, making sure contributors are actual humans with honest intent. “If it weren't for Chris I doubt the wiki would be anywhere near as popular as it is,” notes Steve Holden, PSF Director (2004-2013) and creator of the Community Service Award. “His efforts on python-dev help to keep Python moving forward and I'm happy that Chris' efforts for the community are being publicly recognised in this way.” More on how to become a contributor to the Python wiki can be found here.

Chris can even thank his work on Python lists for his current job teaching Python and JavaScript to adult learners at Thinkful. “The company head-hunted me based on the mailing list posts they saw.” Chris recalls, “So if you, too, enjoy coding and talking about code, hang out, you never know who'll notice you!”

In his free time, he can be found playing and modding video games. He’s a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, which he frequently uses as an avatar.