Djangocon: The full stack octopus - Kat Stevens

Tags: django, djangocon

(One of the summaries of a talk at the 2015 Djangocon EU conference).

Kat Stevens is the sole web manager at her wine company. So she needs to be an octopus with many arms to do all the tasks. Django, bug fixing, sysadmin, installing, planning, etc.

When she started working there she found a 7 year old .net legacy site. She had the freedom to choose whatever she wanted and she picked Django. She had not programmed python before, so she started with small prototype projects to test everything out.

Python/Django Django is the favourite part of the stack for her. She loves that it is open source so that she could inspect the code to see exactly what it was doing. Custom template tags are great, for instance for doing currency conversion.

The site is quite big now, so she can lose track of things somewhere. If you’re the only one working on a big codebase… Another drawback of working on your own is that you don’t hear a lot about nice tools. Django debug toolbar was one of the tools that she discovered pretty late, but can’t work without now.

Nice: she only has to merge code with herself. She loves writing clean, efficient views and queries. On your own, you do everything to your preferences. For instance you have your choice of libraries and APIs.

Sometimes you don’t know a library is out there, so you re-invent the wheel. Alone, you’re not getting technical feedback.

As the sole developer, there’s no need for a complex ticketing system. Small fixes can be deployed instantly. But… testing always suffers, even though it is needed more than ever.

“Help me, stackoverflow, you’re my only hope.”

Design/UX Existing front-end experience helped enormeously. She did have to focus on mobile support, but IE8+ was fine.

The number one timesink: photoshop. It keeps crashing on her computer because she needs to have so many things open at the same time. The solution is to be extremely friendly with the Mac-using print designer.

Content and data There’s no point in building an empty website. She had to import from a legacy MSSQL db. It had to support UTF-8, Latin-1 and simplified chinese. Somehow she managed to get it working with some ODBC drivers.

For the actual detailed wine content, she missed the knowledge. So she used the django admin to let others maintain that part of the content.

Super tedious stuff Renewing domain names. Liaising with ad agencies. Talking with the bank. Sysadmin work: the horror.

One advantage: she’s the only user on those machines. That’s simple.

Closing comments Sometimes strange work crops up. Doing the email marketing for half a year because someone left the company…

She isn’t an expert in any area. There’s no time to dive into a subject. She loves django. She can get a lot done with it. Working on her own also meant she hasn’t had a proper holiday for two years…

Photo from our 2014 cycling holiday logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

Weblog feeds

Most of my website content is in my weblog. You can keep up to date by subscribing to the automatic feeds (for instance with Google reader):