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16 September 2008, 09:55

Shuttleworth: Python needs to focus on future

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Mark Shuttleworth challenged the Python community to look to future trends for Python's next big opportunity. Presenting a keynote at PyCon UK 2008 in Birmingham, Shuttleworth looked at three big trends, cloud computing, transactional memory and future multicore processors and asked the Python community how they were approaching these trends.

Shuttleworth's vision for cloud computing was extensive, based around blurring the distinction between desktop applications and web applications, with a new class of native desktop application which works extensively with the cloud. He asked if Python could be the language to build these applications. Transactional memory, Shuttleworth believed, would be key in the next generation of server side applications. Transactional memory is a memory architecture where parallel processors can perform atomic operations on shared memory in a similar style to transactions in relational databases. Python would, he believed, have to adapt to this new memory architecture as it emerges. Multicore processing also provides a challenge to Python. Currently, the standard Python has a number of issues which make threading harder than it could be, and adapting to a future where applications could be running, not on today's two or four core architectures but on tomorrow's 16, 32 or 64 core architectures would require a lot of work to be done to the core of C Python.

Shuttleworth wanted to inspire the Python community, which includes himself, to look at these issues and plan forward to find the next big opportunity, noting that Python had missed a chance to in the ninties to become embedded in browsers, an opportunity that went to JavaScript which is now being pushed to the fore as the glue language of Web 2.0. As cloud computing the other trends promise to be as potentially disruptive to IT as the emergence of the web and browser, Python had a chance to be a part of that change.

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