McGill Python Workshop

On Wednesday March 23rd was held the first of what is sure to be a series of Python workshops held at McGill University. Organized by Professor Derek Ruths and I of Ruths Research (, the workshop attracted more than 80 attendees, most of them students from McGill University.

The purpose of this first Python workshop was to introduce attendees to the simplicity of working with the language. Professor Ruths started the session by talking about some of the reasons people are choosing Python over other languages: easiness in learning the language, the amazing power it has under the hood and the speed with which one can go from idea to prototype. He then introduced the containers that are built in to the language (list, dict, set, tuple) and presented ways that code can be made simpler and more readable using standard methods on these containers.

I then built, in front of the audience, an application that interfaced with the Twitter API. This allowed me to introduce great modules that are offered with Python: urllib and json. Attendees were guided through the steps of working with an API (from reading the documentation to making a GET request) and shown how simple it is to get from an idea to a working Python program in less than 30 minutes.

Overall the organizers were quite pleased with the event and plan to organize more of them in the future. Materials from this last event can be found on their website (

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