One of the most exciting developments over the past couple of years in terms of technology on the RTE.ie website has been the switch from plain old static HTML files to dynamically generated content.
If you find yourself re-reading my last sentence and wondering what exactly has changed from an end user perspective, than that means that we have done a good job. As a valued user of the RTÉ.ie website you probably don’t really need to be aware of how the site is built, and any changes to the backend should be seamless because the internet is 24/7 * 365 – and any interruptions to service are bad!
But achieving technical changes in a seamless and efficient manner is not trivial and requires a lot of effort and planning. The core web programming framework used by RTÉ to help achieve a seamless transition to dynamic content is an open source system called Django which is written in a language called Python. We first identified Django and Python as tools for our front end facing web development back in 2008.
After a few prototypes it quickly won us over due to its ease of use and its philosophy of keeping things simple which results in syntax that is easy to read, write and maintain.
PyCon Ireland is the largest annual gathering of the Irish Python community and normally takes place over two days every October. This year RTÉ Digital were conference sponsors and I had the honour of being able to do a presentation on RTÉ.ie’s dynamic infrastructure, where attendees had a rare opportunity to look ‘under the hood’ at the full stack we use for the RTÉ.ie website.
The Python community has a well deserved reputation for being a friendly bunch and the sold out conference’s attendees came from all corners of the world to share ideas and help solve problems. Talks at the conference included Keynotes by Alex Bradbury from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Sean Blanchfield, CTO of Demonware and talks by representatives from some big Python using companies including, but not limited to, Facebook; Mozilla and Redhat.
Will I go next year? Definitely.
If you’re interested – here is a link to my slides!
John G. Moylan <firstname.lastname@example.org>