Mark Hammond & David Ascher, ActiveState, Python world domination

David Ascher dascher at
Thu Feb 3 14:28:33 EST 2000

For those of you who weren't at the 8th International Python Conference, I'd
like to share a bit of news.  As the press release below explains, Mark
Hammond and I have been hired by ActiveState to work on Python-related
projects, and ActiveState has joined the Python Consortium.  Today is my
first day in my new job, so it seems fitting to write a little about what it
will entail and why I took this job.

I discovered Python about five years ago.  Since then, I've used Python in
my day-job as a scientist, but, as most of you know, it's hard to resist the
pull, and over the years I put more and more time into Python-related
things, such as co-authoring Learning Python with Mark Lutz, developing
training courses for Python and JPython, doing consulting gigs, and
otherwise contributing to the Python effort (although the word 'effort'
sounds so, well, effortful!).

After a long period of rumination, I decided that I was really having too
much fun doing Python things, so a change in career was called for.  At
about the same time, Dick Hardt approached me about the possibility of a job
at ActiveState, which I knew only as a company that did Perl on Windows.
Clearly, Dick isn't silly enough to think that I would be useful in that
particular product line =).

So, why did I decide to take that particular job rather than other
Python-based jobs (yes, they are out there!)?  There are at least four

1) I expect to have a lot of fun doing Python-related things full-time.
Those of you who are in that position tell me it's fun, and I believe it.  I
also expect to enjoy discovering Vancouver and Canada, which is an
intriguing notion to me given my Franco-American background.

2) ActiveState's involvement in Python is good news for the Python world.
There are several aspects to that, from the straightforward, such as
ActiveState's joining the Python Consortium, to the more strategic.
ActiveState is a successful company which has credibility among large
corporations; that we as a company are investing in Python for the long term
is a significant (IMO) boost to Python's credibility among some
decision-makers.  I hope that it makes the job of Python advocates
everywhere somewhat easier.

3) We have exciting plans for Python-related tools and services.
ActiveState is in the business of helping people be more productive with
their programming environments, and we have several projects in mind which,
if we do our job right, will make Python users happier and more productive.
While I can't discuss many of the specifics, I can say that our plans
include Windows and non-Windows platforms, and several open source projects.

4) ActiveState is a growing company, and it's going to be fun and
challenging to help build it up.  One of the challenges there will be to
leverage the multi-language and multi-platform expertise in the company.  So
far, the Perl folks and the Python folks are getting along just great.

Some have asked me in email what this means for my current public Python
projects, particularly Snow, PyOpenGL and Python training.

- Snow is on hold indefinitely.  I've received several encouraging comments
about the quality of the output, and expressions of frustration about the
installation process.  The former I am proud of, the latter I acknowledge --
Snow was a good experiment in design, and quite a learning experience. As
such it needs to be redone from the ground up before it can be foisted on
unsuspecting souls, and I'm not going to have the time needed to do so in
the foreseeable future.  If someone wants to take over the task of building
a very high quality plotting framework in Python, let me know and I'll share
my experience on the topic.  (Step 1: find three spare months; ...)  Data
representation is still a topic that I care about deeply, so I might "thaw"
Snow in the future.

- PyOpenGL is ongoing and alive, although I would like to publically
acknowledge that Randall Hopper has been doing most of the maintenance work
in the last few months, and his help is greatly appreciated.  I'm trying to
convince him to take that project over, as his daily use of the tool makes
him a better choice as project lead.  Regardless, PyOpenGL will continue.

- I am no longer offering Python/JPython training, but I would like to
encourage budding trainers out there -- there are fun opportunities
available for anyone who'se willing to stand up and teach Python
programming.  Python's clean design really does make the teacher's task much

Finally, I'll naturally continue to be involved in other projects, such as
NumPy, as a participant of the Open Source development process.

What does this mean for Mark Hammond, PyWin32, Pythonwin, etc?  Well, I
won't presume to speak for Mark, so I'll just let him write his own thoughts
on the topic.

Cheers, and thanks to everyone involved for making Python such a great

--David Ascher

The press release follows:


Vancouver, January 26th, 2000.

ActiveState announced today, at the 8th International Python Conference,
Arlington, Virginia, that it will support Python, as it moves into
additional open source scripting tools. ActiveState has joined the Python
Consortium as part of its commitment to support and promote Python.

"I'm very happy that ActiveState has joined the consortium and I'm looking
forward to working with them on future Python developments," said Guido van
Rossum, Creator of Python.

This new ActiveState initiative has seen two prominent Python Developers
join the ActiveState team. David Ascher, active Python contributor,
co-author of the O'Reilly publication "Learning Python" and accomplished
Python Consultant and Trainer and Mark Hammond, co-author of Python COM
support, current maintainer and release manager for all Python for Windows
extensions and co-author of "Python Programming on Win32".

David will relocate shortly to ActiveState headquarters in Vancouver from
his current San Francisco base, while Mark will continue to be based in
Melbourne, Australia.

"I'm thrilled that, after 5 years of involvement, I'll be able to focus
full time on Python," said David. "ActiveState's involvement in Python is
welcome. Python keeps growing and a corporation can devote significant
resources to tackling development in areas that may not be high on the
minds of individual contributors."

"We have big plans for our contribution to the Python effort," continued
Mark. "ActiveState believes that Python has a very bright future and we are
committed to providing the same support and services to Python users as are
currently offered to the Perl Community."

"Out of all things that could happen to Python in 2000, this would top my
list," said Paul Everitt, CEO Digital Creations and creators of Zope.
"While ActiveState's renown makes this a legitimizer for Python, their
expertise fills in the last missing piece for the Python story."

Dick Hardt, ActiveState CEO, attending the conference commented, "The
addition of Python skills at ActiveState allows us to focus on a range of
scripting solutions, providing a significant step in the company's future

For further information please contact DickH at

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