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Nominee for 2022 Python Software Foundation Board Election

Simon Willison

  • Previous Board Service: New board member
  • Employer: Self-employed
  • Other Affiliations: Datasette open source project
  • Nominee Statement:

      Hi, I'm Simon. I've been a member of the Python community for over twenty years and an active contributor to a large number of open source projects written in Python.

      In 2004 I co-created the Django web framework. In 2017 I created Datasette, around which I have been building a larger ecosystem of Python tools for data journalism and data analytics.

      I'm currently self-employed, working on turning my Datasette open source project into a sustainable business.

      There are two areas in particular that I would like to focus on as a board member: ensuring that getting started with Python is as easy as possible for new developers, and ensuring that applications developed using Python can be easily distributed to end-users.


      • I've been blogging about Python since 2002.
      • In 2004 I helped create Django, while working at the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper.
      • I've presented talks and tutorials at dozens of Python conferences around the world, including EuroPython, PyCon North America and DjangoCon.
      • In 2010 I co-founded a startup, Lanyrd, which used Python and Django to provide a service for discovering and making the most out of conferences. We were acqired by Eventbrite in 2013.
      • I have 172 projects on PyPI.
      • In 2017 I created Datasette, "an open source multi-tool for exploring and publishing data". Datasette is written in Python and supports plugins, of which there are now 90. Each plugin is a package on PyPI.
      • In 2018 I released sqlite-utils, a Python library and CLI tool for manipulating SQLite databases. It recently reached its 100th release.
      • I've volunteered as a mentor for Hackbright Academy in San Francisco, helping several students there graduate the program and start their careers as Python developers.

      My goals as a board member

      I believe there are problems facing the Python community that require dedicated resources beyond volunteer labour. I'd like the PSF to invest funding in the following areas in particular:

      • Improve Python onboarding. In coaching new developers I've found that the initial steps to getting started with a Python development environment can be a difficult hurdle to cross. I'd like to help direct PSF resources to tackling this problem, with a goal of making the experience of starting to learn Python as smooth as possible, no matter what platform the learner is using.
      • Make Python a great platform for distributing software. In building my own application, Datasette, in Python I've seen how difficult it can be to package up a Python application so that it can be installed by end-users, who aren't ready to install Python and learn pip in order to try out a new piece of software. I've researched solutions for this for my own software using Homebrew, Docker, an Electron app and WASM/Pyodide. I'd like the PSF to invest in initiatives and documentation to make this as easy as possible, so that one of the reasons to build with Python is that distributing an application to end-users is already a solved problem.

      Where to find me