Monthly Archives: April 2009

Django: So Easy, a Journalist Can Use It FTW!

The St Petersburg Tribune just won a Pulitzer for, a site it created in 2007 for fact checking the 2008 presidential election campaign.  What’s most notable for me is that it was developed quickly, by a small team and, Matt Waite, the lead developer was a former reporter who hadn’t done any real programming before they built the site with Django.

I discovered Django, a python web framework, shortly after its first public release in the summer of 2005.  I’d been wanting an excuse to learn a little Python, and had been looking for a web framework to help get me past some of the fussy parts of starting a new web app.  Ruby On Rails was getting a lot of attention at the time, but looking at Ruby gave me bad Perl flashbacks.  Since then I’ve been keeping track of the progress of the project, and I have a series of half finished learning projects I’ve undertaken.

I’m now at the point where I feel semiproductive with it.  It takes me a little while to get going, and I don’t generally get all that far before I’m interrupted, but I get to the point where I remember enough Django and Python that I don’t have to look things up for every line I type.

The first “amateur” Django site I’d seen was called Lost Theories (currently off-line).  It was created by as a personal project by Jeff Croft, one of the web designers at the Lawrence World Tribune, the newspaper that birthed Django.  It was a simple but useful site for sharing theories about the TV show Lost.  A little looking at the source code made it clear that the designer had figured out how to do it himself, without getting a lot of help from any developer friends, which I thought was awesome.

Given the panic in print journalism circles, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up getting a lot of mainstream attention, provided they can take a deep breath and stop their Twitter freak-out long enough to notice the implications.

(via Can I Has Django)