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Q&A with Rocket about Python-U2 Integration

Published over 2 years ago by Elkie Holland
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There’s been a lot of noise recently about the Python-U2 Integration.  As early as this summer, Susie Siegesmund had been reported as saying:   “By adding Python capabilities to U2, not only can we have the database technology appeal to brand new partners building whole new applications, but partners can also build extensions to existing applications in Python. By integrating Python with U2 we have a very scalable, performant database option for people to use to build new applications. Also, Python is a modern programming language that is familiar to university graduates."

On Thursday 9th October 2014, I enjoyed time with Michael Byrne, Rocket MultiValue Product Evangelist and Vinnie Smith, Managing Director, R&D Rocket U2 Lab to find out more. 


ELKIE:  Why did Rocket choose Python to integrate with U2 Databases?

Python has a broad-based appeal as a development language and from an architectural standpoint, it’s good fit with our U2 databases.  There is a huge Python community and lots of packages for specific functions.  For instance, on Py/PI there are about 40,000 open source packages that you can use with Python in your own application – so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Python also has good memory management for string handling. With a smaller footprint than other languages, it’s fast with high performance. And it’s popular and easy to understand.  Our decision to use Python was made some time ago and still very relevant as Gartner just named it third in their ranking on the Gartner Programming Index for 2014!

Added to all this, people are now leaving universities with Python skills.


ELKIE:  Were any other languages under consideration?

We looked at a number of languages including PHP, Ruby-on-Rails and JavaScript to name a few.  We considered many items including licencing restrictions and redistribution.  We decided to go with Python as it is the best fit with our technology and current market.


ELKIE: How can someone learn more about Python?

There is a wealth of knowledge online for Python. Python.org has lots of resources, tutorials and documents online.  Coursera.org also has some online classes available.


ELKIE:  So for someone interested in using Python with U2, what pathway would you suggest they take?

Python is easy to learn. We’d suggest that one familiarize himself with Python and then interface with it. Since Python is easy, one can then hit the ground running very quickly and then move on to learn about how U2 works with Python.  Someone could also come to one of our MV Tech Days learn some more about the value of Python with U2. The MV TechDays are one-day worldwide training events in which Rocket talks about modernization and dives into demos.


ELKIE: Does this only work on UniData?  Will it also work on UniVerse?

Currently the beta is for Python on UniData - it will be extended to UniVerse later.  Someone on UniVerse can still take part in the UniData beta to get a headstart with learning more about how Python works with U2.  So really, the beta is also about beginning to build a community for MV Developers with Python.


ELKIE:  Can you tell me more about the beta program?

The beta was announced a couple of weeks ago, with both users of UniVerse and UniData taking part.  These beta participants are joining the Python-U2 community to receive early advanced documentation. There are also some great examples on Github of Python with MultiValue.

At this point in the beta, we’re looking for both companies and individuals - including contractors - who would like to take part.  We would also be interested in some Python Early Adopters who would want to pick up U2.   Beta participants get a beta edition of UniData with Python.

Our ideal beta candidate would be someone who has the time and desire to get their hands on it and give feedback while we’re still in development.  We love people who really want to put it through its paces and who are vocal.  The more vocal the better!


ELKIE:  Have you had any feedback already?

Yes, and one customer wants to start training their existing staff already!  I guess that’s makes it pretty positive feedback.


ELKIE:  Is this for companies only in the USA or UK and worldwide?

It’s a worldwide beta program and we can provide support across all the time zones.


ELKIE: What is expected from someone, if they choose to participate in the beta program?

We want feedback.  We’re open to ideas, thoughts, maybe someone even to take an existing application and look at a feature they want to eg: GIS or XQUERY. They can look at existing Python libraries and see what can be done with Python.   It is truly exciting how they can extend the capabilities of their applications through Python!


ELKIE:  Are you looking for more beta testers?

Always, there’s no such things as too many beta customers. 


ELKIE:  If a company or individual is interested, how and with whom would they get in touch?

They can email us at U2@rocketsoftware.com and express interest in the Python-U2 beta. 


ELKIE:  Where is Rocket currently in the development of Python with U2?

We started initially researching how to call Python from Universe and call Universe from Python. This was a proof of concept that we successfully did with a small number of early adopters. Once we were satisfied that this concept was solid, we moved into implementing integration with UniData. We extended it to also cover the CRUD “call interface”- Read, Update and Delete” - so it doesn’t just execute, but can also manipulate data natively. Once the UniData beta is complete we will create a UniVerse beta with those extended capabilities as well.


ELKIE: What do you think the integration of Python with U2 will mean for the future of the MultiValue world?

Python is great as it extends the capabilities of our BASIC programming language.  It keeps the freedom of MultiValue whilst giving new architectures and frameworks. Python is object-orientated and it will extend the functionality of BASIC, but not replace it.

Python has a vibrant community and lots of shared resources online.  It should help get new programming talent and increase the talent pool in a positive way.  It can give us access to some new technologies and different ways to do things. 

We think the Python-U2 beta demonstrates Rocket’s commitment to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies.  We think this is really big news – a pretty monumental thing - and should provoke new energy and excitement in a positive way.


Image Credit Flickr

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