Monday, August 8, 2011

Meet the Team: Michael Foord

This post is part of the "Meet the Team" series of posts, which is meant to give a brief introduction to the Python core development team.

Name:Michael Foord
Location:Northampton UK
Home Page:

How long have you been using Python?

I first started using Python as a hobby in 2002. I started using Python full time for work in 2006. When I started programming with Python it was with a group of guys who wanted to write a program to aggregate information from a Play By Email game. None of us had done any programming for a while and we had just decided on using Smalltalk when someone suggested we try Python. I quickly fell in love with Python.

How long have you been a core committer?

I became a core-committer at PyCon in 2009. It was originally because of my involvement with IronPython.

How did you get started as a core developer? Do you remember your first commit?

During the PyCon 2009 sprints I worked with Gregory Smith, another core developer, to incorporate some improvements to unittest contributed by Google.

Which parts of Python are you working on now?

After the initial work on unittest at the PyCon sprint I took on fixing other issues and making improvements to unittest, which was without a maintainer. I became the maintainer of unittest but also contribute to other parts of the standard library.

I'm involved in supporting Python in various other minor ways, such as looking after Planet Python, being a PSF member, helping out on the webmaster alias and so on.

What do you do with Python when you aren't doing core development work?

For my day job I do web development for Canonical. I work on some of the web services infrastructure around the Canonical websites and also some of the services that integrate with Ubuntu itself. That's good fun and its a great team.

In my spare time I work on projects like unittest2 (a backport of the improvements of unittest for other platforms), mock (a testing library that provides mock objects and support for monkey patching in tests) and a whole bunch of other smaller stuff.

I'd like to write more, but having devoted the best part of two years to writing IronPython in Action I doubt I'll take on any large writing projects soon.

What do you do when you aren't programming?

I'm very involved in a church in Northampton (UK), which takes a lot of my time and I help with administration for a charity we run. This is one reason why working for Canonical is good - I can work from home and having put my roots down here I won't move anywhere else (I certainly don't stay for the weather). Needless to say there isn't much Python programming happening in Northampton. My first full time programming gig was with an amazing team in London, which was a two hour door to door commute each way. I managed four years of that, and really enjoyed the job, but having escaped the commute I'm not likely to ever go back.

I also enjoy gaming on the XBox. Unfortunately if I find a game I like I can get sucked into it for weeks so I have to be careful. I've avoided world of warcraft and eve online for this reason... I also organise a monthly geek meet in Northampton. There aren't enough Python programmers for a Python user group but we have a good collection of geeks of all sorts. We normally just get together in a pub and chew the fat or show off our latest gadgets.