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Django Birthday celebrates the popular framework that started in Lawrence

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Like so many good ideas before it, this weekend’s Python-powered conference-slash-block-party in downtown Lawrence, Kan., was born over beers.

As conference organizer Jeff Triplett tells it, it was a Friday night after work when Django co-creator Jacob Kaplan-Moss mentioned, “Hey, Django turns 10 next year. That’s kind of a milestone.”

The result of realizing that milestone is Django Birthday, a celebration of the open-source framework created in Lawrence and released in 2005. The conference, happening Friday through Sunday, will feature talks from Kaplan-Moss and fellow co-creators Simon Willison and Adrian Holovaty, as well as several other prominent figures in the community.

Pinterest, Instagram use Django

Django — named for guitarist Django Reinhardt — got its start at Lawrence’s local newspaper, where Willison and Holovaty needed to develop web applications quickly to meet the needs of rapid publication — development sprint turnaround times of hours not days, let alone weeks. It’s now a model-view-controller (MVC) web framework that “encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design,” according to its documentation.

With its drive to be “the web framework for perfectionists with deadlines,” Django gained popularity in rapid-development circles and now powers such big-name projects as Pinterest and Instagram.

“I’m amazed every day with how low the barrier has become and how many people are doing great things with Django,” Triplett said of the framework’s start-up-friendliness.

As an open-source, community-focused project, Django has also attracted learn-to-code projects like Django Girls, “an initiative to inspire more women to become programmers,” whose founder, Ola Sitarska, will also be a featured speaker this weekend.

Here’s a video of Kaplan-Moss giving a history of Django:

Lawrence is a “star”

Tickets are still available to the event, which will feature speakers through the day Saturday at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts Street, in Lawrence, with a block party and live music to follow.

With talks on history, development and community, one of the goals of the event was to make Django’s birthplace itself one of the “stars” of the event, Triplett said. With developers coming in from across the country and across the world, “we want people to see how it’s possible that this all started here.”

Alex Garrison works in educational technology, tech support and WordPress development. Before finding her passion in programming, she was a reporter and web editor in Northeast Kansas. She lives in Omaha but is a Larryville townie at heart.