This week we welcome Martin Fitzpatrick (@mfitzp) as our PyDev of the Week! Martin is the author of “Create Simple GUI Applications with Python and Qt 5” and the creator of the LearnPyQt website. You can also check out his personal site or see what he’s up to by visiting his Github profile. Let’s spend some time getting to know Martin better!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
I’m a developer from the United Kingdom, who’s been working with Python for the past 12 years, and living in the Netherlands (Amersfoort) for the past 5.
I started coding on 8 bit machines back in the early 90s, creating platform games of dubious quality â€” in my defence we didn’t have StackOverflow back then. Later I moved onto the PC, first writing DOS games and then, after someone invented the internet, doing a stint of web dev. I’ve been programming on and off ever since.
Rather than pursue software development as a career, I instead took a long detour into healthcare/biology. I worked first in the ambulance service, then as a physiotherapy assistant and finally completed a degree and PhD in Bioinformatics & Immunology. This last step was where I discovered Python, ultimately leading me to where I am now.
In my spare time I tinker in my workshop, creating daft electronic games and robots.
I like robots.
Why did you start using Python?
I first used Python back in 2007 when I was looking for at alternatives to building websites with Drupal/PHP. That led me to Django and Python. It felt so much simpler and more logical than what I’d used before, after knocking something together in an afternoon I was basically hooked.
For the next few years I was using Python almost exclusively for web development, and it probably would have stayed that way was it not for my PhD.
My thesis project was looking at the effects of metabolism on rheumatoid arthritis, and required me to analyse some big chunks of data. Having worked with Python for the previous 4 years it only seemed natural to try and use it here, rather than stop and learn R or MATLAB. The Python data analysis landscape was still a bit rough back then, but improving quickly â€” pandas and Jupyter notebooks first appeared during this time. The final couple of years of my PhD I was looking to make the tools I’d written more accessible to non-technical users and started building GUI applications with PyQt5.
In the past couple of years I discovered microcontrollers (ESP8266 and Raspberry Pi) and have built some silly things with MicroPython.
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
Python is my favourite, hands down. There is something about the language that lines up very well with my brain, might be all the empty space.
I have learnt and forgotten quite a few languages including PHP, Pascal, Perl, Prolog and Z80 assembler. I can still bash something together in C and does MicroPython count as another language?
Thanks for doing the interview, Martin
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