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Panel Discussion: What is Static Typing in Python?


This panel discussion was MC by Daniel Pyrathon and held as part of the opening night at PyBay, SF Bay Area's regional Python Conference, on Friday, August 11, 2017. For more information on PyBay, visit, subscribe to be notified of upcoming conferences.

What is static typing in Python?

Python added support for annotation as part of function definitions with PEP 3107. PEP 484 later provided a standard syntax for type annotations, bringing static analysis, runtime type checking, and faster refactoring to Python. Since Python is a dynamic programming language, type hints don’t have any influence at runtime, but they allow certain tools to save time with fewer bugs. For example, IDEs such as PyCharm are able to perform safer refactoring, and static analysis tools such as Mypy can perform further type checks during build phases.

So far, static typing has been adopted by some renowned open source projects such as Zulip and is used at companies such as Google, Instagram, Lyft, and Quora.

What will we be speaking about during this panel?

We’ll be making this panel discussion accessible to everyone, so expect the panel to start with an introduction to static typing and then go deeper into best practices, support, and experience from open source project maintainers and companies. Since this feature has been a topic of substantial debate in the community, we’ll be discussing not only the pros but also the cons of this feature. Indeed, there are situations where type hinting may do more harm than good, and our panelists will be sharing with us their words of advice on this topic.

Why might this panel discussion be interesting to you?

Type hints are one of the new additions to the Python syntax may drastically increase the speed at which you program. Beginners will learn more about where the language development is heading. Open source project maintainers and contributors will learn the tooling, support, and best “getting started” advice from our expert panelists.

Project managers, CTOs, and engineers will learn how type hints can make their team more productive. We know companies spend a huge amount of money recruiting and sourcing engineers, and I’m sure they would do everything possible to make their onboarding experience more enjoyable, easier and faster since employees can expect to be more productive with an annotated codebase. This panel will not only help developers learn more about static typing, but also help identify areas where static type checking isn’t doing a good job, and learn how we can all improve it together.

Our panelists And now for the part that I’m most proud of, our list of panelists:

  • Łukasz Langa

    Łukasz is one of the PEP484 authors, a Python core developer, and currently a Production Engineer at Facebook. Łukasz has also been using mypy at work and I imagine has also been part of the latest push to port Instagram’s code base to Python 3! Łukasz is a long-time Python contributor, was a mentor for the Python Software Foundation for Google Summer of Code, and has spoken about Python around the world.

  • Jelle Zijlstra

    Jelle is a Staff Engineer at Quora, where he works on infrastructure, internationalization, development tools, and ML infrastructure. He’s a contributor to mypy and has also used mypy at Quora. Jelle will offer his perspective on advocating for static type checking at a great engineering organization like Quora and will also be talking about typeshed, a project that hosts type stubs for the standard library and major third-party libraries.

  • Ethan Smith

    Ethan has been involved with mypy for a while and has been working on typical, a project that uses the frame evaluation API (PEP 523) to dynamically generate stubs. While Ethan is still in college, he has been doing some amazing work to improve the support of type hints.

  • Andrey Vlasovskikh

    Andrey is the PyCharm community lead and maintainer of IdeaVim. PyCharm is used by many Python developers and its support for type checking “out of the box” makes it easy for developers to adopt.

  • Matthias Kramm

    Matthias is the author of pytype, one of the maintainers of typeshed, and has been working on Python static analysis tools for Google. Pytype is used in a few hundred projects at Google, including YouTube! Matthias will give us great insight into adopting type checking “at scale”!


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