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All Things Pythonic
Open Source Python for Nokia S60
by Guido van van Rossum
January 31, 2006
Summary
And now for something completely different... Nokia has released the source code for its Python port to the S60 high-end phone platform as open source. Yay Nokia! I'm using this blog entry also to plug (again!) the art project MobiLenin by Jürgen Scheible.

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Read it here: http://opensource.nokia.com/ or here: http://opensource.nokia.com/projects/pythonfors60/index.html The license is Apache Version 2. Downloads from SourceForge. Woo hoo!

What can you do with Python on a phone? A lot! Ten days ago I was visited by Jürgen Scheible, a German artist working in Finland, where he was a Nokia engineer for 8 years before quitting to become a Ph.D student and concentrate more on his art.

His latest project is MobiLenin - an interactive performance piece where passers-by (or, more likely, customers of a bar/restaurant) use specially programmed mobile phones to send in their votes for one of several variations of a constantly playing video clip of the artist in front of a backdrop of moving traffic, with a popular song on the soundtrack. The kicker (is that the phones are programmed in Python, using Nokia's Python port.

Jürgen is a big Python fan, and he was in the area to teach Python programming workshops for mobile phones at Berkeley and Stanford. He showed me some videos that he shot the week before during and after the Berkeley workshop; this is one of the best testimonies for using Python that I've seen in a while. The students all loved it, even the one who confessed being more comfortable with statically typed languages like Java, C++ and C# (most did not have that much programming experience). Jürgen has uploaded the videos to his website: http://www.mobilenin.com/. The tutorials are also be accessible from there; they are all in the form "expanation + sample code + screen shots" which makes them really easy to follow: http://www.mobilenin.com/pys60/menu.htm.

Another project he showed me was a collection of simple paint programs for his phone, also done in Python. Most of his scripts are between 20 and 100 lines of code -- the Python port makes all of the phone's incredible functionality available at a very high level: camera, internet, bluetooth, keyboard, screen, menus etc. Using these programs he snaps a photo, scales it, and uses it as a brush on a small canvas; then he snaps another photo, and so on; when he's satisfied, one button click uploads the photo to his online gallery. In this way he produces instant art that reflects his location, mood, and environment.

Jürgen is now back to Boston where he will be teaching at MIT until April.

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About the Blogger

Guido van Rossum is the creator of Python, one of the major programming languages on and off the web. The Python community refers to him as the BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), a title straight from a Monty Python skit. He moved from the Netherlands to the USA in 1995, where he met his wife. Until July 2003 they lived in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC with their son Orlijn, who was born in 2001. They then moved to Silicon Valley where Guido now works for Google (spending 50% of his time on Python!).

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2006 Guido van van Rossum. All rights reserved.

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