Python in the wide world week - day 5, YouTube

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One of the reasons why I started this series is because I've heard words like "Yeah, Python is nice ... but it's so slow ... can you actually do anything with it?" too many times. And what is the answer? Just look at YouTube's success.



What is YouTube?

I'm guessing that if you're reading this, you already know what YouTube is :)

Where is Python used?

Python is fast enough for our site and allows us to produce maintainable features in record times, with a minimum of developers

-- Cuong Do, Software Architect

YouTube uses Python everywhere - from new features, searching / finding videos, running the videos etc ... YouTube currently has well over 1 million lines of Python code.

Mike Solomon gave a great talk at PyCon 2012 (below, skip to the 10 minute mark for the beginning of his talk as the things before aren't really interesting. )

For me, there are two main points to this talk:

Start simple, grow when needed:

A scalable system is one that's not in your way, that you're sort of unaware of. It's not buzzwords or anything like that, its just about a general problem solving ethos ... You need flexibility to solve problems and the minute you over specify something, you paint yourself into a corner.

-- Mike Solomon, PyCon 2012

Stay flexible:

How YouTube was originally designed had no bearing on what it actually became. Does anybody know that YouTube was a dating site? [*laughter from audience*] ... If we had designed for that I think we would be having a substantially different conversation.

-- Mike Solomon, PyCon 2012

Let's get one thing out of the way. YouTube is not only big ... it's huge, it's colossal, enormous, massive, immense, tremendous and any other word you can think of. Let's look at some statistics1


  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year

But still, YouTube manages to work it's way through all that data using technologies that are often held in regard as "slow" or "not good enough", such as Python, Apache, MySQL, ... and the way they do it is explained nicely in the video, so it's a great watch for anyone that is interested in any kind of development and deployment.

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