Help a Python rookie do something slightly out of his league without flying too close to the sun
June 8, 2011 6:55 AM Subscribe
[PythonFilter] How can I create a location-based web application using Python? Or, what are some good resources to help me get started with this specific task?
posted by Rickalicioso to computers & internet (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'd like to create a web application using Python (and perhaps Django
?) that will calculate the environmental benefits of a residential photovoltaic (PV) system at a user-specified location – details below if interested. I was wondering how I could get started creating such a program. I've made some good headway on a couple of Python tutorials, but I seem to be going at a snail's pace and learning way more than I actually need for this task. Eventually I'd love to be proficient in the language, but for now I'd just like to get my hands dirty with this one project.
I don't have any formal programming experience except for an undergraduate intro course on Matlab, though I'm usually pretty good at figuring out what I need to do for a specific purpose. For example, with my limited knowledge I was able to tool around with Matlab to perform some matrix calculations for another project I was working on (Excel Solver wasn't cutting it). I've also taught myself a great deal of Applescript to automate some of my tasks, mostly working off of existing scripts I found online and modifying them to suit my needs.
Unfortunately, I've been having trouble doing the same with Python. There seems to be so much out there and I don't even know how to get started finding an example that I can use as a rough model. Does anyone have an idea as to how I could get started on this? Maybe some databases that would be helpful? I'm sure there are even better forums to ask this sort of question, so any suggestions on helpful Python-specific message boards would also be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Details of the program:
The only required input for this program is the location: city from a dropdown list, lat/long, or maybe Google Maps integration. Other parameters regarding the PV system (tilt, shading, size, etc) can also be set; otherwise, default values will be used so it's not too complicated for the casual user – very similar to NREL's PVWatts calculator (e.g. San Francisco). Behind the scenes, the location will be mapped to a database of solar radiation resource, and the environmental impacts of the PV system will also be calculated using life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques. At the end, results will be presented based on the financial concept of "return on investment":
Results reported in other forms (payback times, hard numbers, etc.) will also be available if the user is interested. Emphasis will be put on ease-of-use as well as an aesthetically-pleasing GUI, but that's all down the road.
- energy return on investment: energy produced per unit energy consumed over the PV system's lifetime
- greenhouse gas return on investment: emissions avoided per unit GHG emitted over lifetime
- financial return on investment (if I'm feeling ambitious), using price estimates for the system and location data to determine relevant federal and state incentives