Head First Python
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: November 2010
Pages: 494

Ever wished you could learn Python from a book? Head First Python is a complete learning experience for Python that helps you learn the language through a unique method that goes beyond syntax and how-to manuals, helping you understand how to be a great Python programmer. You'll quickly learn the language's fundamentals, then move onto persistence, exception handling, web development, SQLite, data wrangling, and Google App Engine. You'll also learn how to write mobile apps for Android, all thanks to the power that Python gives you.

We think your time is too valuable to waste struggling with new concepts. Using the latest research in cognitive science and learning theory to craft a multi-sensory learning experience, Head First Python uses a visually rich format designed for the way your brain works, not a text-heavy approach that puts you to sleep.

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Recommended for You
Customer Reviews

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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O'Reilly MediaHead First Python
 
3.7

(based on 12 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

83%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (9)
  • Helpful examples (9)
  • Well-written (7)

Cons

  • Not comprehensive enough (4)
  • Too many errors (3)

Best Uses

  • Student (7)
  • Novice (6)
  • Intermediate (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Developer (5)

Reviewed by 12 customers

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5.0

Meets my requirements!

By Aschi

from Switzerland

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written

Cons

  • Need Programming Skills

Best Uses

  • Intermediate

Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

If you have some basic porgraming knowledge and you want start using Python then is this book a very good point to start from. My needs were fullfiled and I can highly recommend this book to other programmers.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Good, but more breadth than depth

By Pete Ashton

from York, UK

About Me Developer, Educator

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written

Cons

  • Favors Breadth Over Depth
  • Favours Breadth Over Dept

Best Uses

  • Novice
  • Student

Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

This is an excellent books for getting people interested in Python, and it is one I recommend when I run Python courses. It dives in quickly and gets people thinking in a Pythonic way, but then starts to skim over several different topics (I think that one chapter to cover the basics of OOP is light even for an introductory text). I think that the source of the problem is that this book has to co-exist with Head First Programming. The books cover different aspects of the language (and account for the bizarre omission of any discussion of GUI's in this book).

I know that all sounds critical, but this book is certainly better than the average introductory Python books, but I think on balance Head First Programming might well be better still. I think a combination of the two books would be the perfect start for a Python programmer, at the very least letting them know the things they need to get from Learning Python and Programming Python.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Great Prep for Other Python Books

By Will J

from Chicago, IL

Pros

  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Novice
    • Student

    Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

    Quick review: This book is great. If you want to start learning Python, pick this up now. Do the exercises, type everything out.

    I decided I wanted to learn Python. I planned to pick up as many books on Python - from O'reilly - ranging from beginner to advanced. I started with HFP since it promised to be a beginner text.

    I am very happy with this book! HFP exposes you to data storage (SQLite), web forms, modules and object-oriented code.

    My only qualm is that it's Python 3 and it seems like all the other books (and packages) are Python 2.6+. There is a section on Mobile / Android development too, but the emulator is so slow / buggy that I couldn't get it to work.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Good support

    By memilanuk

    from Wenatchee, WA

    About Me Hobbyist

    Pros

    • Easy to understand
    • Good Support From Author
    • Helpful examples

    Cons

    • Not comprehensive enough
    • Too many errors

    Best Uses

    • Novice

    Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

    I'm stuck in the same spot as I suspect a number of folks may be... on paper I 'get' most of the basic concepts. I can work through most of the examples without too much problem... but taking it from there and doing something productive with it is where I hit the wall. OOP is a big one for me on this, and after working my way through HFP I thought "Finally, I GET IT!". Then I went off to do something useful with it... whoops, nope, I don't got it :( Guess I need to take another (third) pass through it and see if it'll stick this time around.

    The number of errata is somewhat embarrassing, but I was happy to see that the author was responsive in the associated forum - all to often they disappear and are all but impossible to contact, or act offended that you found a mistake.

    I realize with the array of GUI tool kits available that covering any given one would probably result in somebody howling about it... but to not even cover Tkinter, which comes with the language by default? Yes, HF Programming covered it a bit, but not even touching on it here I think was a mistake. Instead of going off on mobile apps that require a particular kind of phone or an emulator, some coverage of the gui tool kit included with the language would be more appropriate IMO.

    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    excellent book for beginners

    By Mayank

    from Saarbruecken, Germany

    About Me Developer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Accurate
    • Easy to understand
    • Helpful examples
    • Well-written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Student

      Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

      After stumbling across multiple python books, none of which could motivate me from switching to this-programming-language-without-curly-braces-and-semicolons (blasphemy!) aka python, i knew if there ever was going to be a way i was going to like python, it would be through HF python. And i am very glad to say i was not disappointed. HF python is an excellent resource for beginners, who want to quickly get their hands dirty at writing cheap, dirty scripts and make things work. The graphical, interactive way of HF books needs no description, of course -- you just have to buy one to experience a totally different way of teaching that is so characteristic of HF books!
      On the whole, this book does a very good job of giving the reader a quick and easy way to start learning python. I totally recommend it to anybody who has a little background into programming and wants to dive right into python - head first.

      (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      1.0

      Pathetic

      By Rajesh

      from Bangalore, India

      About Me Designer, Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

        Cons

        • Not comprehensive enough
        • Too basic

        Best Uses

          Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

          I have been a great fan of Head first books. I learnt a lot from Head first Java, OOAD. Though I am a professional, I even went on to read head first Programming, for the way they do it. But I am thoroughly disappointed with the Head first python. It is not just waste of money, it is also waste of time. It didnt even cover the core concepts. So many things are left over. Also the examples are no where near interesting. The *AHA* factor is missing. Head first Programming is much better than this. The only drawback of that is that it didnt cover OOPS concepts. My opinion is that Head first Programming could have been revised to include the OOP. This is an unnecessary book. Eagerly awaiting to see how is Head First C

          (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

           
          3.0

          Needs to be edited more closely.

          By Brad

          from Dallas, TX

          About Me Student

          Pros

          • Concise
          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

          • Not comprehensive enough
          • Too many errors

          Best Uses

          • Novice
          • Student

          Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

          This is the fourth Head First book I've used, and I really like the series. This book is a great primer to Python, but it doesn't even scratch the surface of everything you can do with it. It is an incredible improvement over Head First Programming, in that new information is never introduced in solutions to the problems, as was the case in almost every single problem in Head First Programming, to the point where a non-programmer could not have possibly solved any of them without foreknowledge of Python.

          The pacing is good, not so slow as to become boring, but not too quick for a neophyte (me).

          It doesn't cover use of tkinter at all, or GUIs in any capacity, which is a little bit of a bummer, but HF Programming has a few good chapters on that.

          My primary beef with this book must be prefaced by the fact that it is around fifty dollars in a book store, and upwards of thirty from good online book stores.

          The spelling errors in this book are so frequent that, to quote Kevin Murphy, "We're already in Monty Python territory" by chapter 3. This wouldn't be much of a problem except that some of these errors are found in explanatory passages and example code, and if one with no knowledge of Python were to read them, they would start running into all kinds of value errors and other exceptions when the following page has a celebratory picture on it declaring how well the program works.

          Spelling errors really should be picked up by editing, especially when these books come at such a premium, but contextual and informational errors really make this into a serious problem that is more than just a pet peeve.

          Unless this is a new approach for Head First (using erroneous information to make you look at other sources to find the answer, thereby making you angry, causing you to remember the information better), this book seriously needs some fixing to be worth its price.

          Again, I liked the book, but I'm a little turned off by the fact that nobody went over anything in it before it went to the press.

          (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Excellent book, a most have book!

          By Charras

          from Sao Paulo, Brasil

          About Me Developer, Educator

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

          • No GUI development

          Best Uses

          • Intermediate
          • Student

          Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

          Head First Python by Paul Barry

          Overall I highly recommend this book. If you want to learn Python, but is not interested in web development, don't worry, just don't read chapters 7, 8, 10 and 11 ;-)

          Chapter 1:

          There are no instructions on how to install Python. I'll suggest to give specific instructions on how to install Python on every OS, and don't mean installing from the binaries, but from the source.

          The rest of chapter 1 is great. Have a LOT of dense material.

          Chapter 2:

          Great chapter with lots of details and new things to learn. The more a read, the more I love this book. Although is very dense, explains everything very simple, with excellent examples.

          Chapter 3:

          The only thing I would add to this chapter is the following link:

          http://docs.python.org/library/exceptions.html

          which has all the exceptions of python.

          Chapter 4:

          Just add the following example in the use of pickle:

          import pickle

          fileName = 'path/mydata.pickle'

          with open(fileName, 'wb') as mysavedata:

          pickle.dump([1, 2, 'three'], mysavedata)
          pickle.dump('this is a string line', mysavedata, -1)
          pickle.dump(['this', 'is', 'a new list'], mysavedata, -1)

          with open(fileName, 'rb') as myrestoredata:

          cond = True

          while cond:

          try:

          read_data = pickle.load(myrestoredata)
          print read_data

          except:

          cond = False

          Chapters 5 and 6:

          No comments. Excellent chapters.

          Chapters 7 and 8:

          Well, this chapters as the rest are excellent, with examples that one can follow, and help to understand. But web development is a topic for a separate book. Two chapters just shows the "peak of the iceberg"

          Chapter 9:

          Great chapter, good examples.

          Chapters 10 and 11:

          Even when this last chapter are great, with good examples and all. In total, this books use 4 chapters to introduce web deployment of python programs. But that means is a subject as I say before, that is very broad. One need to know and understand HTML, and how webpages work. As mention in this book, Head First has another book for that. So, if you like web development, and already know some of it, and want to start using Python, to help with it, this chapters will be nice for you. But in my opinion, 4 chapters could had been enough for a good introduction into GUI development. Maybe even some serial (RS 232)interface to be able to control some peripherals.

          (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Clear, Friendly Way to Learn Python

          By Caemdare

          from London, UK

          Verified Reviewer

          Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

          Having been a fan of the HeadFirst learning style ever since a good friend of mine introduced me to it last year, I was very pleased when I saw there was one on Python coming out. Not a completely new person to programming, I heeded the warning that it was aimed at someone already with some OOP experience, rather than the absolute novice... and found the book very easy to follow, with good examples and exercises. I not only would recommend it to people I know, I already have!

          (0 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          1.0

          Not as advertised

          By Falcone

          from Monterey, ca

          About Me Maker

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

            Cons

            • Not comprehensive enough
            • Too many errors

            Best Uses

            • Expert

            Comments about O'Reilly Media Head First Python:

            I am extraordinarily disappointed with this book. As Fale from Milan, Italy notes, it could better be classified as an assembly of notes, not a book on learning python. I thought I had bought a book on learning python. Further, The logic seems sloppy (ref page 18 which references a one name item in a list as an "inner list", then notes that it "could" have had more items... sloppy). Sadly, this book falls into the too common trap of presuming the reader already knows what the book is supposed to be teaching (so why buy the book?).
            This book might be useful for someone who is expert in at least one oop and just wants notes on best practice. If that is the intended market, it should be clearly stated. It wasn't.
            Sorry. I am a big O'Reilly fan, but not a fan of this book.

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