Learning Python
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: April 1999
Pages: 384

Learning Python is an introduction to the increasingly popular Python programming language. Python is an interpreted, interactive, object-oriented scripting language. Python is growing in popularity because:

  • It is available on all important platforms: Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Linux, all major UNIX platforms, MacOS, and even the BeOS.
  • It is open-source software, copyrighted but freely available for use, even in commercial applications.
  • Its clean object-oriented interface makes it a valuable prototyping tool for C++ programmers.
  • It works well with all popular windowing toolkits, including MFC, Tk, Mac, X11, and Motif. Learning Python is written by Mark Lutz, author of Programming Python and Python Pocket Reference; and David Ascher, a vision scientist and Python user. This book starts with a thorough introduction to the elements of Python: types, operators, statements, classes, functions, modules, and exceptions. By reading the first part of the book, the reader will be able to understand and construct programs in the Python language. In the second part of the book, the authors present more advanced information, demonstrating how Python performs common tasks and presenting real applications and the libraries available for those applications. All the examples use the Python interpreter, so the reader can type them in and get instant feedback. Each chapter ends with a series of exercises. Solutions to the exercises are in an appendix.
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oreillyLearning Python
 
3.5

(based on 6 reviews)

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Learning Python Review

By Gerald Senarclens de Grancy

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Learning Python:

I think this book is a great start for everyone who wants to program (not only Python, because I think Python is among the best languages to start with). I've quite a good programming background and it didn't bore me at all although it doesn't require any programming skills. Go for it!

Gerald

(2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
3.0

Learning Python Review

By John

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Learning Python:

For me the book was definitely a 5-bigeyed-critters read. However, I've had some exposure to Unix in various forms, shell programming, lots of C, and another interpreter with introspective capability (Forth!). Plus a little recreational reading and programming in OOP but no real professional committment to it yet.

Given this background, the book really hit the spot for me. Most of the knowledge required to understand the subtler points was in place, making it interesting and gratifying to plow through.

However, my rating of 3-bigeyed-critters is to indicate that it is probably to ambitious for a newbie learner (as has also been pointed out in another review). Perhaps there should be a "training-wheels" Python Boot Camp book that will give the real neophyte a better feel for the poles of functional and procedural programming between which basic Python seems to oscillate. This is not a slam against Python (I wish I could write something as good on the job, let alone in my spare time), but a frank recognition of its origin as a work-in-progress that was and continues to be molded over time.

I've never had as much quick payback from a book and language as I have with this book. When I saw that email capabilities were provided, I looked up an smtplib example on the Web and commandeered it for a Monte Carlo computation of the value of pi. Basically, you generate random coordinates in a square, count them and also the fraction that fall inside the inscribed circle. By comparing the hits in the circle to the hits in the square, you can arrive at a value for pi without resorting to calculus. It's a brute force approach, and it's not fun having to sit and watch the results scroll by on the screen, so I used smtplib to send me an email every billion iterations (one for each random pair of coordinates generated) with the latest (gradually improving) value for pi. Nice! Long integer support really helped with this, too. But I've never had a program of my own send me mail before: definitely worth the price of the book.

I had heard that Python was a good prototyping language some time ago, but was actually about to settle in and grind out something in C and VB/VBScript when I realized that Python had been installed on my Windows XP Home Edition without my even knowing it. I found out it was there after enabling Explorer display of hidden files and directories. There it was, Python 2.2, so I tried it out, verified that it worked, and then decided to get a book or two and learn more about it. "Learning Python" is my first exposure, with occasional excursions into the "Python Cookbook". Although I ordered the VBScript books from O'Reilly before I went off on this Python tangent, they will probably lie around unmolested until I've seen just what I can do in Python. I'll probably read them later and do something with them for resume candy, but I expect that I'll probably reach for Python first even after I've done the VB thing.

Also very gratifying was the fact that in spite of only a little exposure to HTML and no knowledge at all of CGI, I was able to understand the HTML/CGI example which will feed into some browser-enabled projects I'm working on now. All in all, a great language and a great book to get started, if you've been around the block with computers and maybe a few other languages.

Thanks to the authors for this book, and thanks to O'Reilly for being there all these years with killer technical documentation. The publisher's reputation for excellence is why I reach for the books with the animals first. I wish there had been something doing this for the IBM 360 and its successors!

Publish on.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Learning Python Review

By Jonathan Perez

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Learning Python:

I've owned this highly underrated book for close

to 3 years now and even though it covers only up

to Python 1.5.x, I would still recommend it as

*THE* book to use for learning Python. People

may complain of the slowgoing pace, but even as

an programmer with a lot of experience with other

languages (C, C++, Perl, PHP, Java, etc...), I went

through this book page by page and did most of the

exercises. The result was to solidify my knowledge

of Python. I recommend the same path to anyone who

wants to become really familiar with the language.

This is the most important book in my Python book

collection and I still browse through it whenever

I need to clarify certain concepts. I do wish a

2nd edition would come out covering the Python 2.x

features in much the same way they have been covered

in this book.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
2.0

Learning Python Review

By Andrew

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Learning Python:

This book, while very useful, is not what it seems or what the title claims. While I am fairly well versed in programming concepts and really like Python, the novice would do well to ignore the book's Title and introductory Prerequisites section that claims no background in programming is necessary. Get another book first. There is an assumption throughout the text that the user knows what different programming concepts are and has a basic undestadning of program flow, methods, OOP, etc. and even vague C++ knowledge would be helpful. My favorite example that appears is 2**X, with no previous mention of what this means--You know what it means if you know what it means. Python is an excellent introductory language, but use another book.

I love O'Reilly books for their logical layout and comprehensive and concise nature. "Learning Python" didn't fit the mold or quality I expected.

Andrew

(0 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
1.0

Learning Python Review

By DoomDoom

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Learning Python:

Ok -- so I am C/C++ and Java programmer and this was my first attempt at learning a scripting language. This book wasnt for me -- I found the Tutorial by Guido van Rossum that ships with the Python Distribution much more useful. Maybe this book will serve as a good reference or a doorstop. Better still -- can I have my money back !

-DoomDoom

 
5.0

Learning Python Review

By Rob Andrews

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Learning Python:

Once in a great while comes a programming book well-ordered enough for handy reference and pleasant enough to read while waiting in line. _Learning_Python_ is one of these. Although it would be easy to allow my enthusiasm for Python influence my opinion of the book, it is hardly necessary to do so. It compliments material found in the tutorial distributed with Python by building a foundation of basic knowledge needed to write good code and actually determine "where to go from here". It is appreciated.

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