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Head First Programming: A learner's guide to programming using the Python language [Paperback]

by David Griffiths, Paul Barry
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 4, 2009 0596802374 978-0596802370 1

Looking for a reliable way to learn how to program on your own, without being overwhelmed by confusing concepts? Head First Programming introduces the core concepts of writing computer programs -- variables, decisions, loops, functions, and objects -- which apply regardless of the programming language. This book offers concrete examples and exercises in the dynamic and versatile Python language to demonstrate and reinforce these concepts.

Learn the basic tools to start writing the programs that interest you, and get a better understanding of what software can (and cannot) do. When you're finished, you'll have the necessary foundation to learn any programming language or tackle any software project you choose.

With a focus on programming concepts, this book teaches you how to:

  • Understand the core features of all programming languages, including: variables, statements, decisions, loops, expressions, and operators
  • Reuse code with functions
  • Use library code to save time and effort
  • Select the best data structure to manage complex data
  • Write programs that talk to the Web
  • Share your data with other programs
  • Write programs that test themselves and help you avoid embarrassing coding errors

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 Programming uses a visually rich format designed for the way your brain works, not a text-heavy approach that puts you to sleep.

Frequently Bought Together

Head First Programming: A learner's guide to programming using the Python language + Head First Python + Head First Java, 2nd Edition
Price for all three: $92.64

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  • Head First Python $31.48
  • Head First Java, 2nd Edition $26.07

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Griffiths began programming at age 12, after being inspired by a documentary on the work of Seymour Papert. At age 15 he wrote an implementation of Papert's computer language LOGO. After studying Pure Mathematics at University, he began writing code for computers and magazine articles for humans and he currently works in the UK, helping people to create simpler, more valuable software. He spends his free time traveling and time with his lovely wife, Dawn.

Paul Barry is formally educated and trained in Computer Science and holds a Masters Degree in Computing Science. He has been programming professionally, on and off, for close to 25 years. Paul already has two textbooks to his name, and is also a Contributing Editor to Linux Journal magazine. His day job is with the Institute of Technology, Carlow in Ireland where he has spent over a decade preparing Ireland's next generation of computing folk to be productive in the workforce. His role as a third level educator affords him the opportunity to explore, learn and teach the very latest programming technologies and practices, which is something that he enjoys even though he knows this makes him a bonafide "geek". Paul lives just outside the town of Carlow in Ireland with his wife, two sons, daughter, dog and cat. There's a bunch of computers and a growing collection of music instruments in the house, too (and like a lot of the Head First family, Paul is a struggling guitarist trapped inside a geek's body). He has so far resisted any suggestion that the family acquire a hamster ... or a set of drums.

Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596802374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596802370
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
I like the Head First Books. I find them enjoyable and a lot of fun to work through. So I was looking forward to starting a hobby in programming by working through this book. Unfortunately I found this book to be both frustrating and confusing in places rather then enjoyable and rewarding.

The goal of the book is to use the Head First method of learning to teach the reader programming concepts using Python 3. HF Programming is very good in explaining programming concepts, however personally I had problems with some of the exercises it gives the reader. The reason I had problems with some of the exercises was I felt that the authors didn't explain how Python 3 worked in sufficient detail.

There are two main types of exercises in HF Programming, code completion and writing/modifying a program from scratch. In the code completion exercises the authors would present the reader with a program that was missing code segments. They would supply the code segments needed to complete the program at the bottom of the page. The reader had to pick the correct code segment and insert it into the missing line. The writing/modifying a program from scratch exercises would present the reader with a problem and then ask the reader to write/modify a Python 3 program to solve the problem.

I had no problem with the code completion exercises. Using the concepts taught in the book, and examining the code carefully, I was able to work though these exercises, just fine. However most of the time I found that I didn't have enough knowledge of how Python 3 worked to be able to complete the writing/modifying a program from scratch exercises.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This book teaches general programming concepts to people who have used a computer but never programmed before using Python 3 and the IDLE IDE. Python was used because it has a pseudocode look to it - the new programmer doesn't have too many obscure things to remember. If you are going to use Python, you should teach version 3 since not even Python 2 print statements work in Python 3. If you know you are going to be using Python, one of the main drawbacks of this book is that it does not teach you to program in Python "the Python way". However, the authors believe, probably correctly, that if you don't even know what a control loop or an exception is, that most of the books on specific languages might be too big a first step for the budding programmer, and they are probably right. The book doesn't get into heavy concepts such as algorithms, automated testing, threads, recursion, and alternative tools, but once you finish that book you can go to more advanced texts and pick those concepts up fairly easily.

If you are not familiar with the Head First approach in textbooks, it may seem strange at first. The book uses lots of cartoons and odd looking pictures of people that appear to be from 50's issues of Life Magazine so that you'll remember things. There are Q&A sessions, concrete projects and exercises, and even crossword puzzles. Be sure to finish every exercise or the information won't "get into your head" the way the information has been designed to do so. I'd say because this series of books is so good at holding your interest, it would be an especially good choice for a high school student who is just learning to program. Highly recommended for the novice programmer.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Introduction To Programming Using Python 3 December 28, 2009
This tutorial in programming for the adult (high-school and beyond) beginner is outstanding, probably the best volume of its kind. But, determining whether this book is for you and getting the most out of it requires understanding what it successfully sets out to accomplish. It is a careful guide-yourself tutorial in programming concepts and practice for the mature (but-not-humorless) reader providing scientifically-designed pedagogy to instruct and give practice in modern programming concepts using the Python 3 language. The purpose of this book is to enable an adolescent or adult who has never programmed previously, to accomplish significant coding projects and to provide instruction in modern programming methods. It is not (nor does it claim to be) the most efficient method of learning Python and its idioms for someone who has previous programming practice. In fact it eschews Python style in favor of whatever control structures and statements will be clearest to the novice and that will provide a template which can be followed in other modern languages. Like all of the excellent and carefully taught Head-First series it offers designed multi-sensory instruction in the topic under consideration applying recent discoveries in cognitive science and instructional design to ensure that the reader "gets it" and can carry out the methods s/he has learned in practice. I would highly recommend this book to instruct a beginner in programming on modern methods and practices. It does not pretend to be a general introduction to the Python language, its idioms, libraries and practices. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book to learn python
Good book to learn python.
However, as person with no other background in programming, it starts to get hard to follow in the middle. Read more
Published 4 days ago by J. Moon
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent concepts, great place to start
If you want a slow intro to computer science concepts involving programming, this is an outstanding place to start. Read more
Published 3 months ago by engineering student
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreal
I am just beginning a course Introduction to Programming and this 4 year old book is required. When doing the examples in Chapter 2... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Python
This gets you by on how to learn a little bit about python. But beware there is a 2.27 to 3.11 and this is the newer version of the python code.
Published 8 months ago by Jared
3.0 out of 5 stars Has errors-doesn't explain all the code

I'm quite new to programming. Before reading this book all I knew was a difference between a variable and a constant and how to declare a variable. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Pablo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great format.
I really enjoyed the layout and pace of this book. The lessons are practical and useful. Using Python really made learning the concepts of programming easier for me. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jonathon S Mohon
4.0 out of 5 stars Textbook for College
This textbook was required for my college class. When I first glanced through the book, I thought it to be rather basic since I have taken a few programming classes which want into... Read more
Published 14 months ago by myruggy89
5.0 out of 5 stars Begin your journey here
The head First series of leaning is by far one of the most ingenious and effective learning methods I've encountered. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bill
1.0 out of 5 stars The examples in this book are incompatible with Python
Buyer beware: Do not purchase this book! The lack of polish is astounding, especially considering that it's published by O'reilly which is a respectable publisher. Read more
Published 20 months ago by airspoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for first time programers
It's designed for showing you fundamentals and brings you strait into the python programing language. I really like this series of books, first found it at my library.
Published 22 months ago by Chad Buhrandt
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