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Programming in Python 3: A Complete Introduction to the Python Language [Paperback]

by Mark Summerfield
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
Programming in Python 3: A Complete Introduction to the Python Language (2nd Edition) Programming in Python 3: A Complete Introduction to the Python Language (2nd Edition) 4.0 out of 5 stars (46)
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Book Description

December 26, 2008 0137129297 978-0137129294 1st
This edition has been superseded by the second edition! The two editions have mostly the same material, apart from corrections and a couple of new chapters in the second edition (which is why it is bigger). They are both around the same price, so the second edition is much better value. This first edition covers Python 3.0; the second edition covers both Python 3.0 and 3.1 (clearly marking the differences.) Keep in mind that 3.1 is the minimum 3.x edition that Python's developers recommend (3.0 won't even get security fixes). Also, thanks to the language moratorium, the Python 3.1 language will be unchanged in Python 3.2 (which will have bugfixes & improvements to the library & many other under the hood improvements of course), so the second edition is good for Python 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2.

Python 3 is the best version of the language yet: It is more powerful, convenient, consistent, and expressive than ever before. Now, Mark Summerfield demonstrates how to write code that takes full advantage of Python 3's features and idioms. The first book written from a completely "Python 3" viewpoint, Programming in Python 3 brings together all the knowledge you need to write any program, use any standard or third-party Python 3 library, and create new library modules of your own.


Summerfield draws on his many years of Python experience to share deep insights into Python 3 development you won't find anywhere else. This book's coverage includes


  • Developing in Python using procedural, object-oriented, and functional programming paradigms
  • Creating custom packages and modules
  • Writing and reading binary, text, and XML files, including optional compression, random access, and text and XML parsing
  • Leveraging advanced data types, collections, control structures, and functions
  • Spreading program workloads across multiple processes and threads
  • Programming SQL databases and key-value DBM files
  • Utilizing Python's regular expression mini-language and module
  • Building usable, efficient, GUI-based applications
  • Advanced programming techniques, including generators, function and class decorators, context managers, descriptors, abstract base classes, metaclasses, and more


Programming in Python 3 serves as both tutorial and language reference, with all the examples tested on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, and downloadable from the author's website.

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

A sample chapter and all the book's examples can be downloaded from the book's web page. (Amazon don't allow URLs so google for "qtrac" to find the page.)

About the Author

Mark Summerfield, owner of Qtrac Ltd., is an independent trainer, consultant, technical editor, and writer specializing in Python, C++, Qt, and PyQt. His books include Rapid GUI Programming with Python and Qt: The Definitive Guide to PyQt Programming (Addison-Wesley, 2008) and, cowritten with Jasmin Blanchette, C++ GUI Programming with Qt 4 (Addison-Wesley, 2006). As Trolltech’s documentation manager, Mark founded and edited Trolltech’s technical journal, Qt Quarterly.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1st edition (December 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137129297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137129294
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Summerfield is a computer science graduate with many years experience working in the software industry, primarily as a programmer. He also spent a few years as Trolltech's documentation manager where he founded and edited Trolltech's technical journal, Qt Quarterly. Mark owns Qtrac Ltd.,, where he works as an independent programmer, author, editor, and trainer, specializing in C++, Qt, Python, and PyQt.

All Mark's books are aimed at programmers and others, such as students, scientists, and engineers, who already have some programming experience (how much depends on the individual book). Each solo book has its own page on the Qtrac website from which the source code can be downloaded and that lists the book's errata. All the books are designed to teach technologies that Mark loves and has found to be the best of their kind.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent January 6, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am new to Python and wanted to learn. Prior to purchasing this book, I was reading "Learning Python" by Mark Lutz. I was literally half way through that book and couldn't write even a simple script due to the way that book is structured. I would not recommend that book. I was frustrated and ordered this book due to its coverage of Python 3. I am pleased.

This book takes an approach that gives the reader a quick overview of the language that is complete enough to start using Python by page 40! When the book mentions a topic that is covered elsewhere, there is a little box in the margin that tells the page that topic is covered - foward and backward. Great idea! That is very handy.

I had a little task that I wanted to write a script to do and I was able to do that easily after finishing the quick intro.

I am still reading the book and there is a lot of advanced information that I have not read yet. If the beginning of the book is any indication, it will be quite useful.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for me.. April 2, 2009
By R Foose
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A previous reviewer mentioned his experience with Mark Lutz's book. I had a similar experience with Lutz's book too. Unfortunately, after what starts out with a very useful approach (one which should be widely used by other authors) of getting you up and running quickly, Summerfield's book falls into the same problems that Lutz's book had. Namely, it s very densely written, with no obvious separation in the text from what is the useful overall knowledge about a topic and what is the more arcane. I plodded through about the first third of the book, until I realized I was becoming confused about what I already knew about I quit. To be fair, the book is not intended as a tutorial so much as it is a reference. But I have to say, that it needs a major overhaul before it can be really useful in this context too. For example, more separation using white space, or sub heads, or something, should separate sections within a chapter, and separate examples and illustrations from unrelated previous or subsequent text. A little more use of emphasis or italics to highlight key text would be nice as well. And the font used for text and code is too similar, in my opinion. Especially when the code is inline with the text. That Summerfield knows Python is quite obvious. Too bad he and his publisher are not a bit more aware of how to present that knowledge to the rest of the world.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thorough Introduction to Python August 29, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mark Summerfield's text: "Programming in Python 3" is a very good introduction to the Python programming language for people with prior programming experiance in another language. I came to Python from MatLab and prior to that, C and Fortan. So I'm pleased with the book and find myself refering back to it quite often. Having said that, this is not a "For Dummies" type book. Familiarity with with directory structure, file handling, and command prompt (console) operation is assumed.

The book covers all of the built in types and programming constructs of the Python language. It also introduces some of the useful (batteries included) standard library functinality along with details for working with modules and packages.

Finally, as I'm working my way into the middle of the book, I'm finding that it's a good introduction to object-oriented (OO) programming concepts and techniques in the clean syntax of the Python language. The OO concepts are not obfuscated by a language that is too criptic or too messy. Since this is about where I'm at on my own learning curve, the book is proving quite useful.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put Your Seatbelt On September 5, 2010
This is a great book that covers Python 3 in a very orderly and concise manner. Readers are quickly introduced to the power of the language in the first 2 chapters, then each of the topics are covered in a more in depth way later in the book. This, however, is why I gave it only 4 stars. These beginning chapters may feel intimidating to some as the may feel as though they have been dropped in the deep end of the pool. More complex concepts like short-circuit logic are given but a few lines of explanation where a more detailed analysis may be warranted. All that said, it is the book I chose as the text for the python course I teach at the college level. I have limited time to get the students up and running, and this book surely does that. It also is a good stand alone reference that many of my students have chosen to keep on their bookshelves rather than return to the bookstore at the end of the semester. In short, it is concise, fast-paced, and in depth - covering enough of the language that the reader can come out the end feeling like they have a fairly good grasp of the language, concepts, and "pythonic thinking."
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, weak exercises December 24, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As others have noted, this is a fast paced book which covers Python 3 very well. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is that the exercises are not very useful. They almost all consist of minor modifications to a program which has been discussed in the text. This is not enough to learn the language. One must also write programs from scratch, or at least make major changes to existing programs.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is clearly targeted at developers who are already experienced programmers in some other language, who wish to migrate their skills over to Python. The book goes through each of Python's language features piece by piece, in a no-nonsense, concise manner. The book is excellent at explaining how Python implements various programming paradigms and different approaches to the "Python way" of doing things. It doesn't "talk down" to you, or spend chapters and chapters going over basic demo programs. This allows the book to cover a lot of topics very thoroughly.

For me, the book was an excellent read and a great way to dive in to Python, and I expect other programmers would have the same experience. However, the pace is probably a bit too brisk for people who are programming for the very first time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars fast shipping thank you
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Published 25 days ago by GeneH
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and well structured
This is a book for those who have programmed before. Novices would have heavy going here. Books is well structured and explains the concepts well. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Perez
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of info!
This is a pretty in-depth look at python. Recommend this book for people who already have some programming knowledge (although not impossible for first-timers to learn from). Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jon Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars good book so far
I am novice programmer , book a little complex , but well written and logical will read more tonight after jogging
Published 7 months ago by Mackinder
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reference for the moderately experienced
Definitely not a beginner book; fraught with pythonisms, but a very good reference for those difficult to understand syntax. Worth the money.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally well written
I could tell Summerfield in a previous life has been a documentor as it shows in every page of this book - easy to read, clear and concise but detailed enough to get you started... Read more
Published 11 months ago by John M Ballard
5.0 out of 5 stars Python For Evah !
The book is a complete introduction of python 3.
I suggest it for everyone who would like to learn python seriously.
Published 11 months ago by FutureCreator
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
I do have programming experience, but kind of a hobby activity decided to learn Python, especially since I have put together a Linux based system. Read more
Published 11 months ago by JimB
2.0 out of 5 stars Iffy instruction - bad code examples - kindle version is a mess
Just on the first chapter... If I hadnt tried to learn Python3 through Codeacademy, Youtube, and etc I would have completely lost by now. Read more
Published 12 months ago by ginsu
4.0 out of 5 stars great learning tool
I'm by no means an expert or accomplished programmer but with a little previous knowledge of python and a good amount of time this book is perfect for hobbist programmers to get a... Read more
Published 13 months ago by eskimoe
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