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Python Essential Reference (2nd Edition) [Paperback]

David Beazley
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 7, 2001 0735710910 978-0735710917 2

Python Essential Reference, Second Edition, is the definitive guide to the Python programming language. Designed for programmers, it covers the core language, more than 100 modules in the standard library, and the techniques used to extend Python with compiled procedures in C or C++. Coverage expands upon and clarifies existing Python documentation - especially for advanced topics, including operating system interfaces, threads, network programming, and Unicode.

Concise, to the point, and extensively indexed, readers will find this volume packed with information not previously available in any other single reference source. Updated for Python 2.1, it is a must-have for any serious programmer wanting to develop advanced Python applications.

As a comprehensive reference to the Python programming language, this book will help you:

  • Learn about the features in Python 2.0 and 2.1
  • Master the details of Python types, operators, and the execution model
  • Discover the details of Unicode and internationalization support
  • Learn the details of operating system interfaces, threads, and network-programming modules
  • Build C/C++ extensions to Python
  • Make effective use of the Python library
  • Find the information you need to start developing advanced Python applications

  • Editorial Reviews Review

    For anyone who programs in Python, David M. Beazley's Python Essential Reference, Second Edition will serve as a capable and exceptionally competent guide to current Python syntax and library modules. Concise, yet authoritative, this book sets a high standard as a one-volume reference to this powerful object-oriented programming language.

    Although the author claims that this title is not really a tutorial, the first 100 pages actually provide an excellent guide to the basics of Python as a language. Geared especially to the experienced programmer seeking to see what's different (and potentially better) about Python, sections on the language itself will let you ramp up on the basic and advanced topics. Short sections with code excerpts that show off essential language features will help you learn or enhance your knowledge of Python quickly. Standout sections here include excellent coverage of object-oriented features, like "special methods" that will let you add custom classes to Python that are just as flexible as built-in classes.

    The heart of this book is the 250-page reference section. The author concentrates on all current Python modules (eschewing deprecated or obsolete APIs). Starting with basic modules for Python services and operating system functions, and including handling strings and math functions, the author explains and illustrates each module with short sample code, along with a full listing of APIs. Sections on Python's impressive support for virtually all networking protocols (including sockets, HTTP, FTP, and e-mail) are a standout and will arguably justify the cost of this title for many Python developers. Later modules look at undocumented functions, plus there's an in-depth guide to integrating Python and C code. (This material can even help you build custom Python modules.)

    With a remarkably clear presentation style, this well-organized reference offers a compact and worthy guide to today's Python that's sure to meet the needs of many working programmers. --Richard Dragan

    Topics covered:

    • Reference (and expert-level tutorial) for Python 2.1
    • Quick overview of Python essentials (including basic syntax, reserved words, and operators)
    • Types and objects (including built-in types, modules, classes, and special methods)
    • Operators and expressions (operations on numbers, sequences and dictionaries, type conversion, conditionals and loops)
    • Control flow
    • Functions and functional programming idioms
    • Classes and object-oriented programming tips
    • Modules and packages
    • Input and output (including files and persistence)
    • The Python execution environment
    • Python library reference
    • Python services (including garbage collection and "pickling")
    • Mathematical functions
    • Strings
    • Data management and object persistence APIs
    • Operating system services (including Mac OS and Windows-specific functions)
    • Python threads
    • Network programming (including HTTP, FTP, NNTP, and other Web protocols, socket programming, retrieving URLs)
    • Internet data handling and encoding (including mail attachment and MIME support)
    • Restricted execution and security modules
    • Undocumented modules
    • Extending and embedding Python and C
    • Summary of changes between Python 1.6, 2.0, and 2.1

    From Library Journal

    Though Python is a relatively new programming language, it has quite a significant audience owing to its sensible syntax. An active user of Python since 1996, Beazley provides ample information on the fundamentals of versions 2.0 and 2.1, including syntax, functions, operators, classes, and libraries. This is first and foremost a reference, so he avoids lengthy discussions of Python's superiority. Peppered with good code samples and featuring a companion web site with more extensive pieces, this title should be on hand in larger libraries.
    Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

    Product Details

    • Series: Essential Reference
    • Paperback: 416 pages
    • Publisher: Sams; 2 edition (June 7, 2001)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0735710910
    • ISBN-13: 978-0735710917
    • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,967,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    More About the Author

    I've been programming computers of various sorts for more than 25 years. For the most part, I would consider myself to be a die-hard C programmer although I have to admit that I also really like assembly language programming. Oddly enough, however, I'm probably best known for my work with the Python programming language. I first came across Python in 1996 when I was writing high-performance software for supercomputers. At the time, I became interested in using it as a control-language for interfacing with software components written in C. As a result, I wrote some tools to simplify this process and became fairly active in the Python community. Python is definitely my language of choice for doing just about everything that would be annoyingly tedious to do in C.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, concise Python reference March 7, 2000
    Intending to familiarize myself with Python, I picked up a copy of O'Reilly's Programming Python a couple of years ago. After an initial attempt at going through the book, it has been on my book shelf since. It was simply not organized in a fashion that allowed me to quickly pick up the essentials of the language.
    As someone who was already familiar with C/C++ and Perl, but wanting to learn Python, the Python Essential Reference was exactly what I was looking for. Yes, most of the information contained in the book is available in the Python reference documents, but not collected in one place.
    In addition to adding examples from his own experience, David Beazley has done an excellent job in concisely summarizing the built-in features of the language as well as providing a nicely indexed library reference.
    While this book may not be immediately useful for someone looking specifically for a language tutorial, beginning or advanced Python programmers will get useful information from this book for much longer than most tutorial style books.
    Highly recommended.
    Comment | 
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    34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference February 18, 2000
    By A Customer
    Firstly, ignore the review by Mr. Leopold. Despite the fact that that book is not intended as an introduction to the Python language, and mind you, this is stated repeatedly within the foreward and introduction, he seems to insist on treating it as such. Further, he can't seem to decide if he's reviewing the language or the book... All in all, a very poorly written review.
    In any case, this is an excellent reference manual, suitable for Python hackers of all experience levels aside from complete newbie. As the sort that hates having a web browser open to sift through documentation, this reference is a godsend. The information presented is often terse, but quite clear.
    The first 86 pages are a handy reference for the language itself. Being fairly familiar with Python already, I only skimmed over this section, but it seemed nicely organized.
    The next big chunk of the book, the library reference, is nicely done as well. The modules are organized into sections based on general function (Math, OS Services). Each module name is listed in bold, and is followed by a quick list of platforms it is available on and a short description. After that, the authors rattle off the relevant details (classes, functions, variables, and so on) for each module. The classes and functions generally get the bold header with short paragraph description treatment. Everything else is typically listed in tables. This approach works surprisingly well, and though there are some cases where modules with large numbers of functions have them listed in a table, this is only done when it makes sense. A good example of this would be the math module, and its many (not surprisingly) math related functions such as sin, sqrt, and log.
    Read more ›
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    47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Review of 3rd edition March 13, 2006
    By C. Dunn
    Good points:

    * Much-improved readability

    The font, layout, etc. are all much better than in previous editions.

    * Lengthy coverage of important modules

    Especially: optparse, logging, doctest, and unittest.

    * Excellent tutorial for programmers

    This (chapter 1) is the best I've seen -- very clear and succinct. Give it to anyone wanting to pick up Python fast.

    * Has all the necessities.

    Good index, good explanations of language usage, etc. All standard modules are at least mentioned, and all useful ones are covered.

    Bad points:

    * Reference section says very little that is not in the Web docs

    The Nutshell book documents each function of a module with an explanation of how to use it and what to watch out for. It often provides a useful example. Beazley, on the other hand, has mostly restated the web docs, which are free.

    * Lacks future feature coverage

    Previous editions of this book stated the version of Python covered on the cover. This book covers 2.4, but you have to open it to find that out. That would be a minor point, except that it has absolutely nothing about what to expect in 2.5. The Nutshell, on the other hand, claims to cover only one version but actually reveals a great deal of what to expect in the next. Beazley could have at least mentioned relative imports, return-from-yield, and anything deprecated.

    * Important points can be difficult to find

    I had to look in several places before I finally learned what ellipsis is for in slicing.


    This book does not add much value beyond the web docs. However, if you need a hard-copy reference for Python2.4, this is your only option, and it's not a bad one. It's very well-organized and very easy to read.
    Comment | 
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    35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
    This excellent reference concisely covers the Python language and libraries. It is a model of what a reference should be: well-produced, tightly written, comprehensive without covering the obsolete or arcane. I even like the small type face.
    Peter Leopold's pompous 'official' review is off the mark in a variety of ways. For instance, the reason there aren't comparisons to other languages is precisely that this is _reference_, not advocacy or tutorial.
    Leopold's ill-tempered criticisms of the language itself are hardly relevant to the quality of the book; they also happen to be incorrect. Python _does_ support bytecode-only distribution. Python _is not_ a cleansed version of Perl. Python _is not_ only for quick and dirty projects.
    Python _does_ provide the abstraction mechanisms and libraries to solve serious problems in a maintainable way, as long as execution efficiency isn't paramount.
    Comment | 
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Everything you wished you learned online about Python
    Though I ended up with an older edition of this book, Python doesn't change all that considerably, and this author is definitely one of my absolute favorites. Read more
    Published 13 months ago by KSed
    5.0 out of 5 stars Just a quick +1
    If you are new to python this book will not help you. If you are looking for a standard library / language reference I find this to be very handy and always keep it on my desk. Read more
    Published on March 19, 2011 by MedIT
    4.0 out of 5 stars THE Book
    This is the book that is always by my work computer. The only thing I would like to see differently is more examples. Read more
    Published on June 9, 2010 by D. Roberts
    5.0 out of 5 stars Reference = Thorough, Concise, Well-Indexed
    This is a excellent REFERENCE book -- thorough, concise, and well-indexed. It is not a tutorial. It is not a textbook. Read more
    Published on December 27, 2008 by Wayne Cannon
    5.0 out of 5 stars far and away my favorite python reference
    This is my Python reference book of choice, my only complaint about the book is the quality of the spine, as constant use has led to some of the signatures to peeling away from the... Read more
    Published on December 5, 2008 by peter sgouros
    5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Reference
    I say Outstanding Reference, because that's what this book is. While there are examples, they are short and concise - this is not a "how to" book (though the introduction provides... Read more
    Published on March 3, 2008 by Chicagoan
    5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect programming language reference
    This little book isn't missing a thing! It's extremely well organized; I find it faster to get answers from this book than from the Internet. Can't say that too often!
    Published on February 18, 2008 by apecar
    5.0 out of 5 stars Conciese and informative book
    Very concise and precise information. I would recommend for anyone who wants advance book on python for reference and learning.
    Published on February 13, 2008 by K. Mehta
    5.0 out of 5 stars Nicely organized; Excellent index; Later chapters go into immense...
    This book is a highly detailed reference to the Python language. The introductory chapters build on one another and give the reader a decent introduction to the language. Read more
    Published on February 10, 2008 by Machine Learner
    2.0 out of 5 stars Examples Needed
    Python Essential Reference is a decent book. It is very convenient to have such a book at your desk with a nice index to look things up and concise statements of syntax etc. Read more
    Published on June 6, 2007 by GameMaker
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