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on November 28, 2010
I have tried many programming books. I have even taken a programming class or two but it has never really clicked before. There have always been to many jumps from explanation to assumed understanding. I would get lost and things never clicked. Recently I decided to give programming another chance because I believed somewhere in the back of my mind that I should be able to figure this out. I have been a system administrator for years but have never delved into scripting or programming before because I thought maybe I was just never meant to be a programmer. I decided maybe it was just the way I learn. So I decided first to start out with a HeadFirst book. It lost me immediately. The way it was presented in that book definitely didn't click for me. I set back to the task of finding a book and came across this one. This is it. I love the way he goes through the code and then has you run it and then explains what every line of code is doing. This approach has finally made things start making sense. I am even able to figure out the Challenges at the end of the chapter and I am loving it! Thank you Michael Dawson!

On another note...I notice that people are having problems finding the files that go with the book. If you take the link recommended it the book and then go to downloads it is rather confusing, but if you go to the link recommended in the book and then do a search for python and then take the link for this book, another screen will come up that will give you an option to view available downloads. Harder than it needs to be admittedly, but that is how I found them.
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on August 4, 2010
I am a beginner with respect to programming, and do not have a particularly technical background: I know almost no math though I know formal logic pretty well. I was interested in learning something about computer programming just for fun and have looked through a number of books about a number of languages. I even spent some time with C before I decided on Python. To an absolute beginner, it seemed a relatively intuitive language without some of the messy detail required by C, for example, about memory allocation. I chose this book simply because it looked fun and very clear. Each chapter focuses on tools needed to create games. I do not have any interest at all in playing computer games of any kind, but it is a relatively painless way to learn Python. I also found the exercises at the end of each chapter very good. They are hard enough but not too hard. They generally required a fair amount of time and effort, but I was able to finally figure out all of them. This is important since I am doing this on my own.

The Cons: The book aims to be simple and brief, but sometimes it is too simple and brief. Yes I learned to get the computer to do this or that, but I did not fully get some of the concepts. In fact, I think the book moved on to fancy stuff like graphics before I got down all I needed of the basics such as file control. Perhaps someone who already knew something about programming would have had less trouble. For example, the material on writing to a file stored on the hard drive for future use was fine, as far as it went. But I realized, when trying to write a program of my own, that I did not understand a key point. If you have recorded some data to a file, and then want to revise that data, Python rewrites the entire file. Huh? What about my original data? It gets over written. There has to be a solution to this problem, but I did not find it in the book. After hours of work I devised a way to get the right result, but it was very messy and, when I posted a question on a Python forum, I found there was a simple way to do what I wanted. Maybe I am a bit thick, but I think this could have been directly covered in the book. There were several other topics that needed more discussion.

Still, keeping in mind that this book only goes so far, it is a very good introduction to Python. But if you are serious about learning Python, at some point, you are going to need one of those big fat and far more boring books.
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on August 4, 2011
Python Programming by Michael Dawson is a very well written book intended to enthuse amateur programmers into the world of video game programming. By the time you finish chapter 12 of this book you will be ready to create your own mini games much similar to games you find on apps on phones and such. For those of you who want this immediate pleasure I have to say, this is the book for you and disregard my poor rating. But for those who really want to get down to the nitty-gritty basics of python and develop a solid understanding of it, this is not the book for you. So if you're a programmer who dreams of being a game developer one day, I say buy this book right away - it's fun. But if you're looking for a more formal approach to programming and aren't necessarily interested in the gaming aspect of Python Programming read on.

Let me tell you why I think this book deserves only 3 stars. A bit of background, I started researching with particle physicists and astronomers at my school and programming python was much required so I decided I wanted a solid understanding of creating basic python scripts. What I ended up getting was a unorganized book that seemed to toss in information only for the soul purpose of creating a game at the end of each chapter. This was very bearable for the first 3-5 chapters but after that I couldn't get through a single chapter without having to scroll through multiple pages to find what a certain thing does because of it's lack of structure. It also lacks direction, it teaches you enough to get through the chapter but doesn't let you spread your wings and become creative with the script, by this I mean that it teaches you the very basics and moves on without getting a bit creative with the code. Also, there doesn't seem to be summaries which I feel, at least in programming, are essential because after you learn something and got it down you just want to reference it quickly. All in all I felt very dissapointed because the idea behind the teaching method is fun, but it fails at being rigorous and theoretical which is what I wanted.

So like I said, disregard this review if you're looking to have fun with programming which is 100% fine, but if you want to get more professional about writing scripts that don't involve programming games, I suggest another book (wish I could recommend one). Remember though, a book is what you make of it.

P.S. The downloadable content is online, just google the book name and author, maybe even the publisher - it's online.
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on January 14, 2010
The book is excellent but all the comments before this one apply to previous editions. Those editions included a CD with supporting software and all the programs discussed in the book. This third edition (Jan 1, 2010) asks the book owner to connect to a web site to download the support files. The instructions to do this are incorrect as the book now has a new publisher. Once on the web site, the files cannot be found. A phone call to their customer service was unproductive. "Our editorial staff will contact you by e-mail". Didn't happen.
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on September 14, 2010
This book is the only programming book that didn't bore me to death! I've read 20-30 programming books and never made it through them. I always find it too much writing and not enough hands on. This book uses one program after another to show you how and why the code is written.

Every time I finished a section I really had a firm grasp on the concepts and was working the challenges at the end of the chapter with only minimal reference to the book. The programs are simple, fun, and perfect to teaching. The book is laid out well and you keep rushing through the chapters to get to the next section which is more advanced and more fun. I like that it includes GUIs and graphics.

I would disagree that this book is only for those without any Python. I knew a little and had written some scripts before I read it. The simple and structured approach is great.

Buy this book and you will have a solid foundation for expanding into the more advanced areas like graphics, networking, etc.
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on August 11, 2011
I was a little hesitant to buy this book since some reviews pointed out that due to a publisher change the sample files were no longer available for download. I grabbed the Kindle sample anyway, though, and found that the author's website (the url of which is in the book) has the files. So while it may be slightly confusing to have the wrong url in the text of the book, the author's website (which is also printed right in the front of the book) does have the files you need. So this criticism of the book is not warranted.

Anyway, as for the book itself, I'm about halfway through and have found it very useful. I was taking a beginner's class in Python before buying this book, but since the classes were only once per week I wanted to learn faster. As such, I'm able to compare how this book teaches the concepts of Python programming against how the teachers in my class present the same concepts. And while there's no substitute for personal, interactive instruction, I can say that I'm very impressed by the readability of this book and the way it teaches programming. The code samples are very useful for showing how Python works, and the writing style is very easy to follow. He uses good analogies to illustrate concepts, and in general I've made steady progress through the book and am retaining a lot of knowledge. The searchability of the Kindle version is especially helpful, since it's easy to skip back to previous concepts if you need a quick refresher.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts on this book and let people know that the code samples are indeed available, though the url in the book is sadly incorrect. But again, just check the author's website and you can obtain them, which is highly recommended because they do make the learning much more interactive and hands-on.
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on November 3, 2011
I have no studied programing since the 80's when windows was in its infancy. Anyway I decided I wanted to learn a programing language and a friend suggested python. Since I have not worked with computer in ages I decided on this book as it is geared to begginers. The first thing I noticed is the download links dont work. If you go to the recommended links to get sample source codes the links have changed. So it took a while but I eventually find the downloaded files but they are not located where the book says they are so for this -1 one star. The other thing I noticed is that the author jumps around to much between different code for example he will start explaing whats going on step by step in one code and then jump to a complete new set of code before he finished explaing the first set of code this I found to be annoying, he started explain how the code works and should have just finished explaining whats going on before going off on a tangent to discuss anohter set of code only to return later on to the original code. So too much jumping around for me. -2 stars here. The other problem I had is that the text has sample code but some of it is set off to the right and initially you may not realize that python is sensitive to indents, so if you reading and entering code as you read you may not realize that the author needs an indent and you get an expected indent error. so the format of the print its not easy to see if there is an indent or not with some of the code on the book. -3 stars.
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on February 20, 2016
The best developer I know recommended this book to me --I'm a complete beginner with a short attention span, so this fun, challenging book is perfect for what I need! Each lesson is a game to be built and then tested! I could not be happier with this book and I am tearing through it.
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on July 12, 2010
I work as a software tester and deal with programming constantly. I have a minimal understanding of programming and have written basic scripts in Perl, C#, and Ruby. Oddly, for the testing I do, I have come across a lot of tools written in Python. To utilize those I decided to try this book out. I have to say that if you are new to programming in any way this book is great. The author literally breaks down every line of every program you write and explains what each line does and how they interact. I have never seen that in any programming books I have seen. Normally there is that point in the book where the author makes a huge leap and I cannot seem to find how he/she got there from where we just were. That has not happened in this book yet.

I will update my post as soon as I have completed the book.
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on June 8, 2010
First, to correct some misconceptions:

The Python language environment is available for free at python dot org. To get the latest version, this is where to get it from.
It comes pre-installed on Mac's, and most versions of Linux. HOWEVER, this book (3rd edition) requests that you do the exercises in version 3.1.x.
The Mac, and most Linux machines come with version 2.5.x or 2.6.x right now. So you will want to download 3.1 even if Python is pre-installed on your machine.

Windows doesn't come with Python pre-installed, so just select the 3.1.x version for x86 computers. The installer is EXCELLENT.
I tested it on WinXP, Vista, Win7, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu Linux, and all are usable.
Note that with WIN and Mac, when you save a file, you must put the .py extension when saving. Linux does it for you.

The digital version exercises are hard to find. The book points you to the website, but not where they are on the site. One of the menu picks on the bottom of the screen will get you headed in the right direction. This is why I gave it 4 stars. Something like that should not be busted on a fairly new book.

====================================================================

Review:

I was a commercial programmer from 1977-1992. So I had some experience with programming and know several languages. My children are 10 and 12 with no programming exposure. I wanted to teach them programming since it is not offered at their school. I picked Python since it's a high-level language that supports OOP (object oriented prog) yet can be used without it.

From the first day, it had the kids begging for more, and Dad wasn't bored either. Yes, some of it is a bit (yawn) for me, but it was necessary for the kids to avoid confusion. The tasks use games as examples, which makes the lessons less tedious, if not outright fun. There are homework challenges at the end of each chapter, and working source code for the lesson tasks should you get lost.

Whether there is a better book, I cannot say. But I do know it's about as good of a textbook as they come in my experience.

If you are an experienced programmer, just make your tasks a bit harder, but do read every page. There is often a bit of humor, or a little insight that makes it worth the read.
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