- Series: Beginning From Novice to Professional
- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Apress; 2nd edition (November 4, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9380501609
- ISBN-13: 978-9380501604
- ASIN: 1590599829
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 101 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional, 2nd Edition (The Experts Voice in Open Source) (Beginning From Novice to Professional) 2nd Edition
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"Beginning Python," in fact, is one of the best programming texts I've read in some time. The author's style is almost perfectly tuned: concise, letting footnotes carry some of the weight and an occasional dash of appropriate humor. And it is thorough.
Author Hetland uses 18 chapters to explain Python, beginning with the very basics and advancing into more complex topics. Unlike many authors, he keeps his example code short and focused, which is a major aid to rapid comprehension: he doesn't lose the student. The 19th chapter is a bridge, sort of discussing a philosophy of programming. The balance of the book is taken up with 10 practical Python programming projects, which cover a surprisingly broad range of applications.
Overall, this is a great introduction to Python for those with just a bit or more of programming experience. As the sub-title promises, this book covers Python "from novice to professional."
Thus far I've read two Python books: first, Learning Python; and second, Beginning Python (this book). Learning Python should, without a doubt, be the book to start with. It teaches Python from the ground up so that not only will you know how to write a function or a class, but you know what exactly is going on behind the scenes when all this is happening (but not in so much detail as to be over the heads of newcomers). Beginning Python, on the other hand, contains very cursory introductions to each element of Python. The core language is presented in the first 200 pages, each chapter being around 20 or so pages. After the first 20 pages, you are already introduced to functions and modules! Eventually these topics are covered again, but this book just moves too fast for a beginner.
I suppose someone who is already a programmer will be able to pick up quickly on this fast-paced introduction, but even that person will be at a loss for how Python is working under the hood. Beginning Python doesn't even spend much time explaining how all Python 'variables' are only references to an object, and never contain the object itself. This is a fairly simple idea to grasp, but the consequences are so important that it really needs a somewhat lengthy section of its own (that's just an example of how the book moves too fast).
But still, it's not a *bad* book. It was great for me because it served as a quick review of what I had already learned (more thoroughly) in Learning Python. Furthermore, later chapters discuss some of the more popular and effective third-party modules (i.e. py2exe, Beautiful Soup, wxPython) but again, not in very much detail. Each of these chapters is about 10 pages.
Finally, there are the 10 projects at the end of the book. I've only read the first one of these so far. They seem fairly involved, and probably require a little more experimentation with the language before tackling.
Overall, my opinion is this: Learning Python should be the first book anyone reads on the subject, especially newcomers to the language and hobbyist programmers, but even experienced programmers need that book. Beginning Python is a great review of the material because it moves through it quickly, but it is *not* a good introduction for exactly that same reason.
The strongpoints of this book are that it exposes you to a wide variety of standard and third-party modules, so that after you have read the later chapters, you will at least know where to go for further information for just about any project you can think of.
The author suggests the reader to stop when it's becoming hard to follow, practice writing programs, and then come back to the book when familiarized with more programming. In a way, I find this very honest. I think this is much better than the "... for dummies" competition. The book is completed by 10 practical projects showing mainly how to implement Python for GUI, communication, file managing, and so on... I have yet to find a good introductory book on Python for science, but I have found several on-line documents complementing the book.
Altogether, I recommend this for readers with some knowledge in Java/Perl and object-oriented programming languages.
It is badly in need of a proofreader. In addition to spelling errors, it does not always get the case of letters right -- and Python is case sensitive.
It does have some exercises, which I consider crucial for any learn to program book.
For a beginner, I would recommend "Head First Python", and for someone who knows how to program, I would recommend "Programming in Python 3" by Summerfield. I don't see who this book is aimed at.