- Series: Learning Python
- Paperback: 1648 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 5 edition (July 6, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1449355730
- ISBN-13: 978-1449355739
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 2.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 286 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Publisher
Who Uses Python Today?
At this writing, the best estimate anyone can seem to make of the size of the Python user base is that there are roughly 1 million Python users around the world today (plus or minus a few). This estimate is based on various statistics, like download rates, web statistics, and developer surveys. Because Python is open source, a more exact count is difficult—there are no license registrations to tally. Moreover, Python is automatically included with Linux distributions, Macintosh computers, and a wide range of products and hardware, further clouding the user base picture
- Raspberry Pi
- Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar
- EVE Online
- Thousands more...
Why Do People Use Python?
Because there are many programming languages available today, this is the usual first question of newcomers. Given that there are roughly 1 million Python users out there at the moment, there really is no way to answer this question with complete accuracy; the choice of development tools is sometimes based on unique constraints or personal preference.
But after teaching Python to roughly 260 groups and over 4,000 students during the last 16 years, I have seen some common themes emerge. The primary factors cited by Python users seem to be these:
- Software quality
- Developer productivity
- Program portability
- Support libraries
- Component integration
About the Author
Mark Lutz is a leading Python trainer, the author of Python’s earliest and best-selling texts, and a pioneering figure in the Python world.
Mark is the author of the three O’Reilly books: Learning Python, Programming Python, and Python Pocket Reference, all currently in fourth or fifth editions. He has been using and promoting Python since 1992, started writing Python books in 1995, and began teaching Python classes in 1997. As of Spring 2013, Mark has instructed 260 Python training sessions, taught roughly 4,000 students in live classes, and written Python books that have sold 400,000 units and been translated to at least a dozen languages.
Together, his two decades of Python efforts have helped to establish it as one of the most widely used programming languages in the world today. In addition, Mark has been in the software field for 30 years. He holds BS and MS degrees in computer science from the University of Wisconsin where he explored implementations of the Prolog language, and over his career has worked as a professional software developer on compilers, programming tools, scripting applications, and assorted client/server systems.
Mark maintains a training website (http://learning-python.com) and an additional book support site on the Web (http://www.rmi.net/~lutz).
Top customer reviews
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Speaking of which, readers will need to have at least some previous programming experience to make sense of this book, since it relies heavily on jargon that complete beginners are unlikely to understand. If you don't already know what functions, methods, strings, and such are (and experienced programmers here will laugh, but when you are first starting out, such terms can be confusing!) the author isn't going to explain, or if he does, it will be 200 pages later in a different section.
A more minor complaint is the dry and formal, textbook-like voice of the author. I don't need to be constantly entertained while learning, but I do need to have fun, and a little humor and personality go a long way.
I'm over a hundred pages in, and I give up. I need to actually program while learning to program. I was looking for a beginner friendly, tutorial style book that would encourage exploration and test my knowledge with quizzes. This isn't it. I think I will go back to my severely outdated copy of Beginning Python by Magnus Lie Hetland to brush up on basic program construction, then use this book as a reference as I get deeper into programming with Python.
A bit of background on me so you can get my point of reference: I've been through Charles Severance's book "Python for Informatics" and his Coursera course based on that book (beginning level). I'm slow at climbing learning curves but I'm not stupid (I got a 4.0 in my undergrad, I have a Masters, I taught myself two languages, I wrote five books). I'm studying CIS just for fun at a local college and I wanted to learn Python because I want to play around with OSInt (e.g., Michael Bazzell's book) and information security stuff to see if I could find applications for the same in my current job. I tend to learn best from books and then take what I learn in the books and apply it in projects or by hands-on experience.
I was lost from the start in "Learning Python." After about 400 to 500 pages, I wasn't coding anything. So, I signed up for Codecademy's Python course as a kind of "lab" to simply put my fingers on keys and code something. I continued to plow through "Learning Python" until yesterday when I hit page 910... and I realized I had over 500 pages to go... and I quit. (Yes, in my frustration I turned to comfort food and abused my body... I'm better now, though.) I agree with the guy who said in his review that trying to learn Python from this book is like trying to learn to speak English by reading a dictionary. A dictionary is helpful (very much so), but it's an awful way to try to actually learn the language.
I ended up very frustrated. I wasted a lot of time and energy that could have been better spent on something more helpful, practical, useful, etc.
I ordered "Fundamentals of Python" by Kenneth Lambert as my next attempt at learning Python. The book is several years old, but it got good reviews here and it seems to be a bit more of a practical approach. If I remember to do so, I'll come back here and write an update when I'm finished with his book so anyone reading this can at least have my opinion on another option.
Very disappointed in this book. As big as it is and as thorough as it appears, I had hopes of really learning Python well with "Learning Python." And I didn't. I quit.
EDIT / UPDATE:
Okay, here are the resources I found that worked better for me than Learning Python.
1. Python for Informatics by Dr. Charles R Severance and the Coursera course (or specialization) that Dr. Chuck teaches. This is by far the best resource (book + Coursera) that I found to learn Python for my needs. Very well written. Very well taught. Easy to understand, digest, and (best of all) apply. Highly recommended. Python for Informatics: Exploring Information
2. Introducing Python by Bill Lubanovic. This is another O'Reilly book (like Learning Python) and, as such, is outstanding. I find this book to be "Learning Python how it should be." It covers basically the same topics as Learning Python, but without the confusing depth and minute details. It has a bunch of exercises at the end of each chapter that let you practice with the concepts taught in the chapter. Great book. Introducing Python: Modern Computing in Simple Packages
3. Web Scraping with Python by Ryan Mitchell. After you get through a beginning book or two (like the two above), then it might be helpful to start a "project" book. This is the one I got and it's good. O'Reilly again. Well written. Short. Simple. But, whatever works for you (it might not be web scraping, but getting some projects going helps to apply the skills learned). Web Scraping with Python: Collecting Data from the Modern Web
First of all, I've read many of the other well reviewed, up-to-date, Python books (yes, all of them were shorter), and being new to Python, I ended up spending most of my time searching online trying to fill in the gaps that the other authors failed to fill in. With this book you don't need to reference anything else because the author does a great job of answering every question. You can tell he's dedicated his life to teaching Python and knows what problems his readers will run into.
While this books is long, it doesn't feel long. It's not just page after page of code samples. Each concept comes with a few code samples and is followed up by very well-written, clear explanations so it's actually a fairly quick read (for a 1600 page book). Does he repeat himself as other reviewers have noted? Yes, but it feels like when he does it's purposeful.
Even though you often hear that Python is easy to learn, it's an incredibly deep language that requires time and effort. I believe that by having read this book that I'm starting out far ahead of other new Python programmers, I appreciate the language even more and I'm very comfortable even with Python's advanced topics.