- Paperback: 552 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; Second edition (January 2, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0596002815
- ISBN-13: 978-0596002817
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Learning Python, Second Edition Second Edition
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About the Author
Mark Lutz is an independent Python trainer, writer, and software developer, and is one of the primary figures in the Python community. He is the author of the O'Reilly books Programming Python and Python Pocket Reference (both in 2nd Editions), and co-author of Learning Python (both in 2nd Editions). Mark has been involved with Python since 1992, began teaching Python classes in 1997, and has instructed over 90 Python training sessions as of early 2003. In addition, he holds BS and MS degrees in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, and over the last two decades has worked on compilers, programming tools, scripting applications, and assorted client/server systems. Whenever Mark gets a break from spreading the Python word, he leads an ordinary, average life with his kids in Colorado. Mark can be reached by email at , or on the web at http://www.rmi.net/~lutz.
David Ascher is the lead for Python projects at ActiveState, including Komodo, ActiveState's integrated development environment written mostly in Python. David has taught courses about Python to corporations, in universities, and at conferences. He also organized the Python track at the 1999 and 2000 O'Reilly Open Source Conventions, and was the program chair for the 10th International Python Conference. In addition, he co-wrote Learning Python (both editions) and serves as a director of the Python Software Foundation. David holds a B.S. in physics and a Ph.D. in cognitive science, both from Brown University.
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The rest of the review is about the second edition:
I would never try to use this book as a reference. It was not designed and it's not good for that.
It was designed as your first book on Python, especially if this is your first programming language. As such, it gives you a really thorough and extensive introduction written by a renowed authority. The parts on functional programming, Python's OOP and modules lay the solid foundation for the future Python programmer. Beware though: compared to similar "foundation" books in other languages' realms, this one is slow-paced, limited in scope, wordy and even redundant at times.
If you already know a language like C++, Java or Perl, and especially if you've already written some Python code, then this book is not your best choice: it will seem terribly slow paced, tedious, bloated and of no value as a reference (which is what an experienced programmer like you really needs most of the time). In this case, you could use a short and freely available tutorial like Guido's, then a good reference book like Python in a Nutshell and maybe some more advanced books like Python Cookbook and Python 2.1 Bible (provided there will be a new edition).
As an intermediate or experienced programmer, you may still benefit from Lutz's "textbook". You may want to skim quickly through the first 3 Parts (which make 180 pages of beginner's stuff you've learned in highschool, decorated with the occasional gem toward the end of some chapters), then slow down a bit for the rest of the book and pay special attention to chapters 14, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, and 27. This book has too many chapters for my taste, btw.
Part VIII, written by another authority (David Ascher), is a little too short and still bad for reference. In the next edition, I hope it will be expanded to a reasonable level of detail. I found the coverage of regular expressions particularly disappointing -- probably because they are covered by Mr Lutz's other book, Programming Python, which was supposed to be your second book. The exercises at the end of each Part are not the most interesting and useful I know of.
It does two things very well. First, it gives you a good overview of the language. You can read the book front to back and it has a nice progression. You'll certainly know the basics if you do that.
Second, and probably more importantly, for those of us too impatient to read a book cover-to-cover, it serves as an excellent reference for beginners. When I started out there were all the little noob things that I found myself constantly having to look up. Like "how do you specify a comment?" or "how do you structure and if-block?" or "how to you get a substring out of a string". Very basic questions like this that many python books don't bother with because apparently they are too basic.
If there is a weakness, it's just that this book is rather small and only covers the very basics. So reading this book alone will certainly not make you a mighty python programmer, or even give you enough info to probably write something interesting. But this book definitely deserves a place on your bookshelf if you are starting out and need the basics.
After a point I realized that I was hardly re-using my code in Perl...i used to just write up a script everytime it beckoned. I also started finding it extremely hard to maintain and even understand code that i had written a few years back. Electrical Engineers are super efficient at getting something done but not always with programming elan and elegance!!
I decided to move to Python...and this book is an excellent start...though it sounds like it is for beginners...it is nice to review the initial stuff to contrast with perl and it is reasonably exhaustive. I have found it much easier to maintain code and other people in my lab have also started using my code as it is much easier to understand. The object-oriented approach is an extra-incentive to think more in terms of C++....code is in general clean and quite-efficient (not as much as C..since it is byte-code).
All electrical engineers who use a lot of shell scripting and aren't experts in programming, moving to python will definitely offer more flexibility and is much faster to implement than C or C++. And this is a pretty decent book (check out Van Rossum's tutorial or something on the web to get a feel).