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Python Cookbook 2nd Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596007973
ISBN-10: 0596007973
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alex Martelli spent 8 years with IBM Research, winning three Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards. He then spent 13 as a Senior Software Consultant at think3 inc, developing libraries, network protocols, GUI engines, event frameworks, and web access frontends. He has also taught programming languages, development methods, and numerical computing at Ferrara University and other venues. He's a C++ MVP for Brainbench, and a member of the Python Software Foundation. He currently works for AB Strakt, a Python-centered software house in G teborg, Sweden, mostly by telecommuting from his home in Bologna, Italy. Alex's proudest achievement is the articles that appeared in Bridge World (January/February 2000), which were hailed as giant steps towards solving issues that had haunted contract bridge theoreticians for decades.

Anna Martelli Ravenscroft has a background in training and mentoring, particularly in office technologies. She brings a fresh perspective to Python with a focus on practical, real-world problem solving. Anna is currently pursuing a degree at Stanford University and often pair programs (in Python) with her husband and children.

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 846 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (March 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007973
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Palmer on September 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
As other reviewers have pointed out, this book offers solutions for a broad range of programming problems. There is something for every level from beginner to expert (the most advanced examples were well over my head). The recipes are enhanced by discussions that are mostly very well and clearly written, giving insight into the design and logic of the presented recipes. They thus guide the way to adapting the recipes to your own programs.
So, most of the content of this book is good. 4-5 stars for that.
Bad / Production:
The recipes (so I gather) are mostly edited versions of what is available at ActiveState's online cookbook. However, the edited versions seem not to be available online (at least there is no pointer, and O'Reilly's website does not provide one either). Nor does the book include a CD. For all the hype in the book about this being a book by the Python community for the Python community, this is disappointing. Not even pointers are provided to on-line cookbook recipes that were used as starting points for those printed in this book. This is just bad craftsmanship on the part of O'Reilly. (On a similar note, the back cover promises a foreword by Guido but there isn't one.)
Bad / Content:
Sugar is sweet but bad for your health. So it is with this book - too many recipes add only (syntactic) sugar but no minerals and vitamins. Several 'shortcuts' are just wasted ink and breath - they will save you 1-2 lines of code when writing a function but then you have to import the shortcut implementation and get to make the extra function calls... Where these 'shortcuts' help to avoid some Python gotchas, it would have been more useful to just document the gotcha in question and show how to avoid it in straight Python code without any sugaring.
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Format: Paperback
String handling, money, time, dates. Email, network sockets, cgi, xml. The staples of the cookbook, and Python Cookbook certainly has these. However, interspersed throughout are chapters that seem to have come from at least one other completely different book, a more discursive rumination on Python programming in general. Each chapter begins with a mini essay from a Python luminary, and the discussion of each recipe is fairly extensive.

If you do any scientific or engineering work, you'll know that Python is everywhere on the scientific desktop, providing bindings, scripting and GUI front ends for ancient Fortran/C monstrosities. Reflecting this interest, there is a strong emphasis on performance, with chapters devoted to algorithms and searching and sorting.

Elsewhere, those who have graduated from the plethora of beginner's books, but have been bemused by the complete lack of any intermediate texts, will be pleased to find chapters on Python shortcuts (getting the most out of sequences for the most part) and one on generators and iterators. Futher, there is a chapter on OOP the Python way (including examples of dynamic delegation and design patterns implementation), and one on metaclasses.

This is an extremely useful book, particularly the chapters on using Python's basic collections, which will furnish the reader with some essential idioms for efficient use. However, this, and the OOP chapters would have been better as a separate book. But in lieu of a Thinking in Python or Effective Python, you need this book if you want to do any serious development in Python.

As a cookbook, it has everything you will be expecting as a springboard for exploring the standard library, except for regular expressions.
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Format: Paperback
Full disclosure: I purchased the first edition of this book, and received the second edition as a reviewers copy. I work for Zope Corporation.

The O'Reilly Python Cookbook is a fun resource for Python programmers at most levels. The fun comes in part from the personalities that shine through the introductions and the community-authored recipes gathered from the ActiveState Python Cookbook website. The other fun comes from the smorgasbord of topics and technologies laid out for the reader, encouraging browsing and experimentation. New Python programmers will find recipes that highlight some of the newer features of the Python language, and experienced Python programmers will likely find thought-provoking recipes both peripherally and directly related to their specialties and interests.

Like the first edition, this second edition covers a wide range of topics. Each topic has a usually-interesting introduction by well-known names in the Python community. Some topics are of general interest-shortcuts and algorithms, for instance-while others explore somewhat more specialized topics, such as networks, XML, and databases. Each cookbook recipe I read was impressively short, while often still having enough weight to them to address non-toy usages of the approaches. Many examples can also be used as introductions to the modules and packages they use. Another important similarity to the first edition is that a portion of the proceeds from the book sales are donated to the Python Software Foundation.

This edition of the cookbook does have some significant changes from the previous one. While the first edition addressed Python versions in the 1.x and 2.x line, this one addresses only Python 2.3 and 2.4.
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