- Paperback: 648 pages
- Publisher: Sams; 3 edition (March 2, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0672328623
- ISBN-13: 978-0672328626
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Python Essential Reference (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition
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For anyone who programs in Python, David M. Beazley's Python Essential Reference, Second Edition will serve as a capable and exceptionally competent guide to current Python syntax and library modules. Concise, yet authoritative, this book sets a high standard as a one-volume reference to this powerful object-oriented programming language.
Although the author claims that this title is not really a tutorial, the first 100 pages actually provide an excellent guide to the basics of Python as a language. Geared especially to the experienced programmer seeking to see what's different (and potentially better) about Python, sections on the language itself will let you ramp up on the basic and advanced topics. Short sections with code excerpts that show off essential language features will help you learn or enhance your knowledge of Python quickly. Standout sections here include excellent coverage of object-oriented features, like "special methods" that will let you add custom classes to Python that are just as flexible as built-in classes.
The heart of this book is the 250-page reference section. The author concentrates on all current Python modules (eschewing deprecated or obsolete APIs). Starting with basic modules for Python services and operating system functions, and including handling strings and math functions, the author explains and illustrates each module with short sample code, along with a full listing of APIs. Sections on Python's impressive support for virtually all networking protocols (including sockets, HTTP, FTP, and e-mail) are a standout and will arguably justify the cost of this title for many Python developers. Later modules look at undocumented functions, plus there's an in-depth guide to integrating Python and C code. (This material can even help you build custom Python modules.)
With a remarkably clear presentation style, this well-organized reference offers a compact and worthy guide to today's Python that's sure to meet the needs of many working programmers. --Richard Dragan
- Reference (and expert-level tutorial) for Python 2.1
- Quick overview of Python essentials (including basic syntax, reserved words, and operators)
- Types and objects (including built-in types, modules, classes, and special methods)
- Operators and expressions (operations on numbers, sequences and dictionaries, type conversion, conditionals and loops)
- Control flow
- Functions and functional programming idioms
- Classes and object-oriented programming tips
- Modules and packages
- Input and output (including files and persistence)
- The Python execution environment
- Python library reference
- Python services (including garbage collection and "pickling")
- Mathematical functions
- Data management and object persistence APIs
- Operating system services (including Mac OS and Windows-specific functions)
- Python threads
- Network programming (including HTTP, FTP, NNTP, and other Web protocols, socket programming, retrieving URLs)
- Internet data handling and encoding (including mail attachment and MIME support)
- Restricted execution and security modules
- Undocumented modules
- Extending and embedding Python and C
- Summary of changes between Python 1.6, 2.0, and 2.1
From Library Journal
Though Python is a relatively new programming language, it has quite a significant audience owing to its sensible syntax. An active user of Python since 1996, Beazley provides ample information on the fundamentals of versions 2.0 and 2.1, including syntax, functions, operators, classes, and libraries. This is first and foremost a reference, so he avoids lengthy discussions of Python's superiority. Peppered with good code samples and featuring a companion web site with more extensive pieces, this title should be on hand in larger libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As someone who was already familiar with C/C++ and Perl, but wanting to learn Python, the Python Essential Reference was exactly what I was looking for. Yes, most of the information contained in the book is available in the Python reference documents, but not collected in one place.
In addition to adding examples from his own experience, David Beazley has done an excellent job in concisely summarizing the built-in features of the language as well as providing a nicely indexed library reference.
While this book may not be immediately useful for someone looking specifically for a language tutorial, beginning or advanced Python programmers will get useful information from this book for much longer than most tutorial style books.
Peter Leopold's pompous 'official' review is off the mark in a variety of ways. For instance, the reason there aren't comparisons to other languages is precisely that this is _reference_, not advocacy or tutorial.
Leopold's ill-tempered criticisms of the language itself are hardly relevant to the quality of the book; they also happen to be incorrect. Python _does_ support bytecode-only distribution. Python _is not_ a cleansed version of Perl. Python _is not_ only for quick and dirty projects.
Python _does_ provide the abstraction mechanisms and libraries to solve serious problems in a maintainable way, as long as execution efficiency isn't paramount.
For those new to the language who find themselves wondering "How do I do that in Python?", the first chapter includes a short (11 page) tutorial that demonstrates using:
- File I/O
- Lists & Tuples
The tutorial section is nice while getting up to speed with Python's syntax.
The rest of the book goes into a bit more detail on rest of the Python's language features with the exception of some of the more inconspicuous ones. Most of the "raw" information in the book is available on python.org or other online resources, but with the book you get that same information filtered through the author's Python experience plus a lot of concise examples. I've found that what is not covered in this book is better answered by searching the related mailing list archives.
As with the other New Riders programming books I own, this one is indexed well, making it easy to find what I am looking for. Also, the size of the book is small enough that it fits nicely in my briefcase and on my desktop.
It appears that a lot of thought went into both the content of the book as well as the overall design of the reference, that's why I've given it the highest rating.
I bought this book along with O'Reilly's Learning Python, intending to use L.P. for an introduction and then refer to the Essential Reference. However, I quickly learned that Beazley's book was a better way to learn the points of the language I needed to know to begin using it. After an initial skim through the O'Reilly book, I barely opened it through the rest of my self-tutorial of Python. The Python Essential Reference (in conjunction with occasional on-line look-ups in the Python reference files) were all I needed to get going.
If you're a fairly experienced programmer (particularly in Perl or C/C++), I can't see any reason to buy any other book than this.