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How did you learn Python?

I was just wondering what the best books were for learning Python.

Which books are good for getting started, and which should be saved for
later, or or not useful except as a reference for the learned?

I have a decent programming background in VB, JavaScript, VBScript,
Net.Data (IBM's macro language), regular expressions, and a teensy bit of
Perl. My point is, I don't want something that is going to explain the basic
programming concepts, but does give a good introduction to Python-specific
things. Then, once I know how to get the job done, I would like a good book
or two at the intermediate to advanced level, to learn how to write really good code.

I understand that resources such as this list and Google searches have all the answers,
but it seems like a more structured tool, such as a book or formal class, would be
of great benefit to me. The other languages I have used were picked up because of the
need to get a job done. As a result, I am able to get the job done, but anyexperienced
coder can show me six more efficient ways to do what I'm doing. I'm new to
Python, and I want to do this one right. I believe that Python will be
around for a good, long time, and it matches my values as an Open-Source/Linux
supporter, while having relevance in the Windows and Mac world, as well.
Plus, it looks like it was designed extremely well, and I'm excited about the
principles I've read about.

Thanks,
Shawn
Jul 18 '05 #1
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5 Replies
Am Fri, 03 Dec 2004 09:54:36 -0500 schrieb Shawn Milo:
I was just wondering what the best books were for learning Python.

Which books are good for getting started, and which should be saved for
later, or or not useful except as a reference for the learned?


Hi,

I learned a lot by reading the python cookbook.

Thomas

--
Thomas Güttler, http://www.thomas-guettler.de/
Jul 18 '05 #2
"Shawn Milo" <Sh*******@runbox.com> writes:
I was just wondering what the best books were for learning Python.

Which books are good for getting started, and which should be saved for
later, or or not useful except as a reference for the learned?

I have a decent programming background in VB, JavaScript, VBScript,
Net.Data (IBM's macro language), regular expressions, and a teensy bit of
Perl. My point is, I don't want something that is going to explain the basic
programming concepts, but does give a good introduction to Python-specific
things. Then, once I know how to get the job done, I would like a good book
or two at the intermediate to advanced level, to learn how to write really good code.

I understand that resources such as this list and Google searches have all the answers,
but it seems like a more structured tool, such as a book or formal class, would be
of great benefit to me. The other languages I have used were picked up because of the
need to get a job done. As a result, I am able to get the job done, but any experienced
coder can show me six more efficient ways to do what I'm doing. I'm new to
Python, and I want to do this one right. I believe that Python will be
around for a good, long time, and it matches my values as an Open-Source/Linux
supporter, while having relevance in the Windows and Mac world, as well.
Plus, it looks like it was designed extremely well, and I'm excited about the
principles I've read about.

Thanks,
Shawn

For those who already know scripting, Beazley's "Python Essential
Reference" is great. It *briefly* shows you how to do in python what
you already know how to do elsewhere. Other people tell me
"Essential" is too terse for learning and they are more comfortable
with Quick Python or Learning Python.

For more idioms and design patterns, see the Python Cookbook for
specific tasks, and then read the "example" or "sample" code with the
various add-on modules you happen to install.

For day in and day out reference, have the python html documentation
on your machine and a bookmark to it. Then read the "Library
Reference" whenever you need to remember the semantics/syntax of a
feature.

--
ha************@boeing.com
6-6M21 BCA CompArch Design Engineering
Phone: (425) 294-4718
Jul 18 '05 #3
Shawn Milo wrote:
How did you learn Python?

I was just wondering what the best books were for learning Python.


If you're open to options besides ink-on-tree, this is how I did it:

I read the official tutorial, trying stuff out in the interactive
interpreter when I didn't get something/had questions. Read the first
couple of sections of the Library Reference (especially the Built-in
objects/functions), skimming when you get to those long lists of
functions/objects. Decided "for language lawyers" was likely a joke;
read/skimmed the Language Reference (turns out it's half a joke). Then I
lurked on comp.lang.python.

I've since picked up a few books & looked at highly recommended on-line
tutorials. For the most part, they mainly repeat the stuff in the
official documentation and the stuff that isn't in there gets brought up
on c.l.py eventually. But YMMV, and you may prefer other tutorials to
the official one.

BTW, I've found the trickiest part of learning python really can't be
taught in books. I mean, it's stated in the books, but the words don't
really help. It's understanding the philosophy behind the way Python
does things, like the object/assignment model and object orientation,
that's key. This understanding comes from experience, and I think it's
something we're all still working on.

P.S. I haven't said yet how much I've appreciated the excellent
documetation the Python crew has put out. It was literally only an
afternoon before I had completed the tutorial and had a good impression
of what this "Python thing" was all about. I've since tried to do the
same with other languages (eg. OCaml & TCL), but haven't had as much
success. Kudos to Guido, Fred, and the others.
Jul 18 '05 #4
"Shawn Milo" <Sh*******@runbox.com> wrote in message news:<ma**************************************@pyt hon.org>...
I was just wondering what the best books were for learning Python.

Which books are good for getting started, and which should be saved for
later, or or not useful except as a reference for the learned?

If you have any interest in using Python for numerical computation
take a look at Python Scripting for Computational Science by Hans
Peter Langtangen. The book is quite expensive, about US $85, but well
worth it in my opinion as it covers just about all of the available
Python resources for numerical computation.
Jul 18 '05 #5
I started with the official tutorial, then Dive Into Python, followed
by Learning Python. I also regularly read the python-tutor mail list.
Jul 18 '05 #6

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