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Programming Python Paperback – 2 Sep 2006

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"It's the industry standard publication on Python, but don't be put off if you're a beginner. It takes a lot of shelf space, but it's worth it!" .NET, February 2007

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Powerful Object-Oriented Programming

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Skelton on 30 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is 1552 pages, and weighs 2.5 kgs. Despite that, nearly every single attempt I've made to look something up in the index has met with failure. Much of the bulk of the book comprises several chapters devoted entirely to python scripts the author has written and clearly feels very proud of. Screen shots, full source code listings, the works. Sadly none of it is of any great educational value.

For much of the rest of the book he relentlessly vomits up the usual unending stream of tired old Monty Python lines, interspersed with his own wildly hilarious observations like "use the Source, Luke!", "I am lost at C" and, most unforgivable of all, "Roses are Red, Violets Are Blue; Lists Are Mutable, and So Is Set Foo". It's like he copied all his section headings from t-shirt slogans on sysadmins at a beer festival.

I was fortunate enough to have pretty much every book on Python going bought for me by my company, and whilst Lutz is by no means the worst offender, he does have by far and away the lowest signal to noise ratio. To be fair it's not all Lutz's fault, and O'Reilly's relentless nosedive into medicrity is to blame. In the old days, he'd have been edited mercilessly and been given a decent index, and a reasonably useful 400 or so page book would have resulted. As it is, the reader is left to do that job themselves from Lutz's raw materials.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Definitely not a "get started quick" guide 8 July 2009
By Joshua Davies - Published on
Format: Paperback
Wow. I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's enormous. It took me almost a year to go through the whole thing, although I did stop and work through every single example. On the other hand, like "Learning Python", there are a lot of sidetracks that seem targeted at beginners which I felt could have easily been left out.
This book should be considered volume 2 of "Learning Python". "Learning Python" (or "volume 1") covers the core Python language in quite a bit of detail, but doesn't talk much about the library. "Programming Python", in turn, covers the Python library, but doesn't talk about the syntax of the language (you're expected to know all that already).
Even with 1500 pages, it would be impossible to do justice to the _entire_ Python library, so a useful subset is covered. The book is actually divided into seven subsections, and sections 2 (System Programming), 3 (GUI Programming), 4 (Internet Programming), and 5 (Tools and techniques) could each have legitimately been a book in their own right. Part 6 (Integration) was a bit weak compared to the others - it covered only two chapters, and was the only section of the book that included incomplete examples. Of course, Parts 1 & 7 were an introduction and an epilogue.
In terms of the Python standard library, "String Services", "File and Directory Access", "Data Persistence", "Generic Operating System Services", "Interprocess Communcation and Networking", "Internet Protocols and Support", and "Graphical User Interfaces" were covered indepth. "Internet Data Handling" and "Structured Markup Tools" were both touched on, but not really examined. Other Python-related topics such as Jython, Zope, ZODB and SWIG were discussed as well, along with examples.
The main strength of this book was its examples. I prefer to manually type each source example and run them, rather than downloading them from a web site - although it takes longer to work through the book that way, I end up retaining quite a bit more. For that reason, I'm frustrated by programming books that include incomplete examples (or at least not enough that I can reasonably fill in the blanks). Fortunately, this wasn't such a book - until the very last chapter, all of the examples were complete, although quite a few of them build on previous examples (sometimes a bit pointlessly, such as his GUIMixin "framework"). Chapter 15, for example, is pretty much nothing but a listing of a complete, working e-mail GUI client - I was actually able to use this to check my own e-mail (POP only... but still!)
Section 3 on GUI programming is the best coverage on TKinter available anywhere. This section alone is worth the price of the book, if you're ever going to touch TKinter. He doesn't cover Tix, unfortunately, but I believe that every single TKinter widget is discussed and demonstrated in example code. PMW and wxPython are mentioned, but just as in, "they exist" - this books perspective on GUI programming is TKinter only. Still, that's plenty to fill up 5 chapters.
This _is_ a good, useful, book - I got a lot more out of this than I got out of "Learning Python", but it can be a bit meandering at times - for its volume, I expected it to cover a lot more ground, although what the author does decide to cover, he covers in exquisite detail, including historical perspectives, real-world "war stories" and workable examples.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A great resource for the python programmer. 4 Nov. 2008
By Jeremiah D. Dodds - Published on
Format: Paperback
The only thing I regret about buying this book is not getting the hardcover version - it's a huge, comprehensive book.

It's got the best section on GUI programming in python that I've seen so far, and all the examples given throughout the book are practical, useful thing - unlike a lot of other programming books that only give you proofs-of-concept.

If you're already comfortable with python, and are looking to solidify your knowledge of it to a great degree, this is the book for you.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Good enough I suppose 15 Feb. 2008
By HugeStakkaBoFan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One thing I really wish O'Reilly would have made clear on the cover is the version of Python which was current at the time of publication. In this case, it's 2.4, so if you're looking for information on things like function decorators or the new generator abilities that 2.5 brought along, you're going to be as disappointed as I was.

Aside from the fact that some of the information is dated, it's still a good overview of practical solutions to realistic problems which can be solved in the language. It does tend to spend way too much time developing TkInter GUIs (which I do not personally care about one bit) and overusing the usual array of extremely unfunny Monty Python references (which I personally stopped caring about around 1984). If you cut out both of these things the book would probably require about half as much paper per copy, and it'd be a good deal more digestible to boot. There's also lots of Windows-specific silliness and the author continues to operate under the assumption that OS X does not exist (every mention of the Mac platform refers to information that hasn't been accurate for nearly 10 years at this point).
Well Done ! 2 Feb. 2011
By A. ANGURAJ - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is the ultimate Pythonic reference book, the best fit to this role I have yet seen. You will keep this book in the most cherished spot on your book shelf, or else right at your side on your computer desk, because you can almost instantly find any topic on which you need to brush up, in the midst of a programminng project.

It covers the core language as well as the most popular libraries and extension modules. It is difficult to choose any one portion of the book to highlight for extra praise, as all topics are treated so well. It is a complete book, the new definitive book about Python.
Completely useless for a beginner. 27 Oct. 2012
By Eric - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the worst O'Reilly book I have ever owned. Unlike the other O'Reilly books Learning the Bash Shell, and Programming Perl, this book provides no information whatsoever for a beginner to learn Python. There are no chapters explaining the basics of syntax, flow control, variables, built in functions or subroutines. It provides little snippets of information on advanced topics of no use to a beginner than goes on to provide programming examples about a completely different topic the very next page. This book assumes that you are already completely proficient in programming python.
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