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on 1 September 2011
I bought this book knowing absolutely nothing about programming. It begins at the very start, with the basics and explains the concept of everything you learn. I haven't finished the book yet, but so far it has been great. It does have a website paired with it, that I thought was a little tricky to navigate, but that is only necissary in downloading python. Even then, you can also go to the python website as well(Which the book clearly explains). It has lots of entertaining programs to write, and includes the code in the book. For example, you start with the simple 'Game Over' program, and go on to Hangman, The Useless Trivia Program and even the three-year-old simulator! There is code for these on the website, but I find it more enjoyable to type it into the computer from the book. Like this you can see how it works, and add or change bits if you want. At the end of each chapter is a set of challenges which you can undertake. They vary, but usually include skills from the chapter. I have noticed that it seems to have a focus on game design and programming.
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on 26 May 2012
This is an excellent book!

I am a teacher with some programming experience and am in the process of setting up a new course, for my school, OCR GCSE Computing. I needed a computer language that was easy for teenagers to learn, cross-plaform (so it can run on Macs & Windows PCs), modern with the ability to introduce object orientated programming and to lead on to other languages such as Java. I have taught Java via the excellent BlueJ IDE and the wonderful book, "Objects First with Java: A Practical Introduction Using BlueJ", but this is a bit advanced for 14 / 15 year olds. I did consider using "Greenfoot" with another great book - "Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot: Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations (Alternative Etext Formats), but the OCR course needs more basic introduction to loops, if statements, and arrays and doesn't strictly need objects. As for Visual Basic - well too much fiddling with interface objects, not enough "pure" programming and besides not cross- platform. So I chose Python.

Next step was to choose a tutorial style textbook, with lots of worked examples, exercises to test the students, a fun learning curve, basics and fundamental concepts explained, practically based and with lots of code to play with. I chose "Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner." I chose well, very well!

This book does everything I wanted it to do. Chapters 1 to 7 cover all the programming requirements of the course. The teaching method of building up programming via coding simple games is great. The end of chapter challenges are just about right and some are quite challenging! Any bright and motivated students can easily move on to the rest of the book which introduces Object Orientated Programming. With this book under their belt they will be very good programmers. If they need or want to switch to Java, no problem - The concepts are very similar.

I did have trouble, initially, trying to download the code examples from the publisher, but went straight to author's site - [...] - and no problem.

So if you want to learn Python yourself, as an absolute beginner, and / or teach Python to absolute beginners this is the book for you and your students. Do not hesitate - buy it. (Oh do get the most recent edition - mine is the 3rd edition - as it is written for Python 3 which is the most up to date version of Python.)
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on 12 October 2011
I've had a great deal of programming experience - I started with punch cards and Fortran!! I've also programmed in a plethora of other languages (BASIC, Pascal, various flavours of C and a few languages I can't even remember). My last serious language was Borland Delphi (Object Pascal), which I loved. My licence was for Delphi 7 - a little out of date for my hardware.

I needed to update to a language that offered similar possibilities to Delphi - OOP, database applications, web applications, GUIs, simulations. and just general programs that would let me calculate difficult stuff like 2+2. I didn't want to pay a giant licence fee so I looked around to see what was available and Python seemed to be what I wanted.

Since I had some programming experience, I actually started with Mark Lutz's book "Programming Python". One of the reviewers of that book had a similar background to me in terms of programming experience. He stated that he had hacked his way through Mark's book (my summary of his words), so I decided to try that. Result...I could have done it, but I too felt that I was having to hack my way through a bit of jungle. So, I decided to take a step back and try a different approach.

Don't get me wrong...I strongly suspect Mark's book is a perfect SECOND Python book and I look forward to giving it a great review when I've worked my way through it (notice I didn't say "hacked my way through it").

So, I bought Michael's book. And I'm delighted with it. It introduces subjects in a simple manner e.g. constructors and private methods in a program that contains just a few lines of code!!??!! OOP programming is difficult for some people to get their head around (I wonder if it's easier for people with no non-OOP background as opposed to us old hacks who didn't even know what an OOP was until we publicly embarrassed ourselves). But it also gets you into the basement of programming - loops, lists, reading and writing files etc etc. Brill!

The writing style is terrific. It's light, humourous (in my part of the world, "humour" comes with a "u" ... or is that AN "u"?) and sometimes a little self-depracating. But it's fun to read...chapters are bite size...the examples are excellent.

And Python is a truly great language in which to program (or "to program in" if you're not a grammar Nazi. Its developer has been classified "Benevolent Dictator for Life". What more can you ask?

One minor criticism...it would be nice to have an exercise project/thread which started early in the book and developed throughout the book. By that I mean a thread which stands alone from the text. The exercises at the end of each chapter modify the author's code or present fairly simple new projects. It would be nice if readers could develop a program which is not related to the text/exercises but builds succesively chapter by chapter. Of course, programmers with experience can do this for themselves, but it might be handy for newbies.

In summary, if you are interested in programming in Python, buy this book. It's a great book.
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on 10 December 2010
This book is very good at delivering to the target audience - people looking to learn programming in Python. Incidentally, Python is a very good language to learn for beginners as it's relatively easy to understand whilst being pretty powerful too.

The book is never boring and the teaches the concepts by example. Using games to teach programming keeps this reader far more interested than the usual boring programs.

Just because it's for beginners doesn't mean you don't learn how to program well.

Highly recommended.
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This is actually among the best teach yourself programming books I've read for any programming language, not just Python.

I've done a fair bit of programming before, in various versions of BASIC, PHP, JavaScript etc., so I was able to skim-read most of the first half of the book, the 'absolute beginner bit' which begins with the first principles of programming such as variables, loops, and functions, just to work out what Python's unique quirks are (above all, it's the first language I've come across where indentation is vitally important rather than just tidy). The section on dictionaries and tuples I had to read carefully, as I found Python's approach to arrays a bit fiddly compared to other languages I've used, but most of it was straightforward.

If you've really never programmed a computer before, I think it would be a fairly steep learning curve- this'll be a good book to choose, but you should take things very slowly, absorb each page carefully, and reinforce what you've learnt by trying the extra programming challenges at the end of each chapter. If you don't do this and just plough through from one chapter to the next, then before long it may start going over your head if you're not careful.

The second half of the book is generally excellent too, and worth reading if you're new to Python, even if you're not a new programmer. Object Orientated Programming is explained and adhered to nicely, and by using some of Python's pre-prepared libraries, you can jump from simple text manipulation to complex-looking Windows-style applications and games without much trouble.

Michael Dawson has a very understandable writing style. Occasional flashes of humour (not too flippant) and some well-chosen example programs that are actually engaging and useful make you want to carry on reading. It's very well ordered and thought-out, and the progression from one challenge to the next, although quite steep in parts, is sensible and just feels right.

I'd recommend this highly both to people new to programming, and programmers new to Python.
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on 5 September 2012
Bought this to help program my Raspberry Pi. I've been writing computer programs for nearly 50 years and have used a variety of good and poor programming manuals. I would certainly recommend this for anyone trying to learn Python. I remember trying to learn this on a computer science course and consider it similar to Pascal in that it is useful for someone learning the fundamentals. It is more relevant now and this book certainly gives some practical examples. The only way to learn is to do it and this book is easy to understand. The only reason most people learned Basic on the BBC B was to be able to play a new game. Sadly most youngsters don't have the patience to type lines of code and debug them when they can just load a much better game on their Xbox. Some however will enjoy the achievement of making their program work. This book is for them.
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on 1 September 2010
I have not read the book cover to cover, but I have scanned through the entire book including the chapter on the final games including animations, and it all looks very friendly to a new programmer like myself, I did not feel overwhelmed in any sense when reading anything in this book.
I have started to properly read the book although I have only progressed half way and the best features about this book are the fact that all the fancy nomenclature is well defined to a newcomer and explained in Layman's terms, and each piece of code and function has a dedicated section with an example program so that we can read about the code (and its uses) and write and execute the files created. There are always tips to prevent anybody falling into traps and losing their minds as we know this is a big thing with programming, and there are many challenges which are a nice touch to every chapter, where you are allowed to logically think through a program and think like a programmer. When you create programs, from challenges, that run successfully there is certainly a massive sense of achievement. I have spent in total 4 days reading this book and I think it is the best £16 inc first class postage that I have spent in a very long time now.

On one negative side, this is not a book with perfect grammar, there are many short sentences and some needn't exist, but as I said before it is very Layman, and the imperfect grammar doesn't affect the structure of the book as each section is concise within a couple of paragraphs and clearly titled.

I would give it 10/10

*Edit* I have now read the full book and the review stands, this is easily the best book for any beginner to python.
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on 16 November 2010
The book, as mentioned in its title, first targets readers who are new to Python and even programming in general. In addition to covering many aspects of the language from basic file manipulations to GUI programming through practical examples (mainly games), the author reminds the basic knowledge and concepts hidden behind, such as variable manipulation, function design or object-oriented programming.

I needed to learn Python as a scientific computing tool. Although I have already got a fairly good background in software engineering, I decided to restart from the basics to understand the full potential of this language. And for this, Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner was definitely a good call.

Be aware that every code examples are written in Python 3 and may need some minor tweaks if you are stuck to a 2.x version like me. Nothing discouraging though.
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on 3 March 2011
Having done programming several years ago I wanted to get back into it and had chosen python. However, I needed something to kickstart my learning. This book has definately fulfilld that objective. The book gives an easy introduction to programming as well as to how to write in python. The focus of writing small programs based on simple games brings the concepts, the author is introducing, to life and reinforces the point of the concept. I'm a little under half way through and can't wait until I've completed reading the book. The exercises at the end of the chapter chalenge you to write your own code based on what you have learnt in that chapter and are rewarding once completed.
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on 17 March 2012
As a fairly novice programmer (and completely new to Python), I found the book very well paced and very clear. Lots of examples with terms explained in an easy to understand fashion without feeling like too much of a hand-holding exercise. Despite having played with Tkinter for a couple of weeks, I found an answer straight away in the book that I failed to find after many many internet searches. I would recommend it to any novice programmer.
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