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Hello! Python Paperback – 23 Feb 2012
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About the Author
Anthony Briggs first started programming on the Commodore 64 back in 1984 and has been a Python programmer since early 2000. He's currently working for Ramble Communications in Melbourne, Australia. Previously, he worked on a core booking system for a travel firm in Australia and Canada, eventually becoming lead developer overseeing the entire project.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
However, all I can say is that I am just very disappointed.
I waited almost two years and didn't get the material that was advertised and promised - you can read my post called "Delayed" noted below.
No Python 3, one chapter on Pyglet that was lacking, and 400 pages I can't utilize as a reference.
The Good: It's a good introduction to some of the more popular libraries available for python. The topics of testing and user exceptions are really good, but those doesn't justify reading the full text. I appreciate the building block approach of developing a program and making it better (Hunt the Wumpus). The best point is that Anthony Briggs shows Python's ability to work on Windows, Mac, and Linux
The Bad: It's really an introduction intermediate book vs a beginner book. Like the other reviews have mentioned, this book doesn't cover Python syntax. As noted above, he wrote the book using Python 2.6 vs. 3.X which is unacceptable. The author expects the reader to use the Help command to figure things out. Because the reader hasn't been taught python commands and syntax, the program breakout formations are difficult to comprehend unless you have some previous background with python programming. The explanation of Classes is just not good at all. The chapters are extremely long without break points and the comics don't really help enough to keep up the interest level. Finally, the topic flow and doesn't really make sense
The Ugly: The author admits that he "borrows" and "steals" ideas and code that the reader could Google (which I recommend). The author starts out with developing and modifying a game program to develop various concepts and then just switches gears to a business vantage and then tries to go back into game development. It would have been better if he had stuck with games and did another book with the business applications.
Borrow this book from the library and save your money for better books.
As mentioned in previous reviews, I recommend "Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Edition" by Al Sweigart which is written in Python 3 (and available as a free PDF) or "Game Programming: The L Line, The Express Line to Learning" (The L Line: The Express Line To Learning) by Andy Harris even though it's written with Python 2.
I think that the author was striving for examples that did more than print out "hello world!". Unfortunately, he chose examples that highlighted the complexity associated with any computer language syntax. Combine that with ultra brief explanations of what the reader is seeing, and you get a book with an extremely high frustration rate.
Result = me giving up and moving on to other books
My alternative recommendations
1) Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner, 3rd Edition Michael Dawson
Offers a very gentle intro with all of the syntax explained right there in the book.
2) Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science 2nd Edition John Zelle
Offers an intro college course exposure
Plus the end code is available to help, and there is an accompanying forum for problem solving.
But before you buy it, I'd have to agree that complete beginners are going to have to be prepared for a little extra thinking with it. Possibly it could do with some polishing to help make it a little easier for that category.
Not sure if it was aimed at that market; there is another Manning book for complete beginners called 'Hello World'.
I guess its the cartoony cover which makes it appear a bit more beginner friendly.
Nonetheless, its quite good for those who are appreciate the frustrations of coding, and want to start using Python in some pretty useful little applications (eg. building your own app for Django, or interacting with the web).
For example, there's a fair bit of code handed to you piece by piece, which assumes a bit of comfort with what was going on.
I found sometimes I had to get the final code to make sure I was on track, which takes a little bit of extra work.
One example, the Todo's application in Chapter 4 which consists of a program and test program.
I was scratching around sometimes wondering where the code was meant to go.
I then opened the full code, and had the realisation that each function in the test code was prefaced by 'test_'
Actually quite simple, and I can understand why the author overlooked that.
But to spoon feed new aspiring pythonistas, it probably would have been helpful to add such comments as:
"from here on, each function that begins with test_ goes into the test_todo.py module, while the functions without test_ go into the program todo.py module".
Possibly also some more code pictures in the book to show the progression as modules are being built up.
Dealing with the constant bugs that appeared, generally through syntax errors, also took a bit of time.
But again, perservering with it brought me a lot more comfort with what was going on.
Eg, introducing Print statements throughout to see what the variables were returning was useful, and probably a screenshot or two could be used to help explain a bit more clearly to beginners to help them .
Once I took the time to push through those little inconveniences, the resultant examples were quite enjoyable and the learning accelerated quite a bit.
Anyway, if the next edition takes into account some of the feedback for beginners and makes it a little more digestible that would be welcome. Nonetheless, in the meantime its a good book that I'm enjoying...just took a bit of extra perseverance (and the discovery of the accompanying forum, not overly active but nonetheless a source of additional guidance).