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32BitsOnline: Review of O'Reilly's Learning Python

Sep 14, 1999, 16:15 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jim Severino)

"The book is divided into two parts. First comes "The Core Language", describing basic aspects of the language such as syntax, types, and conditional statements. This part of the book is meant to teach the reader necessary but somewhat abstract concepts like control-of-flow and object-oriented design. Second comes "The Outer Layers", which describes a few ways to extend Python in common directions, like through CGI, a Tk GUI, Microsoft COM, and Java Python (JPython). The second section of the book takes the theory learned in the first section and puts it into practice."

"In the Core Language section, the authors give a rock-solid, seamless explanation of the Python language. They first cover the built-in object types (strings, lists, etc.), then go on to describe functions, modules, classes, and exceptions. Here you learn that Python, like most languages, concerns itself at the most basic level with "doing things with stuff". First the things (types) are covered, then the stuff (functions) is brought into the picture. But that's not the end of it. The authors go on to cover in great detail Python's namespace rules, object-oriented capabilities, and other, more advanced facets of the language. By the end of the section, you understand the fundamentals of every facet of the Python language--knowledge you'll need in the second section."

"They say that if you ever want to know something well, you should try teaching it to someone else. Lutz and Ascher are competent teachers (they also teach Python courses), so the first section reads smoothly, progressing from one lesson to the next, with each lesson building on the one before. The book looks slim, but don't confuse that with being lightweight."

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