Learn to Program Using Python: A Tutorial for Hobbyists, Self-Starters, and All Who Want to Learn the Art of Computer Programming

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Overview

Are you a...

  • Systems administrator frustrated by the deficiencies of your existing tools?
  • Web site creator wanting to produce more dynamic content?
  • Computer user with a desire to know what's going on inside the box?

Then Learn to Program Using Python is the book for you.

You will find this book to be an ideal starting point for learning the essentials of computer programming. Assuming no prior knowledge (other than basic computer operation), this unintimidating and clearly written guide introduces you to programming terminology, fundamental concepts, and techniques for writing actual code.

Python is ideal for novice programmers: it is available for free; it has simple syntax but powerful features; it supports lots of programming styles; it runs on many platforms; it has a friendly and helpful user community. This book uses the Python language to teach you the fundamentals of computer programming. Once you master the basic techniques and concepts you learn in this book, you can apply them to any language you choose to work with.

Learn to Program Using Python is based on a popular on-line tutorial that has been expanded and enhanced for this book. It takes you step-by-step through all the essential programming topics. You will learn about:

  • Sequences, branching, and looping
  • Data types and variables
  • Input and output
  • Modular programming
  • Handling files and text
  • Errors
  • Recursion
  • Namespaces
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Event-driven programming
  • Regular expressions
  • Debugging

In addition, the book introduces elements of programming style and offers a look at the thinking and steps involved in designing a software solution. Several sample applications illustrate techniques and ideas in action.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
You'd think there would be tons of programming books for absolute beginners, but there are far fewer good ones than you'd expect. In response, long-time programmer Alan Gauld began his own super-easy Web tutorial -- and it "just growed" into a super-easy book.

Gauld chose Python as his teaching language due to its relatively simple syntax, powerful features, support for diverse programming styles, and availability on every platform from Windows and Mac to Linux. (Oh, yeah, and it's free.) But his real interest is in teaching the mindset and techniques that apply to any programming language.

To that end, he starts by introducing the universal "raw materials of programming" -- variables, data types, strings, and so forth. Gauld shows how to make programs "look" intelligent with loops and IF statements, and how to get input from users. Next, he introduces high-level ideas of modularity that are indispensable to any programmer who wants to build quality code.

From there, it's on to more advanced stuff: recursion, namespaces, simple object-oriented and event-driven programming, regular expressions, and (thankfully) debugging. There's a very short but wonderful chapter on planning software projects, followed by two detailed case studies. If you're an utter novice, this is your book.(Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant and writer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

Booknews
A beginner's guide to programming terminology, fundamental concepts, and techniques for writing code. The author focuses on the four basic constructs of programming<-->sequences, loops, branches, and modules<-->then walks step-by-step through the development of a word counter and a guessing game. The CD-ROM contains Python version 1.5.2 and a Python tutorial. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201709384
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 12/8/2000
  • Series: Programming Languages Series
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 855,394
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Gauld is a professional programmer with a gift for explaining complex concepts. His 25-year career has encompassed numerous programming languages, operating systems, and application development projects, from embedded microcontrollers through mainframe billing systems.

0201709384AB04062001

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Read an Excerpt

Why Write This Book?

I started this tutorial in response to a request from two friends, both of whom were proficient computer users but wanted to go a step further and learn to program. As both had Internet access, I decided to save myself some trouble and find an online tutorial that they could use. Much to my amazement, this quest came up empty—it proved very difficult to find a tutorial that addressed the needs of an absolute beginner. Many tutorials taught specific programming languages, but they all assumed prior programming knowledge. This exercise provided sufficient motivation for me to create my own online tutorial for beginners. (You can see the online version at http://www.crosswinds.net/~agauld/. It's also on the CD-ROM as a Zip file.)

I had assumed that 10 to 20 pages would suffice, but the project grew and grew. Soon I had more than 50 pages of printout and was getting increasing numbers of visitors to my Web site, many of whom asked questions or required clarification of points. Responding to their requests, in turn, improved the quality and expanded the volume still further. Several readers suggested that the tutorial would make a useful book, and this text is the result.

My Background

I am a professional programmer who came to programming from an electronic engineering background. I've been involved with computers and the information technology industry since the mid-1970s, working on everything from embedded microcontrollers to mainframe billing systems. In that time I have used (and continue to use) several computer languages and operating systems.

A Word about Languages

For commercial reasons I have tried to use American English spellings and terminology throughout the book. This choice has led to some interesting discoveries about the differences between how American English and the rest of the English-speaking world do things. For those non-Americans who get irritated at the inexorable pollution of the Queen's English, I proffer my apologies and sympathy, but I hope you buy the book anyway! To U.S. readers, I hope that any remaining Anglicisms are not too offensive or confusing. Please consider them a quaint relic from the past.

Acknowledgments

As ever, this book's existence owes a lot to many people. In particular, I'd like to thank Ray and John, who started the ball rolling, as well as all the folks who visited and commented on the original online tutorial. Also meriting a mention are Matthew Curtin and Herb Sutter, both of whom urged me to "go for it," and Jeff, my boss at work, whose support further encouraged me. Next must come Mike Hendrickson and Heather Peterson, my editors at Addison-Wesley, who were never less than enthusiastic about the project. Finally, I'd like to thank Matt, Dave, Brian, Moira, and Perdita, who have been press-ganged into reviewing various drafts or had ideas bounced off them. I'd also like to thank the many technical reviewers whose comments have helped shape the direction of the book. They all spotted many mistakes; any that remain behind are solely mine. Finally, thanks to my wife, Heather, who patiently whiled away the many hours alone as I gazed haplessly at the PC.

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Table of Contents

Preface.

I. INTRODUCTION.

1. Who, What, and How?
2. What Do I Need?
3. What Is Programming?
4. Getting Started.

II. PROGRAMMING FUNDAMENTALS.

5. Simple Sequences.
6. The Raw Materials.
7. More Sequences and Other Things.
8. Looping, or the Art of Repeating Oneself.
9. Decisions, Decisions.
10. Conversing with the User.
11. Modular Programming.
12. Handling Files and Text.
13. A Touch of Style.
14. Handling Errors.

III. Advanced Topics.

15. Recursion.
16. Namespaces.
17. Object-Oriented Programming.
18. Event-Driven Programming.
19. Regular Expressions.
20. Debugging.
21. Designing a Solution.

IV. Case Studies.

22. Grammar Counter.
23. Guessing Games.
Epilogue.
Appendix A. Installing and Testing Python.
Appendix B. Some Interesting Programming Languages.
Appendix C. Resources.
Glossary.
Index.

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Preface

Why Write This Book?

I started this tutorial in response to a request from two friends, both of whom were proficient computer users but wanted to go a step further and learn to program. As both had Internet access, I decided to save myself some trouble and find an online tutorial that they could use. Much to my amazement, this quest came up empty—it proved very difficult to find a tutorial that addressed the needs of an absolute beginner. Many tutorials taught specific programming languages, but they all assumed prior programming knowledge. This exercise provided sufficient motivation for me to create my own online tutorial for beginners. (You can see the online version at http://www.crosswinds.net/~agauld/. It's also on the CD-ROM as a Zip file.)

I had assumed that 10 to 20 pages would suffice, but the project grew and grew. Soon I had more than 50 pages of printout and was getting increasing numbers of visitors to my Web site, many of whom asked questions or required clarification of points. Responding to their requests, in turn, improved the quality and expanded the volume still further. Several readers suggested that the tutorial would make a useful book, and this text is the result.

My Background

I am a professional programmer who came to programming from an electronic engineering background. I've been involved with computers and the information technology industry since the mid-1970s, working on everything from embedded microcontrollers to mainframe billing systems. In that time I have used (and continue to use) several computer languages and operating systems.

A Word about Languages

For commercial reasons I have tried to use American English spellings and terminology throughout the book. This choice has led to some interesting discoveries about the differences between how American English and the rest of the English-speaking world do things. For those non-Americans who get irritated at the inexorable pollution of the Queen's English, I proffer my apologies and sympathy, but I hope you buy the book anyway! To U.S. readers, I hope that any remaining Anglicisms are not too offensive or confusing. Please consider them a quaint relic from the past.

Acknowledgments

As ever, this book's existence owes a lot to many people. In particular, I'd like to thank Ray and John, who started the ball rolling, as well as all the folks who visited and commented on the original online tutorial. Also meriting a mention are Matthew Curtin and Herb Sutter, both of whom urged me to "go for it," and Jeff, my boss at work, whose support further encouraged me. Next must come Mike Hendrickson and Heather Peterson, my editors at Addison-Wesley, who were never less than enthusiastic about the project. Finally, I'd like to thank Matt, Dave, Brian, Moira, and Perdita, who have been press-ganged into reviewing various drafts or had ideas bounced off them. I'd also like to thank the many technical reviewers whose comments have helped shape the direction of the book. They all spotted many mistakes; any that remain behind are solely mine. Finally, thanks to my wife, Heather, who patiently whiled away the many hours alone as I gazed haplessly at the PC.

0201709384P04062001

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2002

    Can't beat it for the price

    I bought this book because it wasn't the size of the Manhattan Yellow Pages, it came with a CD, and it didn't kill my bank account. That said, I believe that it completes what it sets out to do. This book is really focused on teaching the newbie (like me) programming, using Python as the vehicle. It discusses the concepts and workflow of programming. In the end, it includes a little GUI building using tk...pretty cool. As a SiteBuilder with not much more than HTML, CSS and JavaScript under my belt, I found this to be both helpful and a good deal economically. I wanted something that would help me to understand the basics behind other programming languages (objects, operators, classes, etc). Give it a shot - it worked for me!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    Weak. Very weak.

    As an experienced programmer, I bought this book to teach my son. It tries to teach all the concepts of programming using Python as an example. However, it is not well laid out. It covers, for example, Object Oriented programming before defining functions or even if statements. Also, since it strives to teach programming, not just Python, it covers functions and data types that Python doesn't even support. Trying to do both means it does very poorly at either. Move along, get something else. This one's not worth it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2001

    Need to learn Python in a pinch?

    I needed to learn Python scripting quickly. As an experienced C programmer, I found this book to do just that. It does not waste time with the many details of a programming language that can be found in a good reference book. I would not recommend it if you are looking for a detailed book on Python. The book was not written to be Python specific but rather a general approach to programming.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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