Python Essential Reference

Python Essential Reference

4.7 6
by David Beazley

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Python Essential Reference is the definitive reference guide to the Python programming language — the one authoritative handbook that reliably untangles and explains both the core Python language and the most essential parts of the Python library.

Designed for the professional programmer, the book is concise, to the point, and highly


Python Essential Reference is the definitive reference guide to the Python programming language — the one authoritative handbook that reliably untangles and explains both the core Python language and the most essential parts of the Python library.

Designed for the professional programmer, the book is concise, to the point, and highly accessible. It also includes detailed information on the Python library and many advanced subjects that is not available in either the official Python documentation or any other single reference source.


Thoroughly updated to reflect the significant new programming language features and library modules that have been introduced in Python 2.6 and Python 3, the fourth edition of Python Essential Reference is the definitive guide for programmers who need to modernize existing Python code or who are planning an eventual migration to Python 3. Programmers starting a new Python project will find detailed coverage of contemporary Python programming idioms.


This fourth edition of Python Essential Reference features numerous improvements, additions, and updates:

  • Coverage of new language features, libraries, and modules
  • Practical coverage of Python's more advanced features including generators, coroutines, closures, metaclasses, and decorators
  • Expanded coverage of library modules related to concurrent programming including threads, subprocesses, and the new multiprocessing module
  • Up-to-the-minute coverage of how to use Python 2.6’s forward compatibility mode to evaluate code for Python 3 compatibility
  • Improved organization for even faster answers and better usability
  • Updates to reflect modern Python programming style and idioms
  • Updated and improved example code
  • Deep coverage of low-level system and networking library modules — including options not covered in the standard documentation


Product Details

Pearson Education
Publication date:
Developer's Library
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Barnes & Noble
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29 MB
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THIS BOOK IS INTENDED TO BE A CONCISE REFERENCE to the Python programming language. Although an experienced programmer will probably be able to learn Python from this book, it's not intended to be an extended tutorial or a treatise on how to program. Rather, the goal is to present the core Python language, the contents of the Python library, and the Python extension API in a manner that's accurate and concise. This book assumes that the reader has prior programming experience with Python or another language such as C or Java. In a addition, a general familiarity with systems programming topics (for example, basic operating system concepts and network programming) may be useful in understanding certain parts of the library reference.

Python is freely available for download at Versions are available for almost every operating system, including UNIX, Windows, Macintosh, and Java. In addition, the Python website includes links to documentation, how-to guides, and a wide assortment of third-party software.

The contents of this book are based on Python 2.4. However, readers should be aware that Python is a constantly evolving language. Most of the topics described herein are likely to be applicable to future versions of Python 2.x. In addition, much of the material is applicable to earlier releases. To a lesser extent, the topics in this book also apply to alternative Python implementations such as Jython (an implementation of Python in Java) and IronPython (an implementation of Python for .NET). However, those implementations are not the primary focus.

Just as Python is an evolving language, the third edition ofPython Essential Reference has evolved to make use of new language features and new library modules. In fact, since the publication of the second edition, Python has undergone a dramatic transformation involving significant changes to core parts of the language. In addition, a wide variety of new and interesting features have been added. Rather than discussing these changes as a mere afterthought, the entire text has been updated to reflect the modern state of Python programming. Although no distinction is given to new features, detailed descriptions of language changes can be found at

Finally, it should be noted that Python already includes thousands of pages of useful documentation. The contents of this book are largely based on that documentation, but with a number of key differences. First, this reference presents most of the same information in a much more compact form, with different examples, and alternative descriptions of many topics. Second, a significant number of topics in the library reference have been expanded to include outside reference material. This is especially true for low-level system and networking modules in which effective use of a module normally relies on a myriad of options listed in manuals and outside references. In addition, in order to produce a more concise reference, a number of deprecated and relatively obscure library modules have been omitted. Finally, this reference doesn't attempt to cover large frameworks such as Tkinter,

In writing this book, it has been my goal to produce a reference containing virtually everything I have needed to use Python and its large collection of modules. Although this is by no means a gentle introduction to the Python language, I hope that you find the contents of this book to be a useful addition to your programming reference library for many years to come. I welcome your comments.

David Beazley
Chicago, Illinois
November 27, 2005

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

David M. Beazley has been programming Python since 1996. While working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, he helped pioneer the use of Python with scientific computing software. Through his company, Dabeaz LLC, he provides software development, training, and consulting related to the practical use of dynamic programming languages such as Python, Ruby, and Perl, especially in systems programming. He is author of all previous editions of Python Essential Reference, and was contributing author of Steve Holden’s Python Web Programming.  He is a member of the Python Software Foundation.

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Python Essential Reference (Developer's Library Series) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Straight to the point, no B.S. Python Desktop reference.
Robert Hancock More than 1 year ago
I have programmed in Python for over 6 years and I still consult this book. The best book on Python bar none. It is worth the price just for the section on multiprocessing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book after listening to a talk by Beazley on Python's Global Interpreter Lock. I was impressed with the clarity of his presentation and decided to buy the book. The book covers a broad range of topics and is useful as a reference. The writing is generally very good. I give it 4 stars only because of two minor complaints. (1) The formatting of the programs is not as pretty as it can be, and sometimes incorrect (Python programs depend on indentation, so dear publisher: please be careful with typesetting code). (2) I wish some of the advanced topics could be covered in more detail, e.g., method resolution order, properties, etc. (material in Chapter 7). Also, topics like multiprocessing deserve more in-depth treatment than is given in the book. For a book like this, more basic stuff can be omitted to make room for the advanced material. Also, the book has almost no diagrams, which would be tremendously helpful in explaining how things are implemented and how accordingly to write efficient code.
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