Python Essential Reference

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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 practicing 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 ...

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Overview

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 practicing 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 introduced into Python since the previous edition
  • 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
  • Improvedorganization 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 the options not covered in the standard documentation
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Though Python is a relatively new programming language, it has quite a significant audience owing to its sensible syntax. An active user of Python since 1996, Beazley provides ample information on the fundamentals of versions 2.0 and 2.1, including syntax, functions, operators, classes, and libraries. This is first and foremost a reference, so he avoids lengthy discussions of Python's superiority. Peppered with good code samples and featuring a companion web site with more extensive pieces, this title should be on hand in larger libraries. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Written for programmers, this reference guide to the Python programming language covers the core language, some 100 modules in the standard library, and the techniques used to extend Python with procedures in C or C++. Coverage expands on and clarifies existing Python documentation, especially for advanced topics such as operating system interfaces, threads, network programming, and Unicode. Beazley is the developer of a software package for integrating C programs with interpreted languages. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735710917
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 6/8/2001
  • Series: Essential Reference Series
  • Edition description: Up Dated to Python 2.1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 396
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David M. Beazley is the developer of SWIG, a popular software package for intergrating C programs with interpreted languages, including Python, Perl, and Tcl. Beazley has been actively involved with the Python community since 1996 and is currently working on scripting language extension-building tools. He spent seven years working in the Theoretical Physics Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he helped pioneer the use of Python with simulation software running on parallel computers. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, where he enjoys tormenting students with insane programming projects in operating systems, networks, and compliers.
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Table of Contents

1 A Tutorial Introduction 1
2 Lexical Conventions and Syntax 13
3 Types and Objects 19
4 Operators and Expressions 43
5 Control Flow 55
6 Functions and Functional Programming 63
7 Classes and Object-Oriented Programming 71
8 Modules and Packages 77
9 Input and Output 83
10 Execution Environment 93
A The Python Library 99
B Extending and Embedding Python 297
C: Summary of Changes 331
Index 333
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Introduction

Introduction

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 succinct. This book assumes that the reader has prior programming experience with Python or other languages such as C or Java. In addition, a general familiarity with systems programming topics (for example, basic operating system concepts, process management, and network programming) may be useful in understanding certain parts of the library reference.

Python is freely available for download at r,ttp://www.python.org.Versions are available for UNIX, Windows, Macintosh, and Java. In addition, this site includes links to documentation, how-to guides, and a wide assortment of extension modules.

What's Inside?

The contents of this book are based on Python 2.1. However, readers shoed 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, most topics are applicable to earlier releases. To a lesser extent, the topics in this book also apply to JPython, an implementation of Python entirely in Java. However, that is not the primary focus of this book.

It should be noted that just as Python is an evolving language, the Second Edition of Python Essential Reference has evolved to make use of new language features and new library modules added in Python 2.1. Rather than merely describing new language features as an afterthought, recently added features have been freely used and incorporated throughout the text. Although no distinction is given to new additions, detailed descriptions of language changes can easily be found online.

Finally, note that Python is distributed with hundreds of pages of reference documentation. The contents of this book are largely based on that documentation, but with a number of enhancements, additions, and omissions. First, this reference presents most of the same material in a 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 additional outside reference material. This is especially true for lowlevel system and networking modules in which effective use of a module normally relies on a myriad of options listed in UNIX manual pages and outside reference material. 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, XML, or the COM extensions, as these topics are beyond the scope of this book and are described in books of their own.

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, IL
6/1/2001
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Foreword

As Python's creator, I'm really happy that this book has appeared. It marks a point in time when Python is becoming a mainstream language, with a rapidly growing community of users. If you consider yourself an (established or aspiring) member of this community, you need neither evangelizing nor proselytizing, and you already know Python well enough to have chosen it as an essential element of your personal toolbox.

This book aims to be your guide on the rest of your journey through the Python world. It documents every detail of the language's syntax and semantics, provides reference documentation and examples for most standard library modules, and even contains a quick reference for writing extension modules. All this information is thoroughly indexed and cross-referenced, and where necessary contains pointers to additional online documentation for obscure details.

You might think that all this information is already available for free on the Python Web site (www.python.org). Sure, it's all there-in fact, I'm certain that the author, my good friend David Beazley, consulted the Web site many times. He would have been a fool not to!

However, with all due respect for the authors of Python's online documentation (myself included!), this book has a huge advantage over the Web site: You can easily take it with you on a trip into the desert. Seriously, David has reorganized and rewritten all the information for maximum clarity, pulled things together from different sources, removed redundancies, clarified ambiguities, added better examples, and so on. He also had a benefit that few readers of the Web site have: direct access to my brain! This summer, David spent a few weeksvisiting CNRI, the research lab in Reston that Python calls home. During this time we had many interesting and fruitful discussions about Python, this book, the meaning of life, southwestern cooking, the joys and pains of teaching computer science to noncomputer scientists, and the Spanish Inquisition. (Remember? Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

I hope that you will enjoy using this book, and that it will serve you well. I also hope that you will continue to enjoy using Python, and that it will serve you well. Python is a great programming language, and I would like to use this opportunity to thank the entire Python community for making Python what it is today. Without the thousands of believers, users, contributors, entrepreneurs, and developers who make up the Python community, my own energy directed toward Python would have dried up long ago. I see this as the essence of open source projects: The energy and creativity of many people with diverse goals together can work miracles!

-Guido van Rossum
Baltimore, MD
9/13/1999

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2001

    Like the title says, an essential reference...

    The author did a great job of including a ton of information in a clear and succinct reference. This is not a book that will teach a newbie all about programming. However, it is perfect for those that have at least some programming experience, whether in Python or some other language, and need a reference while coding in Python.<br> For those new to the language who find themselves wondering 'How do I do that in Python?', the first chapter includes a short (11 page) tutorial that demonstrates using:<br> - Variables<br> - Conditionals<br> - File I/O<br> - Strings<br> - Lists & Tuples<br> - Loops<br> - Dictionaries<br> - Functions<br> - Classes<br> - Exceptions<br> - Modules<br> The tutorial section is nice while getting up to speed with Python's syntax.<br> The rest of the book goes into a bit more detail on rest of the Python's language features with the exception of some of the more inconspicuous ones. Most of the 'raw' information in the book is available on python.org or other online resources, but with the book you get that same information filtered through the author's Python experience plus a lot of concise examples. I've found that what is not covered in this book is better answered by searching the related mailing list archives.<br> As with the other New Riders programming books I own, this one is indexed well, making it easy to find what I am looking for. Also, the size of the book is small enough that it fits nicely in my briefcase and on my desktop.<br> It appears that a lot of thought went into both the content of the book as well as the overall design of the reference, that's why I've given it the highest rating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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