[Chicago] How did you learn Python?

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Mar 7 01:35:59 CET 2009

On Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 10:50 AM, Garrett Smith <g at rrett.us.com> wrote:

<< SNIP >>

> To really, really grow in Python, I suggest reading code written by
> seasoned (10+ years experience) developers. The safest and  easiest bet,
> I think, is read modules in the standard library. In my experience,
> reading code written by leaders in a development community is, hands
> down, the best way to get up to speed on not just the language, but the
> Tao of its ecosystem.

<visitor from="Portland" content="more babbling">

I agree for the most part although your 10+ yrs experienced developer
(me one of them) will often include refugees or passers by from
another language (xBase in my case) and this will color their style,
e.g. it's often fairly easy to recognize a "Java influenced" Python

Also, Guido has mentioned the Standard Library being ripe for a
recasting in 3.x versions, was it grew up as sort of a hodge-podge
from the get go, uneven in terms of code quality (a really good
hodge-podge though, is "the batteries" in "batteries included" -- the
downfall of many an elegant language is no hooks to "reality" whereas
Python has always had plenty of real world glue, more every day).

Over on edu-sig (a Python list), going back to the early beginnings,
you'll find Tim Peters giving excellent pointers.  Python is one of
those languages wherein its possible to display cleverness over and
above what's really needed for the task (i.e. allows showing off) but
the mark of a strong coder is she aims for above average but not out
of the ballpark in terms of what others would be comfortable using

I'd say the next chapter after OO in my story (Spaghetti Code Wild
West. Structured/Civilized, thinking in Objects....) is a combination
of FOSS and XP (eXtreme Program), especially the part about partners,
needing to make sense to at least one other person.  These lessons
come from GNU/Linux world, where intense collaboration among strangers
has been the name of the game.

>From an HR point of view (human resources) we're interested in ending
the "private castle" approach to coding, where one indispensable
individual builds a "fortress of solitude" around code no one else can
decipher.  That's a recipe for disaster and Python, in the hands of
professionals, doesn't easily "black hole" in that way (just stay away
from gratuitous use of metaclasses and you'll be fine (smile)).

A language like J (an APL spin off) or even Perl, might out of the box
tempt a newbie into a solo coding style, but within strong IT cultures
that promote XP and/or related practices, such "implosion" is
generally avoided, using the very tools developed for FOSS in the
first place e.g. Launchpad etc.

Indeed, the best FOSS projects, such as Python itself, Django, Pocoo,
wxPython... Numpy are so successful precisely because the code is
amenable to "handing on" i.e. doesn't bottleneck in the mind of some
"genius" (so thank you Tim Peters, for encoding the Zen of Python when
it mattered -- helped keep us on track).



>> James Snyder wrote:
>>> This discussion makes me curious about something though...
>>> 1. How many people here started as self-taught Pythonistas vs.
>>> learning it from some sort of course/workshop/guided instruction?
>>> 2. Regardless of how you got started, have you taken some
>>> instruction?  Was it useful/helpful?
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