[Chicago] How did you learn Python?

James Snyder jbsnyder at fanplastic.org
Mon Mar 9 20:47:32 CET 2009

On Mar 6, 2009, at 12:50 PM, Garrett Smith wrote:

> I like a good book to get things started. IMO, the first chapter of  
> Dave
> Beazley's book is the best introductory material I've seen on any
> language. I'm biased toward brevity though.
> http://books.google.com/books?id=kQom0WiUbZQC

I'm quite fond of that book as well.

I'd not checked out Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python before, but it  
sounds like it has quite a bit of popularity here on the list.  It's  
always nice to have searchable reference materials, too.

> Python's a really, really straight forward programming language. The
> hard parts are in how you use it -- but, duh.

Right, If you have used a programming language before, you can figure  
out enough to be dangerous with it in minutes.  Again, for the latter  

> To get a real handle on the language, I'd recommend picking a  
> problem of
> interest in and working on it. This could be a simple web site or a
> screen scraping thingy or quote of the day engine or whatever. Dive  
> in,
> fiddle around, drink and have fun.
> E.g. Josh Cronemeyer (list frequenter) dove into Python and wrote a
> console history logging service on Google App Engine. Now that's the  
> way
> to freakin' do it!

This is key as well.  I don't think I've ever gotten very far with a  
language when I started with the thought "hey, here's a book on that  
hot new language xyz, lets learn a few examples..." However, when I've  
had a project I want to make work, it's a great way to motivate  
learning more about the language.

Personally, I like using new projects as excuses to learn new modules,  
tools, languages, etc..  Of course, there's always to danger of  
picking something that ends up causing things to take way longer, but  
one can usually

> 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.

I think I'll have to take up the suggestion for reading through the  
standard library.

>> 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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James Snyder
Biomedical Engineering
Northwestern University
jbsnyder at fanplastic.org
ph: (847) 644-2322

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