I'd like to learn Python

Kow Kuroda kkuroda at crl.ucsd.edu
Mon Aug 12 06:58:25 CEST 2002

On Sunday, August 11, 2002, at 08:51 AM, krc wrote:

> I'd like to learn Python. I have very little prior programming
> experience, so please view me as a complete newbie to programming.
> I'm looking for a book or two. I don't want to buy the first book on
> Python I happen to stumble over: I reckon there's both good books and
> bad books on the subject, and I want a good one that teaches me good
> programming habits. If you could point me in direction of such, I'd be
> very thankful!

I was exaclty like you a few months ago, and I guess I didn't get so far, 
but I think I can tell something from my experience.

I started learning programming just a few months ago, virtually from 
scratch. I didn't know any programming language. I've read and am still 
reading a few books on Python as follows:

1) Learning Program with Python
2) Think like a Computer Scientist (online)
3) Learning Python
4) Python 2.1 Bible
5) Python: Visual Quick Guide

Out of these, I found 1) most accessible, 5) very handy and useful, if not 
explanatory, as a quick desktop reference. Actually, these two would be 
very helpful to get a very schematic and practical view of programming, or 
what programming is all about.

3) and 4) looked totally incomrehensible to me, at first. Most of the 
language they speak was virtually gibberish --- What is namespace???, What 
is object, after all??? Why file objects are different from opened files??? 
What's method??? How is it different from function?? Honestly, I had a very 
hard time to questions of this kind. But as I proceed, they are making 
sense more and more. In this process, 3) helped me a lot, but I personally 
find it slightly too conceptual, feeling I was missing more examples to get 
my head cleared. I say this because I'm a kind of person who understands 
through examples. Now, I'm struggling with 4), and find it very explanatory.
  This book has a lot of examples --- I guess it has more code than text --- 
and this was what overwhelmed me at first. But it turned out most examples 
contain revealing details that I was looking for in practical coding. Also,
  4) has a very wide coverage, and in this sense, it would be comprable with 
Programmnig Python rather than 3).

To me, the hardest part in learning Python has been with classes, 
implicitly or explicitly. It seems that classes are a feature that are so 
deeply embedded at the core of Python, and this is exactly what makes it 
really tough to get an "I got it" feeling with Python without feeling good 
with classes. (Actually, I'm still looking for resources that facilitate me 
to get a solid grasp at OOP in Python. Please help me out if you know any.

Hope this helps.


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