Will "Python in a Nutshell" be too short?

Alex Martelli aleax at aleax.it
Tue Sep 17 17:50:24 EDT 2002

On Tuesday 17 September 2002 20:46, Hamish Lawson wrote:
> O'Reilly doesn't yet list the forthcoming "Python in a Nutshell" by Alex

It's being final-edited right in these days.

> Martelli, but according to Amazon.com's page for the book, it will have
> 400 pages. Is that indeed the plan? I know that O'Reilly aims to keep fat
> out of its books, and that Alex is striving to be comprehensive yet
> concise, but I worry that the book's proposed length will simply be too
> short to cover the material I'm hoping will be included.

That was my original dream.  I think that, to some extent, the usefulness
of a book can be inversely proportional to its bulk.  However, the need to
cover a wide variety of subjects, AND to provide tutorial info and examples
as well as reference info, bids fair to put paid to my dreams.  I fear the
book will be closer to 600 pages than to 400:-(.

> I regularly consult David Beazley's "Python Essential Reference", but the
> usefulness to me of this otherwise excellent book is compromised by the
> number of (platform-independent and not obsolescent) standard modules and
> packages that had to be left out of the book's 380 pages (htmllib,
> telnetlib, urllib2, CongigParser, unittest, tkinter, xml, etc.).

Out of those you list, I don't cover CongigParser (non-existing) nor even
ConfigParser (existing, but I had to weigh its importance vs a zillion
others).  The number of pages I had to devote, in particular, to tkinter and
xml, still boggles my mind -- yet, I do see that they add to the book's
usefulness more than they take away from it.

> Many of us were hoping that "Python in a Nutshell" would not only be a
> comprehensive reference of pretty much all of the modules in the standard
> library that aren't obsolescent or platform-specific, but would also
> cover some of the most popular third-party libraries - e.g. DB-API, PIL,
> mxDateTime, Numeric, win32all, wxPython, mod_python, ReportLab.

I cover some of these, but not nearly all -- DBAPI yes, PIL no, mxDateTime
yes, Numeric yes (and then some!), win32all no (_no_ platform-specific 
stuff!), and so on.  And after mature deliberation I decided I just *had* to
cover many you don't mention, such as twisted.internet, Cheetah, Jython's
interfacing to Java libraries, etc.

> My congratulations to Alex and O'Reilly if they reckon they can somehow
> manage to fit this all into just 400 pages; but if this won't be
> possible, as I worry must be the case, then may I make a plea for the
> book's length to be reconsidered. It would be good to have a one-stop
> Python reference book that would be a suitable companion to the
> task-oriented "Python Cookbook" - I'm hoping "Python in a Nutshell" can
> still be that book.

I think you'll be happier with the book size than I'll be -- even though
not fully satisfied of course (1000 pages would apparently not suffice
for your desires, definitely not when including examples and discursive/
tutorial coverage of at least some parts).  _My_ personal dream is more
of "SQL in a Nutshell"... the most value-packed 300 pages I've ever seen!
But I won't reach it in "Python in a (cocoa)Nut-shell" - that's for sure!-)

> By comparison, O'Reilly's "Perl in a Nutshell" is 800 pages and has the

I used it throughout as my bete noire:-).  Py iaN won't be THAT large --
not QUITE that large -- though it will maybe end up closer to it than
to my dream 400 pages.


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