Feedback wanted on programming introduction (Python in Windows)

Xavier Ho contact at
Fri Oct 30 13:41:38 CET 2009

Alf, I kindly urge you to re-read bartc's comments. He does have a good
point and you seem to be avoiding direct answers.

On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 1:17 PM, Alf P. Steinbach <alfps at> wrote:

> * bartc:
>> You say elsewhere that you're not specifically teaching Python, but the
>> text is full of technical details specific to both Python
> Yes. A programming language is required to do programming. Can't do without
> it, sorry.
As an author of a programming textbook, you have to make the reader
comfortable in coding before he/she can do something useful, or play around
with. When I read through yours, my impression was a lot of terms, and the
examples don't seem to be particular interesting. They do what they do -
practical feedbacks such as what type a literal is, but they don't "teach
the student how to self-teach." Try to grant imaginations. I think you can
use a lot more examples that are actual programs, maybe 4-10 lines long, and
actually does something interesting. It'll allow the reader more familiar
seeing a code snippet that works, and in turn having them used to the syntax
and so on. Complete examples are one of the best ways to teach.

 not much actual programming!

Hm. There's /only/ programming in there and nothing else so far.

I think bartc means you don't have "actual examples". Sure you have a lot of
"examples", but they don't do anything. As a self-taught Python programmer,
I only read /interesting/ tutorials and/or examples. I find your text filled
with terms I didn't need to know until later, which I simply googled about.

That reminds me a good point: allow the student to explore. Don't try to
tell them everything, but show them the way. Once they start walking,
they'll see new things for themselves.

 Python has a lot of baggage which is OK if that's what's going to be used,
> but otherwise is unnecessary confusion: where to put the program code (typed
> in live or in a file, or some combination); whether to call the file .py or
> .pyw; the difference between console and graphical programs and so on.


Again here you're avoiding giving him answers. I just wanted to chime in and
resonate with bartc's comment here: you do have a lot of "unnecessary
confusion" in your first chapter. Why go through all the trouble to explain
how to compile a program, or what's the difference between python and
pythonw? You even went into try-except blocks and error-handling in the
second chapter! That's a little... fast, don't you think? The reader/student
hasn't done anything practical or interesting yet, and you're putting all
these weight on him/her ... that's something for you to think about.

I believe teaching needs to be interesting. While I appreciate your humour
in the writing style, I was not thrilled by the examples you're using. Could
you make your book more interesting to read by providing examples that do
things, please?

Also, last thing, could you use "and" instead of ampersand (&) in your book?
That would be so awesome. It just irks me. I really don't know why. But heh,
I suppose you can do that when you finish the book, with a quick

Best of luck and continue with your good efforts,
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