Learning Python

The Python Language is great. Not only is it a flexible and powerful general-purpose language which is enjoyed by experienced programmers, but it is also simple and friendly, and so much appreciated by novices.

So, how to go about learning it?

Noughtthly, you'll need the python software; most unix machines (including urchin) have it installed already, but if you need to get it, get it from <http://www.python.org/download/>, for most platforms (the more obscure platforms are dealt with at <http://www.python.org/download/download_other.html>). Installing it should be fairly simple.

The first thing to know is that the nerve centre for python documentation is at <http://www.python.org/doc/>. In particular, the library reference manual at <http://www.python.org/doc/current/lib/lib.html> is indispensable; as it says on the website, "keep this under your pillow".

Secondly, know that the way to lean is by doing. Before you do anything else, start the interpreter, and as you read, try things out. Tutorials will usually give you directions on things to do, but it's good to try out anything else that comes to mind as well.

Thirdly, the canonical tutorial is <http://www.python.org/doc/current/tut/tut.html>, written by the father of python, Guido Van Rossum?. However, this is aimed at people with a bit of programming knowledge, so it might not be perfect for novices (although they should still give it a go, as it is rather good!). Google thinks this tutorial might be more novice-friendly: <http://www.hetland.org/python/instant-hacking.php>.

Fourthly, python has a mailing list "for folks who want to ask questions regarding how to learn computer programming with the Python language", python-tutor (<http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/tutor>). For novices, joining this would be an excellent idea!

Fifthly, python has an active and friendly newsgroup, <news:comp.lang.python>, which should quickly and effectively answer your questions (provided you follow usenet tradition and make some sort of effort to work the answers out yourself).

Sixthly, if you know someone who knows python (eg Tom Anderson), ask them for advice; python makes people so happy that they'll be over the moon to help you.

There is no seventhly.

Eighthly, have fun! Think of a simple program that would make your life better, and write it!

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Sun, 21 Sep 2003 15:14:11 GMT Front Page Recent Changes Message Of The Day