Learning Python Overview

Here's the text of an overview I recently posted on comp.lang.python, that addresses a few more common questions about the book Learning Python.


You wrote:
: Mark Lutz wrote:
: : 
: : I've been getting private requests for information on the
: : release date of _Learning Python_, the new O'Reilly book.
: : In the interest of saving bandwidth, I thought it might
: : help to give a status update to this group at large.
: 
: Mark,
: 
: I read an enjoyed your previous book _Programming Python_. I'm new to
: Python programming and have considered getting _Learning Python_ too.
: Would you be so kind as to highlight some features of your new book that
: might make it useful for the novice Python programmer? In other words,
: please "compare and contrast" your books (I couldn't help it; I'm a
: teacher). Thanks.

I think that's mostly for readers and reviewers to decide after the
book is released, so I'd rather not say too much on this subject here.  But 
since you (and others) have asked for clarification, here are a few words.

The short story is that Learning Python is explicitly aimed at beginners,
focuses on the core language, and is designed to be a structured learning
tool.  For instance, it's organized by language features, and most chapters
end with a look at common pitfalls that trip up beginners, as well as 
exercises with solutions.  It's also largely based on training materials,
which makes it roughly equivalent to taking an introductory Python class.

In addition, co-author David Ascher provided a chapter on common tasks 
with Python, as well as one with more advanced material about things like
CGI, COM, Tkinter, and JPython, which even the most grizzled Python veterans
should enjoy reading.

But as a more complete reply, I've just posted the first part of the
Learning Python preface, which describes the book's scope and style:

    http://learning-python.com/lp-preface.html

You can also read more about the book at these sites:

    http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/lpython/             (O'Reilly' site)
    http://learning-python.com/about-lp.html            (my site)

As for the contrast: I think the most obvious difference is that Learning
Python is about half as heavy as Programming Python.  And I mean that in 
both the physical and conceptual sense: LPython was designed to be a first
book on Python for beginners.  PPython deals with more advanced examples,
C integration, the philosophies behind Python scripting, and so on.  LPython
is more of a focused introduction to the core language; at the risk of over
simplifying, much of it is like the PPython tutorial appendix, on steroids.

--Mark Lutz (http://learning-python.com)


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