Feb 09

Iron Python In Action - Review

In summary perhaps the best thing I can say about Iron Python in Action is that it is not just a good Iron Python book but it is a good Python book, period. The testing chapter may be worth the price of the book. I'd recommend the book highly even if Microsoft is not your thing.. It is an excellent and very accessible Python book.

Iron Python is a Microsoft supported version of Python, particularly of interest to Microsoft based shops. It too is open Source and interacts well with the Microsoft .net and asp architectures. It runs on the Microsoft CLR. Another example of how the open source tool sets can enrich any computing environment.

Review: Iron Python In Action Isbn:1-933988-33-9 © 2009 Manning Publications Co. Sound View Ct. Greenwich Ct. 06830 Authors: Michael J. Foord & Christian Muirhead Cover Price Us $44.99 464 pages

I got a free copy of this book to review from "D-Zone".

Iron Python In Action

This book is aimed at all levels and can serve as an excellent introduction to the Python programming language and environment. In fact, since I am still in the early stages of learning, I found the first few chapters helpful and well laid out. The book builds in a clear and well thought out way, going from basic concepts to more advanced ones.

I am somewhat of a newcomer to Python with limited exposure to modern dynamic languages, but I do have 30+ years in most computer disciplines mainly in large scale systems development and management.

That said, this book fulfilled the need that I have when learning new language environments to have things explained in many ways. Python is such a huge encompassing eco-system that is hard to catch up with people who have been at it for a while, particularly when they bring backgrounds in other modern system development environments such as PHP, Java and/or Ruby.

Although I really came to Python to escape Microsoft's clutches, I was surprised to find this book to be a well done summary of many of the useful features of Python in modern systems development. While the book does concentrate on Iron Python and the associated Microsoft libraries and tools, CLR, C++, .Net and ASP, it presents an extremely fair and balanced view of the ins and outs, and also the ups and downs of using these tools. The book carefully explains that some aspects of implementation are not quite up to snuff as other areas that are, which gives considerable credibility to the book and it's authors.

More importantly for me, the book also explained the use of Microsoft tools and contrasted that with more conventional Python practice. I was somewhat surprised not to see any reference to Microsoft's Web server (IIS), also the database examples were done using Postgre SQL rather than MSQL. This does serve to show that Iron Python can interact with other open source tools, and is not just restricted to Microsoft platforms.

The book tends to have more of a desktop applications focus, and somewhat limited Web focused material, which might be expected from a developer of the Python based Spreadsheet product "Resolver-one". Then again a line has to be drawn somewhere or you end up at 1700 pages or more and still not cover everything! There is excellent coverage of WPF (Windows Presentation Framework), the official graphical interface, and WMI (Windows Management Interface for system administration) and Power Shell. Most of the differences between Python and Iron Python relate to the use of CLR on the host system. I am left wondering about some Web differences.. That said, there is thorough coverage of Silverlight. The book also provides an excellent section on testing, which is applicable across Python domains. The author is one of the contributors to some of the Python testing tools. The principal author Michael J. Foord also maintains an excellent web site and is active on twitter.

There are other methods of operating on Windows Platforms, and accessing Windows services. I personally use plain old CPython on Windows. I prefer the completely transportable code and environment it provides. But for some Microsoft centric shops, it is good to have Iron Python available and positive that there is a good guide, such as this book, on it's use.

In summary perhaps the best thing I can say about Iron Python in Action is that it is not just a good Iron Python book but it is a good Python book, period. The testing chapter may be worth the price of the book. I'd recommend the book highly even if Microsoft is not your thing.. It is an excellent and very accessible Python book.

Tags: Iron, Python

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