Jun 21

Core Python Applications Programming, Third Ed. Book Review

Book Review: Core Python Applications Programming, Third Edition, Wesley J. Chun, March 2012, isbn 0-13-267620-9

Do you have a good friend who can help guide you through learning many of the technologies that you can apply Python to? This book may help!

Core Python

Learning Python is at its most basic level pretty simple but learning the ecco system of Python and its associated technologies is a vast undertaking. There are a huge number of resources on the web and in books for learning the environment. The “Core Python” series from Wesley Chun stands out for its thorough explanation of the environment into which the Python language is being used on a practical level. His books go beyond the language of Python and provide very useful explanation of the underlying technologies.

For example when he introduces Python for Web programming he takes you on a gentle tour of how the web and web servers work and the role of web development. Only then does he begin to show code examples which illustrate the use of the underlying components. If you already really understand all this you will find these explanations useful review or perhaps annoying. I find it very useful.

This book is aimed at the intermediate level programmer who already has a good understanding of basic Python syntax and the operating environment. No installation instructions here!

This Third edition, leaves out all of the basic language description from the earlier work (part 1 of the earlier edition some 400 pages). So if you need references for basic language constructs you will need to refer to the earlier book or alternatively the Python Documentation or one of the many other excellent reference book on the topic.

This book is entitled: “Third Edition” and the 1st section of the book is practically identical with the same chapters from part 2 of the Second Edition. Part one covers:

  1. Regular expressions
  2. Network Programming
  3. Internet client Programming
  4. Multithreaded Programming
  5. GUI Programming
  6. Database Programming
  7. Programming Microsoft Office
  8. Extending Python

The Third edition, leaves out all of the basic language description for the earlier work (part 1 of the earlier edition some 400 pages).

The all new section 2 is particularly helpful in providing “from the ground up” description of the theory and actual code of how the web works. While it is possible to gain this material from other documents, the style and level presented here is very clear and helpful in explaining the fundamentals in such a way as that can be built upon with ease.

I found the Django explanations particularly well done. Each of the major components of Django is clearly spelled out and there is plenty of explanatory code.

The Third edition also adds an all new part 2 which covers:

  1. Web Clients and Servers
  2. Web Programming: CGI and WSGI
  3. Web Frameworks:Django
  4. Cloud Computing:Google App Engine
  5. Web Services

The web topics above serve as an excellent primer on all things web. In particular the author does not assume you come from a PHP or other web background so nothing is taken for granted. This section would well serve anyone who is just beginning their career in web programming.

And then Part 3

  1. Text Processing
  2. Miscellaneous

As a personal note I was slightly disappointed to see very little emphasis placed on testing and debugging. I have been slowly picking up knowledge in this area, but find that although the Python community strongly supports built in testing for code, few teaching resources include it in their course material. Similarly, the course material generally assumes that if you follow the code examples you won’t need to see debugging or stack traces, so again this material is not generally included in most teaching material. Maybe that is a set of topics for the fourth edition?

Still all in all the material and topic selection is very well done. I learned a great deal and now just need to code more!

The publisher provided me with a review copy, Thank you!

I highly recommend the book.

Tags: Book, Python, Review

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