July 01, 2005
I've recently finished reading the first edition of the Python Cookbook, just after the second edition has been published. I'd actually bought this book when it first came out, but it has been sitting in my to read pile for over two years. In my defence a fair portion of that time was because we were in another country and it was in storage.
In summary it's a great book, indispensible to have around when you are actually doing any Python programming.
The book is a collection of programming recipes, collected from people who use Python in a variety of situations and for varied purposes. It therefore reflects the best practices of the community garnered from many years of experience. The key to a book of this nature is good editing, selecting and weaving the best contributions from a number of different authors into a series of coherent chapters. Luckily messrs Martelli and Ascher have done a sterling job here.
Nothing jars, and reading each chapter you could be forgiven for thinking they were written by the same author.
My test for technical books of this nature is whether they make me think and then want to try out the ideas they are discussing. At least once in each chapter I found myself reaching for the keyboard to try out a command or a technique. I'm sure this book will be a valuable companion whilst I'm knocking out my half cooked code.
If I had to point out a deficiency it would be in the User Interface chapter. The samples there seemed to be a little disjointed and flitted around what is admittedly a very large topic. I would perhaps have concentrated on showing the same implementation in each of the different GUI toolkits, highlighting their different approaches, or possibly left any mention of GUI techniques out at all.
I'm sure that the 2nd edition will be even more valuable as it's been extensively re-written to take into account improvements in the language and libraries and to cover more topics. I just have to save my pennies to buy a copy.
Posted by Andy Todd at July 01, 2005 01:17 PM