REVIEW - Python Developer's Handbook


Python Developer's Handbook


André dos Santos Lessa



Sams Publishing (2001)




Francis Glassborow


April 2001



The same caveats apply to my review of this books as apply to my review of Core Python Programming, mainly I have to take the technical correctness as a given.

First of all this author is concerned at trying to sell me on the value of using Python. He takes a good deal of space up front telling the reader why Python is better than other languages. I must admit that this kind of thing causes my hackles to rise. What would I be doing reading this book if I did not think Python had something to offer? Why insult my intelligence with a blatant 'sales pitch'? Just tell me what Python is and how to write it and let me be a judge of its relative merits. Of course a neutral statement that Python does this differently than X is fine. For example, as a C++ programmer it would help me to know that identifiers in Python are untyped references to data (i.e. the identifier takes on the type of whatever it currently refers to). I need things like that said clearly up front so that I am not deceived by what I see. What I do not need is to be told that this is a better way to use identifiers than the C++, Java or Smalltalk way. Different is fine, that is an objective statement, better is not, that is subjective and often depends on the surrounding context.

I have do doubt that there is plenty of good material in this book, but the author lacks a clear view of who he is writing for and just throws in everything but the kitchen sink. For example, why is he taking space to tell me how to compile Python (and he means the environment and interpreter, not Python source code)? If I am a Python Developer, I should already have a working version, and if not I will have to collect one from elsewhere (and the web sites have fully compiled versions available for all common platforms).

I think a book that was half the size, written with a greater degree of discrimination would be far better value for money, even at the same price. While this is not a bad book, more focus and a firmer control over the content is needed for this to become a good book.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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