REVIEW - Making Use of Python


Making Use of Python


Rashi Gupta



John Wiley & Sons (2002)




Francis Glassborow


October 2002



What does the title signify to you? Now turn to the back cover where we find the following claim highlighted:

A step-by-step guide on how to use Python for CGI scripting, GUI development, network programming, and much more!

[The exclamation mark is theirs, not mine]. Now when you come to check between the covers you find the first half of the book is the usual mix of preaching the virtues of Python (if I were not already convinced of that, why would I be spending time studying Python) with an introductory course on Python. Unfortunately I find that material very poorly presented and at times deeply confusing (please note that I already know some Python though I do not program fluently in it.)

The first half of this book clearly does not stand up to the promises of the title and the back cover. It would be much better for the author to assume that the reader has a basic knowledge of Python (or can get one from such excellent texts as 'Learning Python'). Now having made that assumption he can focus on what was promised. In other words the book should start at page 213. Now ifyou start reading there you will be faced with large quantities of HTML. Now think about this, what I really need is some instruction on HTML. OK, you (yes, you reading this review) already know that writing cgi scripts presupposes being comfortable with HTML but if that is the case why does half the chapter consist of reams of HTML? I want to know how to write a cgi script in Python and have just a single pathetic example buried away in a chapter littered with trivia.

The next chapter on Database Programming (using mySQL) is a little better but is still too broadly based and inadequately focused on the Python. If the reader does not already know about mysql they will not be able to make sense of this chapter, and if they do they will not be interested in most of the contents.

This is another example of a book where the author is so concerned about having a broad readership that he assumes that his reader needs to be spoon-fed. The author needs to have a clear image of whom he is writing for and discard all the superfluous floss that litters his book. He then needs to provide about ten times as much information directed at the real needs of the reader.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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