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Python 101 (part 1): Snake Eyes

Known for its power, flexibility and elegance - much like its namesake - Python is one of the most interesting programming languages around. In this introductory tutorial, find out how learning Python will earn you respect, affection and bags of money. Oh yeah...you might also learn a little bit about the origins, features and syntactical rules of the language.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Python 101 (part 1): Snake Eyes
  2. The Jedi Master Speaks
  3. Start It Up
  4. Dissecting A Python...Program
  5. Milk And Toast And Honey
  6. Adding Things Up
By: Vikram Vaswani, (c) Melonfire
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 15
May 29, 2001

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Perhaps it's just my imagination, but Python programmers seem to command a great deal more respect than their Perl or PHP counterparts.

In the consciously-elitist world of software engineering, a developer with a few years of Python under his belt gets the best cubicle, the prettiest girl and the respect of his neighbours; people move out of the way when he strides down the hall, and colleagues turn to him for creative and elegant solutions to the problems they encounter. Walk into a job interview and mention Python when reciting your qualifications; you'll immediately see a glint of recognition in the interviewer's eyes, an awareness that, in the hierarchy of software developers, you're one of the top guns.

I'm exaggerating a little, of course. However, the fact remains that Python, by its very nature, forces most developers to acquire an understanding of object-oriented programming concepts and, by implication, design software that is reusable, extensible and modular. In the long run, this translates into better software engineering, greater code maintainability and less testing - all of which are music to the ears of the average manager.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to take you on a guided tour of this powerful programming language, and demonstrate some of its capabilities to you. I'll be covering everything you need to know to get started with Python, from using the command-line and understanding Python's data structures, to trapping errors and writing your own Python modules.

If you already know Perl, PHP or Java, many of the concepts explained here may already be familiar to you; however, Python, like its namesake, does add some interesting twists to standard programming constructs, and I'll be sure to point them out to you. If, on the other hand, you're completely new to this, fear not - I'll keep it as simple and non-threatening as I can.{mospagebreak title=A Reptile By Any Other Name} If you look at a dictionary, a python is defined as "a large snake that crushes its victims."

Python's own Web site, http://www.python.org/, is even more specific:

python, (Gr. Myth. An enormous serpent that lurked in the cave of Mount Parnassus and was slain by Apollo)

1. any of a genus of large, non-poisonous snakes of Asia, Africa and Australia that suffocate their prey to death.

2. popularly, any large snake that crushes its prey.

3. totally awesome, bitchin' language that will someday crush the $'s out of certain other so-called VHLL's ;-)

The brainchild of Guido van Rossum, Python is a powerful and flexible programming language built on strong object-oriented fundamentals. By combining the usability of scripting languages (like Perl and PHP) with the rich feature set of traditional languages (like C++ and Java), it offers an irresistible combination of speed and power. Originally developed in 1989 as part of the Amoeba Project at CWI in the Netherlands, it was released to the user community as freeware, and has become a popular language for high-level application development over the past decade.

In fact, Python's clean syntax and object-oriented framework has helped make it popular among an A-list of "customers", including CNRI, Xerox PARC, Red Hat and Australia's Melbourne Cricket Ground.

 
 
>>> More Python Articles          >>> More By Vikram Vaswani, (c) Melonfire
 

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