Python in a Nutshell:
A Desktop Quick Reference

Alex Martelli

O'Reilly & Associates 2003
A book review by Danny Yee © 2003
Python in a Nutshell is now the one Python book that never strays far from my desk, having replaced the Python Essential Reference. Covering the core language, the standard libraries, and networking and C/Java extensions, it is pretty comprehensive — with redundancy avoided and information compactly presented, it packs a lot in. In the best O'Reilly tradition, it is also reliable and easy to use, with good explanations, a clear layout, and an extensive index.

Though invaluable as a reference, however, Python in a Nutshell is discursive enough that chapters can be read comfortably, making it a great tool for learning new material. Individual sections provide a general introduction to the key classes and modules before going through their functions and methods. So I used the core language sections to learn what was new in Python 2.2. And, while its primary audience is obviously people already using Python, Python in a Nutshell could be used as an introduction to the language for experienced programmers.

Part one offers a brief overview and a guide to installation and invocation. Part two is an overview of the core language, covering the language basics, object-oriented methods, exceptions, the core built-ins, and the string and regular expression libraries. Part three covers the standard libraries and numeric processing and Tkinter extensions, ending with a chapter on testing, debugging and optimization, while part four covers network programming. And part five looks at extending and embedding Python, and at packaging Python software for distribution.

A full table of contents — and a sample chapter — are available on the O'Reilly web site.

December 2003

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- books about computing
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%T Python in a Nutshell
%S A Desktop Quick Reference
%A Martelli, Alex
%I O'Reilly & Associates
%D 2003
%O paperback, index
%G ISBN 0596001886
%P 636pp