A number of people have written to ask me about the Beginning Programming with Python For Dummies books that I originally discussed in my Beta Readers Needed for Beginning Programming with Python For Dummies post. My copy of the book finally arrived on Friday and I can’t be more excited about how it turned out. This is the book you really need if you want to get started working with Python quickly and easily. As the title suggests, this is a beginner book—as in, you don’t need any experience to use it. Unlike most books, I don’t assume you already have some programming experience (although, you do need to know how to use your computer system). The really cool thing is that this is the book you need if you’re learning about programming in school and your school uses Python as a learning tool.
This book contains a wealth of examples, but you go through them using step-by-step procedures, so there isn’t any of the head scratching that occurs when you work with other books. The examples were tested on the Macintosh, Linux, and Windows platforms, but I’m sure they’ll work on other platforms as well. Any platform that runs Python and provides access to IDLE will be able to use this book. Here’s a list of the things you’ll learn:
- Part I: Getting Started
- Chapter 1: Talking to Your Computer
- Chapter 2: Getting Your Own Copy of Python
- Chapter 3: Interacting with Python
- Chapter 4: Writing Your First Application
- Part II: Talking the Talk
- Chapter 5: Storing and Modifying Information
- Chapter 6: Managing Information
- Chapter 7: Making Decisions
- Chapter 8: Performing Tasks Repetitively
- Chapter 9: Dealing with Errors
- Part III: Performing Common Tasks
- Chapter 10: Interacting with Modules
- Chapter 11: Working with Strings
- Chapter 12: Managing Lists
- Chapter 13: Collecting All Sorts of Data
- Chapter 14: Creating and Using Classes
- Part IV: Performing Advanced Tasks
- Chapter 15: Storing Data in Files
- Chapter 16: Sending an E-mail
- Part V: Part of Tens
- Chapter 17: Ten Amazing Programming Resources
- Chapter 18: Ten Ways to Make a Living with Python
- Chapter 19: Ten Interesting Tools
- Chapter 20: Ten Libraries You Need to Know About
All the basics are here. By the time you complete this book, you can perform essential Python programming tasks and even use your new found knowledge in practical ways, such as sending an e-mail or storing data in files. Of course, there are limits to most books. This one doesn’t cover advanced topics—instead, it serves as your introduction to such books. Instead of spending hours just trying to figure out the jargon in these advanced books, you can move right along with doing something interesting.
This is your must have introduction to Python. Of course, I’m sure you have questions and I want to hear from you about them. Please feel free to contact me about any questions you have at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.
Don’t worry, the cheat sheet is still available, but now you access it online on the Dummies site. Now, before I get a bunch of e-mails yelling foul, yes there are some disadvantages to this new approach—the most noticeable of which is that you can’t remove the cheat sheet from your book and carry it around with you. I have to admit, not having the cheat sheet within easy reach wherever I am at the moment is a disadvantage. However, it used to be more of a disadvantage when I wasn’t always connected to the Internet. I thought about it recently and those occasions are rare today.
Let’s discuss the positives of an online cheat sheet. The following list provides some reasons that you’ll find the new cheat sheet really helpful (at least, these are reasons I like the new cheat sheet).
- The new cheat sheet is available to everyone, even if you purchased an e-book version of the book.
- I can make the cheat sheet as large as needed (within reason) to accommodate everything I think the reader might like to see (I often had to cut content from the old cheat sheets).
- You now have access to live links as part of the cheat sheet so that all you need to do is click a link to see additional resources.
- The new cheat sheet can’t get lost. Readers used to complain all the time that they had misplaced their cheat sheet (or someone had borrowed it).
- The new cheat sheet won’t get worn out.
If you’re like me, you still like to have a paper copy of your cheat sheet around. To make the new cheat sheet as readable in paper form as possible, click the smallish Print link near the top of the page. You’ll see a less embellished version of the cheat sheet that will print cleanly no matter what platform you’re using. When the paper copy you have is lost, borrowed, or worn out, you can simply print a new one without having to ask anyone about it. Talk about convenient !
I’m always open to your input. What do you like or dislike about the new cheat sheet? Is there anything I can do to improve this new form of cheat sheet in the future? This is my first stab at this new format, so I really do need to know your thoughts so that I can polish my presentation to meet your needs. Let me know your thoughts at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.
I’ve written a number of Dummies books over the years so I check on the Dummies site regularly to see what sorts of things the publisher is currently offering. Of course, there are always new books to read in a broad range of categories. Sometimes I like to browse just to see some of the interesting topics people have come up with over the years. For example, there is a book specifically for Yorkshire Terrier owners named, “Yorkshire Terriers for Dummies.” I keep hoping to find a Dummies book on Border Collies, but so far, no one has taken up the topic. Perhaps I’ll suggest such a book in the future since we work quite a bit with that particular breed. Keeping up with the wide range of books makes it a little easier for me to recommend books to my readers when they ask and I sometimes get a new idea or two simply by browsing through the topics pursued by others.
There are a couple new additions to the Dummies site that you might find interesting. First, if you really want a tee-shirt, coffee mug, or key chain (amongst other items) to show your love for Dummies products, you can get them at For Dummies Merchandise. I was a bit surprised to find that the site doesn’t offer hats at the moment, but perhaps that will change in the future.
Second, if you’ve ever wanted to create your own Dummies book, you can at least generate the cover now at The Official For Dummies Cover Generator. What you’ll get is a novelty cover that includes your title, bullet points, and art. Personally, I found some of the sample covers hysterical, so it’s worth a look even if you don’t intend to generate a cover. You’ll find titles such as Training Your Cat to Play Fetch for Dummies. Interestingly enough, our cat Smucker does, in fact, play fetch. So that particular cover caught my eye immediately.
The point behind these offerings is to have a bit fun with Dummies products. Even though the books cover serious topics, they’ve always done it is in a fun way, which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed writing for them so much. Let me know about your favorite Dummies site addition at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.