Python Annotated Archives

Python Annotated Archives, Martin C. Brown, Osborne, 2000, 722 pages + CD-ROM.

This is an unusual book, although a good one. It is not an introduction to Python, nor is it an advanced topics study. Rather, it is a book made up of several sample programs, including source code and detailed explanations of the code.

As such, it is not essential in any way. However, if you have an interest in any of the particular areas addressed by the sample programs, it can prove quite useful.

Two things save this book and define its utility, in my opinion. First, the book uses the best laid out and clearly printed code samples that I have ever come across. This may seem like a triviality to you, but since I have been reading and studying Python programming books intensively for the last several months, I can assure you that I greatly appreciate these features of this book. The code samples are printed on gray background pages, with bold black print for the letters of the code. This makes the code stand out without being glaring or annoying at all. On top of this, one can find the code easily and quickly by thumbing through the text and looking for the gray pages. This is the essence of this book's experience, looking up the code on a subject, studying it, and then later, if necessary, reading the explanation of the code in the book.

The second thing that saves this book, is that the author has done an uncanny job of choosing example programs that are of sufficient interest and utility to make the book pay its way in the world.

My now favorites are chapters two and three, which are on Networking and Web Developing, respectively. The HTTP server, CGI server, and Linbot url and parsers are particularly well explained. Socket servers, measuring TCP/IP performance, ping, gopher, Telnet, FTP and NNTP are also well covered by text and script.

Other chapters and scripts include Data Manipulation, Interface Development (using Tkinter), graphics (simple games), email, and programming tools.

The only way you can know whether this book is worth its $50 price tag, to you, is to briefly review its actual topics and sample codes in a book store. If one or more of them is exactly what you have in mind to program for yourself, then it may be worth buying for that one project alone. Otherwise, there are better books out there on which to spend your money.