Review: Python Pocket Reference by Mark Lutz

The first thing to note about the Python Pocket Reference is that if I was completely new to the Python programming language and wanted to pick up a handy ‘reference guide’ to getting started with essential concepts, this would not be an ideal book for my needs whatsoever. Apart from the single-page introduction, the book provides no logical flow that would allow someone new to Python to jump right in and start experimenting with basic functions and progress to advanced skills by the end of the book. There is other books that suit beginner Python programmers and I would suggest that a more detailed read in a tutorial format would suffice.

However, if you’re an experienced Python programmer with existing awareness and knowledge of the topics covered (statements, syntax, types etcetera) then Lutz’s reference is an excellent book to keep handy whenever you’re working with Python. As this is not a tutorial or guide book, expect no images or graphics to break up large paragraphs of text, but instead well-presented tables containing essential expressions linked to the current chapter and bullet-pointed lists with colour-coding and a distinctive pre-formatted typeface for code.

Viewed as support material for someone well versed in the conventions of Python, Lutz packs an enormous amount of convenient and useful information into the book’s pocket-sized 210 pages and is able to concisely link related ideas together through dark red highlighting of chapter names within the text, serving as a sensible method of allowing programmers to read information related to a certain topic or function. The latest edition of the book (5th edition) has been updated for the latest versions of Python and this is a reassurance to programmers that they are using information that conforms to correct specification.

In summary, this is a more difficult book to review as the interpretation and general stance taken in reviewing it depends on your perception and understanding of the Python programming language and your general experience in self-sufficient coding. The title seems to skew towards being a “Pocket Reference” instead of a reference guide or pocket guide; for the purposes of this review the ‘Content’ (topics described) rating is focused on interpretation as an experienced programmer and the ‘Intuitiveness’ (instinctive understanding) rating is focused on interpretation as a beginner Python user.

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Book of 210 pages
Published by O’Reilly Media
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0596158088

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