Python Essential Reference

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Addison-Wesley Professional, 2009 - Computers - 717 pages
Python Essential Reference is the definitive reference guide to the Python programming language — the one authoritative handbook that reliably untangles and explains both the core Python language and the most essential parts of the Python library.

Designed for the professional programmer, the book is concise, to the point, and highly accessible. It also includes detailed information on the Python library and many advanced subjects that is not available in either the official Python documentation or any other single reference source.

Thoroughly updated to reflect the significant new programming language features and library modules that have been introduced in Python 2.6 and Python 3, the fourth edition of Python Essential Reference is the definitive guide for programmers who need to modernize existing Python code or who are planning an eventual migration to Python 3. Programmers starting a new Python project will find detailed coverage of contemporary Python programming idioms.

This fourth edition of Python Essential Reference features numerous improvements, additions, and updates:

  • Coverage of new language features, libraries, and modules
  • Practical coverage of Python's more advanced features including generators, coroutines, closures, metaclasses, and decorators
  • Expanded coverage of library modules related to concurrent programming including threads, subprocesses, and the new multiprocessing module
  • Up-to-the-minute coverage of how to use Python 2.6's forward compatibility mode to evaluate code for Python 3 compatibility
  • Improved organization for even faster answers and better usability
  • Updates to reflect modern Python programming style and idioms
  • Updated and improved example code
  • Deep coverage of low-level system and networking library modules — including options not covered in the standard documentation


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This is a superb book, the best one for a programmer's bookshelf. If you already know a modern programming language, you can possibly learn Python from scratch using this book. A more valuable use is for anyone who learned just enough Python from a beginner's book or a class; this book will take you up a few more notches, well into the realm that most professional programmers would need. 

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This is the essential reference for anyone doing serious Python programming. This is the book you need to have at your desk to look up the details on any (more or less) topic in Python. This is not necessarily the right book to learn Python. However, when you need to know how to use some feature in detail, this is the place to go.
For example, I needed to use locks in a mulch-threaded program. In a few seconds, I found examples of how locks are used and critically how locks are used with contexts (the Python with statement).
The author assumes that you have a fairly detailed knowledge of software and computers in general. Presuming that is the case, this is probably the best 'advanced' Python book written to date.


The Python Library
Extending and Embedding
Python 3

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About the author (2009)

David M. Beazley has been programming Python since 1996. While working at Los Alamos National Laboratory, he helped pioneer the use of Python with scientific computing software. Through his company, Dabeaz LLC, he provides software development, training, and consulting related to the practical use of dynamic programming languages such as Python, Ruby, and Perl, especially in systems programming. He is author of all previous editions of Python Essential Reference, and was contributing author of Steve Holden's Python Web Programming. He is a member of the Python Software Foundation.

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