Monday, June 6, 2011

Python for Newbies

The Python folks have a page with some excellent links for non-programmers. I've listed the ones that most interest me. Notice the links for children at the end:
  • How to Think Like a Computer Scientist - 2nd edition Allen Downey's open source textbook has a Python version, written with Jeff Elkner. It's also available in book form. It was updated and current version is 2nd edition.

  • The Programming Historian From the "About This Book" page: "This book is a tutorial-style introduction to programming for practicing historians. We assume that you're starting out with no prior programming experience and only a basic understanding of computers. More experience, of course, won't hurt. Once you know how to program, you will find it relatively easy to learn new programming languages and techniques, and to apply what you know in unfamiliar situations."

  • Learning to Program An introduction to programming for those who have never programmed before, by Alan Gauld. It introduces several programming languages but has a strong emphasis on Python.

  • A Byte of Python, by Swaroop C.H., is also an introductory text for people with no previous programming experience.

  • One Day of IDLE Toying A very gentle introduction to the IDLE development environment that comes with Python. This tutorial by Danny Yoo has been translated into nine different languages.

  • Free Python video lectures are also available as a course titled Intro to programming with Python and Tkinter, Unix users can view the video using mplayer once you have downloaded the files. Windows users will need to have a DivX player, available from (One user reports success viewing the videos on OS X 10.4 using the VLC player --

  • A Non-Programmer's Tutorial for Python 3 on Wikibooks.

  • Learning Python (for the complete nOOb) by Derrick Wolters. A beginner's tutorial to learn how to program in Python.

  • Beginning Python for Bioinformatics by Patrick O'Brien. An introduction to Python aimed at biologists that introduces the PyCrust shell and Python's basic data types.

  • Two courses from the Pasteur Institute are aimed at biologists but are useful to anyone wanting to learn Python. Both tutorials are quite extensive, covering data types, object-oriented programming, files, and even design patterns.
  • Python Tutorial This tutorial is part of Python's documentation set and is updated with each new release. It's not written with non-programmers in mind, but skimming through it will give you an idea of the language's flavor and style.

  • Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Ed, by Al Sweigart is a free e-Book that teaches complete beginners how to program by making games.

  • LiveWires A set of Python lessons used during 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 children's summer camps in Britain by Richard Crook, Gareth McCaughan, Mark White, and Rhodri James. Aimed at children 12-15 years old.

  • Guido van Robot A teaching tool in which students write simple programs using a Python-like language to control a simulated robot. Field-tested at Yorktown High School, the project includes a lesson plan.

  • PythonTurtle A learning environment for Python suitable for beginners and children, inspired by Logo. Geared mainly towards children, but known to be successful with adults as well.

My favorite resource right now is a video series by Bucky Roberts.

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