Apr 26, 2012

Learning Python

Before I get into the "how" part of learning Python, let me first list down the reasons on why I am learning Python:

  1. First and foremost, my resolution for 2012 was to focus more on Create rather than Consume. Learning a new programming language was one of the list of action items I had listed earlier
  2. Being a stay-at-home mum, the thinking time periods are more these days, during the times I feed my daughter or rock her to sleep. Random ideas pop up now and then, and I want to be able to quickly create something. Of course, the time to focus on such ideas and spend some quality time on execution is really rare, given the circumstances
  3. I want my brain cells to remain active. Working full-time in a job alone shouldn't become the sole reason for my brain cells to get exercised
  4. My prior programming experience was mainly on PL/SQL and SQL in the databases world. Though I had learnt Java long time ago, I'm in no mood to go back and upgrade. I want to experience something new in the programming paradigm
  5. Having read a few blogs on Python's ease of programming, faster learning curve and data processing capabilities, I decided to learn Python

Whenever my daughter takes a nap in the afternoons or when she sleeps early in the nights, I decided to do my learning. I downloaded Swaroop's e-book "A byte of Python" and started reading it. He has covered the basic concepts so clearly that it gave me a good revision of object oriented programming fundamentals. I also ensured I tried the examples and exercises diligently. After finishing his book, I started loving Python. It's definitely a no-non-sense language !

I believe learning becomes more interesting if there are different mediums and sources from which one can learn. Having read an e-book, I decided to go through the Python video lectures hosted by Google. The lecturer Nick Parlante keeps you really engaged and takes you through the concepts of Python step-by-step. I have always had an aversion towards regular expressions. But through his lectures, I finally understood regular expressions and did some interesting exercises in Python. The more you code, the better you learn - after each lecture video, there are a set of exercises you need to complete. It gives immense confidence as you breeze through them. I still remember the night when I was solving one of the exercises and felt thrilled to be "in-the-zone".

Having learnt the basics, I was looking for some advanced concepts to learn in Python. Many programmers have recommended the e-book "Dive into Python". I appreciate the fact that the author has given a real code snippet and then goes about explaining the concepts based on this snippet. It makes learning much more serious and engaging. I'm one-third through this book and hope to complete it by end of May.

I'm enjoying this slow and steady programming journey with Python. I would love to hear comments from experienced Python programmers on how I can take my learning to the next level.

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