Just a quick post today. As I mentioned recently, I’ve been studying Python recently, with Zed Shaw’s regimen. I wanted to share a few brief thoughts.
As someone who’s done a bit of coding before but minimal programming (I was mostly self-taught with one of the older versions of HTML, and I did a little bit of Visual Basic in school), I have mixed feelings here.
I like that Zed’s lessons each give a task to be carried out and then anticipates common questions afterwards. Some points he seems to really try to hammer home, which is probably a good thing if this is your first programming experience. However he really does place a lot of emphasis on doing your own research. He lays out a lot of the basics and then tells you to search for certain elements or find out what various commands do. This may be a good way to learn for some, but as other reviews have pointed out, this also burdens the student with finding good, reliable resources on the internet. This can be a little difficult when some sources may be referencing a different version of Python or may just be flat out incorrect. A lot of the Python resources I’ve encountered are also written in a very obtuse way – they assume the reader is already familiar programming terminology. I could see this scaring away beginners.
A glossary of terms and of commands and elements/modules/etc would have been nice, but he puts that on the student to build for oneself.
Then again, Zed does offer a free online version of the book, which I’ve been using. If I get through it I’ll probably be buying the full (physical) version. For the low, low price of free, this is still a great way to start learning Python.
I also like that he insists on using Powershell to run scripts. I imagine I’ll learn how to use an IDE at some point, but I’m glad to be familiar with something a little more powerful than the command prompt.