1.5. Python Resources
The richest of all Python resources is the Internet. The best starting point is Python's site, http://www.python.org, which is full of interesting links to explore. http://www.jython.org is a must if you have any interest in Jython. For IronPython, at the time of writing the most relevant site is http://workspaces.gotdotnet.com/ironpython, but the IronPython team's near-future plans include reviving the site http://ironpython.com; by the time you read this, http://ironpython.com should be back in its role as the primary IronPython web site.
Python, Jython, and IronPython come with good documentation. The manuals are available in many formats, suitable for viewing, searching, and printing. You can browse the manuals on the Web at http://www.python.org/doc/current/. You can find links to the various formats you can download at http://www.python.org/doc/current/download.html, and http://www.python.org/doc/ has links to a large variety of documents. For Jython, http://www.jython.org/docs/ has links to Jython-specific documents as well as general Python ones. The Python FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document is at http://www.python.org/doc/FAQ.html, and the Jython-specific FAQ document is at http://www.jython.org/cgi-bin/faqw.py?req=index.
Most Python documentation (including this book) assumes some software development knowledge. However, Python is quite suitable for first-time programmers, so there are exceptions to this rule. A few good introductory online texts for nonprogrammers are:
1.5.2. Newsgroups and Mailing Lists
The URL http://www.python.org/community/lists/ has links to Python-related mailing lists and newsgroups. Always use plain-text format, not HTML, in any message you send to mailing lists or newsgroups.
The Usenet newsgroup for Python discussions is comp.lang.python. The newsgroup is also available as a mailing list. To subscribe, send a message whose body is the word "subscribe" to firstname.lastname@example.org. "Dr. Dobb's Python URL!," an interesting weekly collection of the most notable news and Python resources, is regularly posted to comp.lang.python. All issues, in reverse chronological order (most recent first), can be found by visiting the URL:
A somewhat similar daily list of Python news can be found at http://www.pythonware.com/daily/.
Python-related announcements are posted to comp.lang.python.announce. To subscribe to its mailing-list equivalent, send a message whose body is the word "subscribe" to email@example.com. To subscribe to Jython's mailing list, visit http://lists.sf.net/lists/listinfo/jython-users. To ask for individual help with Python, email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions and discussions about using Python to teach or learn programming, write to email@example.com.
1.5.3. Special-Interest Groups
Discussions on some specialized subjects related to Python take place on the mailing lists of Python Special Interest Groups (SIGs). The page at http://www.python.org/sigs/ has a list of active SIGs and pointers to general and specific information about them. Over a dozen SIGs are active at the time of this writing. Here are a few examples:
1.5.4. Python Business Forum
The Python Business Forum (PBF), at http://www.python-in-business.org/, is an international society of companies that base their businesses on Python. The PBF's site offers interesting information about some of the many business uses of Python.
1.5.5. Python Journal
The Python Journal, http://pythonjournal.cognizor.com/, is a free online publication that focuses on Python, how to use it, and its applications.
1.5.6. Extension Modules and Python Sources
A good starting point to explore the world of available Python extensions and sources is the Python Cheese Shop, http://www.python.org/pypi, which currently contains more than 1,200 packages with descriptions and pointers. Another good one is "The Vaults of Parnassus," available at http://www.vex.net/parnassus/, which has over 2,000 classified and commented links. By following these links, you can find and download most freely available Python modules and tools.
The standard Python source distribution contains excellent Python source code in the standard library and in the Demos and Tools directories, as well as C source for the many built-in extension modules. Even if you have no interest in building Python from source, I suggest you download and unpack the Python source distribution for study purposes.
Many Python modules and tools covered in this book also have dedicated sites. References to these sites are included in the appropriate chapters in this book.
1.5.7. The Python Cookbook
ActiveState's web site http://www.activestate.com/ASPN/Python/Cookbook hosts a living collection of Python recipes. Each recipe contains Python code, comments, and discussion, contributed by volunteers and enriched by readers, under the editorial supervision of David Ascher. All code is covered by a license similar to Python's. Everyone is invited to participate as author and reader in this community endeavor. Hundreds of recipes from the siteedited, commented, and grouped into chapters with introductions by Python expertsare published by O'Reilly as the Python Cookbook, edited by Alex Martelli, Anna Martelli Ravenscroft, and David Ascher.
1.5.8. Books and Magazines
Although the Net is a rich source of information, books and magazines still have their place (if you and I didn't agree on this, I wouldn't have written this book, and you wouldn't be reading it). At the time of this writing, the only magazine entirely devoted to Python is Py (for up-to-date information, visit http://www.pyzine.com/).
Books about Python and Jython are numerous. Here are a few that I recommend, although many of them cover older versions of the language rather than current ones: