Introduction to Python
Martch 1st, 2007
Python is an object-oriented programming language that is fun to code in, uses whitespace to denote blocks of code which leads to more readable code, and comes with extensive standard libraries to play with. You can run python on strauss, mlb, etc, or download it for yourself (see: Active Python). There are also several IDEs available (a list is available on python.org). I suggest Eclipse IDE with the pyDev plugin.
For this meeting, I opened python on my machine as an interpreter, and typed in commands. I went through what I felt were important parts of the Python tutorial.
Also, I went over GUI programming with wxPython. wxPython allows you to create a gui that uses the target machine's standard widgets. Windows will look like Windows. Mac python guis will look correct on Macs.
A neat extension is something called pyGame. I showed off the program PyMan.py which is a PacMac clone created in a few lines of Python code using the pyGame libraries. There are a multitude of tutorials and information on pyGame's website.
Finally, I talked a little about compiling byte-code. Information about all the built-in modules that come with Python (including regular expressions, exception handling, html and xml processing, email, etc) can be found in the Python Lib Docs.
To really work on your python coding skills, I highly suggest Python Challenge. It's like a riddle website in which all the problems can be solved by a short python program.
For even more information, there's a complete book out talking about python called Dive Into Python, available free online.
This is only required if you live off campus or have extended access granted.