Learning Python at PyCamp
I got back from leave a couple week ago, and spent part of it at a Python boot camp. I’ve gotten tired of hacking away at data in spreadsheets and read in several places that Python is a good language to learn for beginning programmers – it’s also open source, flexible, and is used by many in the GIS community for processing data and building plugins and software (the instructor for the camp, Chris Calloway, pointed me to this presentation on Python scripting techniques for ArcGIS).
The workshop was a three-day event hosted at Penn State by the Triangle Zope and Python Users Group (TriZPUG). It was geared towards beginners and non-programmers (although many of my fellow classmates were IT and systems people) and provided a pretty thorough review of all of the elements of the language – now it’s up to me to tie it all together! The price was extremely reasonable (only $300 for a 3 day class!) and I’d certainly recommend it if there’s a camp in your area; although I would also recommend reading a book or taking a tutorial to familiarize yourself with the basics BEFORE attending the class; I did, and as a result I think I got more out of it than I would have had going in cold.
The next PyCamp is being held in LA in a few days, and the following one will be in Toronto from Aug 30th to Sept 3rd (although this isn’t posted on the website yet); the normal workshop is a five day affair, the one I attended was a mini 3 day version which suited my needs pretty well.
There are tons of Python tutorials on the web and Python’s site is pretty definitive. If you’re looking for a book, I’d recommend Practical Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science Using Python. Unlike the “Learn Language X” books, this one introduces you to general theory and practice in programming, and the authors illustrate the applications with practical examples using Python – it’s been immensely helpful to me. Now that I’m around the initial learning curve, I’ve been relying more on Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional, which is better as a reference book and good for illustrating many of the uses for individual objects, methods, etc (which I had a hard time grasping before I covered the basics of programming).