Recently, I’ve been trying to read at least one book every week, and this week’s pick was “Expert Python Programming” by Tarek Ziade. Besides its few shortcomings, I found it to be useful - Python is a language of choice for me, and I found some valuable tips I could add to my arsenal.
The best thing about this book is that it covers a very wide range of topics: syntax recommendations and code profiling, testing practices and project management, technical writing and design patterns, package distribution and version control… My favorite chapter covered writing technical documentation: I am very interested in writing in general, and the tips Ziade provided turned out to be very useful for documenting code, writing design documents, and even posting to this blog. Not much else caught my eye, but I had a number of “Aha!” moments such as, “Oh, I never used that!” and “That’s an interesting topic to look into!” scattered throughout the book. This book is very useful for filling in little gaps in knowledge which programmers can have: the author covers an extremely wide variety of Python development aspects.
Unfortunately, I found the book to be poorly written. Weak writing style, typos in the text and code examples - it looked like the book was put together sloppily, in haste. Reviewers did not do a very good job evaluating this book. “Expert Python Programming” gives you the feeling that the author tried to fit in as much content (and code) as possible in his book, with no consistent style. Many chapters go into unnecessary details, and the author has tendency to paste completely useless chunks of code, such as a page-long output of an installer. As I have mentioned, the book hops from one topic to another, and covers a wide variety of subjects: this is both a key strength and the biggest weakness of the book. There is just “too much stuff” and it’s too scattered across the topics.
“Expert Python Programming” will be of best use to, you guessed it, an expert. I found it best to scan through the content and seek out interesting bits of information. Beginners, however, might be completely overwhelmed. While advanced and intermediate Pythonistas will get the most out of this book, it will probably be too hard (and painful) to read to be of real value.