Book Review – Impractical Python Projects: Playful Programming Activities to Make You Smarter

Review

I enjoyed the layout of the book, especially through the lens of someone fairly “green” with python. Each chapter outlines the project, walks you through planning what the project is trying to do, and then walks you through some sample code. There are also loads of references for further digging, so I highly recommend working through an eBook/PDF version.

Each chapter works through:

  • Project Strategy – overall scoping of the project.
  • Pseudocode – high level description of what the code should do.
  • Project code – actual Python code file(s).
  • Debugging / troubleshooting – tutorials on various debugging tools
  • External Resources – further reading and other tools to reinforce the subjects taught in the chapter.
  • Challenge Projects – “Extra Credit” style projects going after the skills taught in the chapter, but without an answer key to guide you.

I would not suggest this as your very first exposure to Python, but that is also noted in the book’s introduction. This seems to fit in as a follow-up to a Python 101 exposure, even if that is any of the online tutorials.

For those of you still fairly new to the language (as I am) be prepared to use the external references in each chapter. There were several times where the explanations are fairly light, but being a popular language it was easy to find the support I was looking for, if not included at the end of the exercise.

The title is certainly accurate – none of the exercises I worked through are directly applicable to work. The exercises were easy enough to follow along, and really help explain what each line of the sample programs is doing – great for someone new to coding in Python.

If nothing else, working through this book as brought my attention back to diving into Python development. I do aim to automate more of my repetitive daily tasks at work, and am hopeful that Python can help with some of this. I had been working through a Python course on Codecademy – something I think I will return to.

Although the exercises were interesting – I now need to find some exercises to help in mapping some these lessons to my work. I picked up Black Hat Python in the hopes of pulling out Python use cases that I can implement right away.

TL;DR

This was a really fun intro-level Python book. The author notes these exercises are geared towards Python beginners, and the code examples do not always follow “best-practice” for professional coding. If you’re new to coding, or new to Python, I would say this is a fun book to pick up and play with.

Useful Links

Paying it Forward

Inspired by Brett Shavers, I would like to pass on this book to someone interested in learning Python. I tried to keep the physical copy in decent shape in the hopes someone else can learn from this book. If you’re interested, reach out with an address to ship to here. First come, first served.

Update: the book has been claimed.

Full disclosure, No Starch did provide a free copy of the book, but did not offer this in exchange for any favorable feedback. The idea is to get information out to the industry, including updates needed to any books.

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