Holden, S. (2014) ‘Intermediate Python’ (O’Reilly Media Inc; Sebastopol; California)

Intermediate_PythonThis is the second installment in the video series on Python programming released by O’Reilly Media. The course ‘Intermediate Python – Practical Techniques for Deeper Skill Development’ is presented by Steve Holden, an experienced programmer with 20+ years experience in Python programming. The course is aimed at programmers that “know some Python but not too much” and who “want to increase” their “level of competence and broaden the range of tasks” that they “can undertake” (cf. Video 2).

Unlike the previous video series by Jessica McKellar, there is no thread between lessons. None of the topics explored in the 32 videos/chapters are connected except in that they are topics relating to Python. The series consists of 25 core videos, 2 introductory videos, 1 video dedicated to closing the course, 1 video on how to use the Internet to search for Python-related code or help files; and 3 extraneous videos (1 about a poem, 1 on a cartoon series and the other on the import-this module).

Of the 25 core videos I felt only 11 were satisfactory; most were poorly presented and repetitive. In my opinion the entire video series would have been better presented as a book with explanatory text. Using videos to work through a list of examples of how certain functions or methods work is both ineffective and tedious. The series would have done better to show how these functions and methods could be used in a number of simple programs, providing context and connectivity between lessons.

In summary, I do not believe that the video series achieves it’s stated objective of broadening the “range of tasks” the reader would be able to undertake. The video series is just a random set of facts and techniques presented out of context. If you don’t understand when particular techniques should be used you will not get much from the overviews provided. I am finding it hard to justify more than 2 out of 5 for this video series and would not recommend it to a friend.

Some technical points worth noting are listed here for thoroughness:

  • Chapter 2 introduces iPython as Steve’s preferred console but neglects to explain to the viewer how to get the HTML console installed and working on their machine. Steve also discusses the GitHub repository for the course’s notebooks but again neglects to explain to the user how this repository can be cloned. Considering the skill level of the target audience this information should be provided.
  • In Chapter 12, Steve when discussing sqlite’s use of SQL states that it “leaves a little bit to be desired” but is “perfectly good for practice” (cf. 3:14). I personally have a problem with such derogatory statements that are not supported by suitably authoritative evidence.
  • In Chapter 20 the video stops before Steve has finished speaking.

My Rating

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