McKellar, J. (2014) ‘Introduction to Python’ (O’Reilly Media Inc; Sebastopol; California)

Introduction_to_PythonThe video series ‘Introduction to Python’ by Jessica McKellar (published by O’Reilly Media Inc) is a well-paced course on basic Python constructs and on how to create simple command line programs using Python.

I felt the timing and flow of the content was quite good and very easy to follow in this introductory series. The presenter, Jessica McKellar, regularly re-enforces earlier topics and allows enough time for the reader to evaluate what has been said before proceeding — you can tell she regularly tutors people new to Python and programming.

I would feel quite comfortable in recommending this excellent video series to anyone interested in learning to program with Python. As this matches the presumed targeted audience (based on the title) I have no problem scoring this resource 5 out of 5.

A point worth mentioning for people considering purchasing this series is that the videos, at present, only come in MP4 format. I found that I could watch the videos on my desktop (Ubuntu 13.10) and phone (Android 4.4.2) but not on my tablet (Android 4.0.4). If you only have one device available then you may wish to download the first few videos that are provided for free to see if your software can read the files. Hopefully O’Reilly will consider providing videos in multiple formats in the future (like they do with the eBooks) to avoid excluding potential viewers. I did also note that in some videos the audio went out of sync in a number of spots depending on which program you viewed the video with (and presumably the codecs they rely on).

Although not detracting from the content it is worth noting that the videos contain a few silly errors or typos. They are listed here for thoroughness but really do not have any significant impact on the course except to give the impression that the videos were not reviewed by a copy-editor before publication.

  • The slide introducing Chapter 4 misspelt the word ‘compound’
  • The presenter refers to the three chevrons used to represent the Python prompt as carets
  • Code presented and run in Chapter 16 on ‘Word Play’ (time stamp 11:28 minutes) should not run as the return command is not indented correctly but does run. When the presenter returns to the program file after reviewing the output the error has been miraculously corrected.
  • In Chapter 17 when creating a casino program using classes, the presenter creates a list of potential playing cards — her deck contains both a Number 1 card and an Ace (Time Stamp 18:04 minutes). I imagine the Gaming Commission would have something to say about a 56 card pack!

My only other comment is related more to presentation style. The video series shows the presenter quite often throughout the series. I quite like this approach but found Jessica tended to review her notes quite regularly while on camera meaning she was looking down rather than at the viewer, which significantly reduced the impact of the face-to-face one-to-one experience that I think the video series has going for it.

My Rating

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