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Last Post by Schol-R-LEA

The first thing I would recommend in starting out with Python is finding a good Integrated Development Environment, oe IDE; while IDLE, the one that comes with Python, is passable, it is not really new-user friendly and takes a bit of getting used to. Unfortunately, 'good' is very subjective when it comes to IDEs, so you might find yourself trying a few before you come across the best fit. This thread and this one discuss the matter at length, without really giving a solid answer, for example. My personal choices are PyCharm (if you are willing to shell out for it) and Eric (which is free), but they might be a bit overwhelming to a novice. If you are planning to stick with Python 2 - not recommended, but many do - then Dr Python is excellent for novices. Still, you need to try a few out to get the one you are comfortbale with.

So why is the IDE so important, when all you really need is Notepad and an open shell window? Convenience, primarily. A good Python IDE will have both an editing window and an interpreter window in plain sight, making it easy to use the Python listener (the interactive interpreter) to test things in, while still having access to the program you are writing. Also, a good IDE makes it easier to work with more than one source module, when you get to that point in your programming, with 'package' or 'project' managers to keep things straight for you. Finally, a good IDE will have features for command line arguments and environment management. IDLE, while simple, falls down on all these things, and is clumsy to work with.

Regardless of the IDE you choose, I recommend starting off experimenting and getting familiar with the Python interactive interpreter before trying to write any scripts. Sit down with the listener open (either in a command shell like Windows PowerShell, or in your choice of IDE), and just play around with it. try some simple one-line expressions and see what they do. Keep in mind, though, that what you do in the interactive interpreter isn't saved, so when you feel like you want to write something permanent, go to your editor window and write it out there.

FInally, while videos are helpful, I recommend finding a good book to really learn the language well. IMAO, the best one right now is Think Python, an updated version of the classic How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. You can buy the print or Kindle version, but the whole book is also available online, as well. It is an excellent start, even though it does use some non-standard libraries, and goes step by step through the whole thing. An alternative would be Dive Into Python 3, which is also excellent but geared a bit more towards experienced programmers. A bit more challenging but in some ways more effective is Learn Python the Hard Way, while is free to try but you would need to buy it for the full course, which combined an online book with several videos if I am not mistaken. It also covers details not found in other books, like how to look up things with Google effectively and how to use the interactive interpreter from the shell.

Edited by Schol-R-LEA

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