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Automate the Boring Stuff with Python

Publisher: No Starch Press

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python is a beginner's guide to programming in Python. No matter how long programming languages are around, there will always be a need for these types of books, and this one does what the best of them do. Don't talk down to your audience. Make the subject approachable with some common examples. And yes, remind people you donít need to be the most elite of programmers in order to be allowed to write some code.

To be honest, this book will probably drive veteran programmers a little crazy. The author is upfront about the fact that the ultimate goal of this book is to get code up and running that does a task (aka "quick and dirty"). The examples in this book may not be the most optimized way to do things in Python, but they are done in a way that is easier to understand for a beginner. As long as youíre aware of this while you go through this book, you shouldnít have a problem. And honestly, since this book takes you through the basics of programming such as variables, functions, and regular expressions, veteran programmers will probably soon realize that this is not the book for them.

It seems there was some care taken in writing this book for electronic reading devices like a Kindle or an Android tablet. Or at least, the book happens to be formatted in a way that works for those devices. Numerical signs in the code example correspond to numbers in the text explanations. Instead of having to read a block of code over and over to understand what is happening, you can jump right to the corresponding number. The reason this is so helpful on small screens is because you will often have to jump back and forth between the code block example and the text explanation on another page (this is because the "pages" are so short on a small device). The numerical guides make it easy to go back and forth without losing your place.

There are, of course, diagrams, charts, and other guides to help you understand the concepts in the book. Practice questions at the end of each chapter will also help you make sure youíre grasping the important concepts before you move on. And as is pretty standard, there are also examples of websites you can visit that will make testing your code a bit easier, such as the regexpal site, which will allow you to test regular expressions before you use them in your Python code.

It should be noted that you can try out all the example code in this book in a Windows, OS X, or Linux environment.

But what will this book actually teach you to do? Some of the cool (or perhaps more mischievous) things you can learn is how to build a program that fills out forms for you, or operates some other GUI for you. You can learn how to get the program to recognize certain buttons and then click on them, or give keyboard commands, and even use the mouse at the appropriate time. This book lays enough of the groundwork so that you can even build a program that can play a game for you. Of course, for the gamers visiting, this all sounds very familiar. Bots (often used as a form of cheating in online games) have been notorious since the early days of online gaming. Love them or hate them, you can at least learn a bit about how they are built with this book.

But then the title of the book does talk about "boring" stuff that you can automate. So yes, you can definitely learn to automate things like sending pre-written responses to certain emails, send a text reminder to yourself when certain things happen on your computer, or filling out an Excel spreadsheet. These are tedious tasks that you just know should be easier, but arenít general enough to have pre-built software out there for you. These kinds of tasks are perfect for a small Python program to tackle.

There may be tons of books out there that will help you learn the very same things that this book will teach you. There may be, however, only one style of learning that works for you and where you are presently in your learning path. Automate the Boring Stuff with Python does a great job of not only guiding newbies gently into the Python world, but the programming world as well.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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