Learning Python In A Flash…

… card.

Python Flash Cards: Syntax, Concepts, and Examples is a new book-not-a-book that helps people who are staring out learning the Python programming language.

First, lets get one thing straight about Phython. If you (or, maybe, your kid) is going to learn to code, you’ve got to learn Python. It isn’t the only coding language out there, and depending on what you do with coding, Python might be something you do all the time or almost never. But it is a good bet that the arbitrary future coder will be coding in Python in the future.

Python is both simple and complex, easy and hard. I think it is probably easier for people who have never previously coded to learn than for old timers who cut their teeth on structured languages. Python actually is structured, but it is also object oriented. If you don’t know the difference between the two, don’t worry. Suffice it to say that the following works:

This is using a command interpreter, demonstrating that Python is sort of like a command line language if you want it to be. I entered Python statements and got instant results. That is not how Python is usually run, but it can be helpful.

Notice that I created a “list” which is an object that includes a list of things. I cleverly made the list, in its original form, a sentence of sorts. I then printed it so you could see that the list indeed has stuff in it. What I did there could be done in a similar form in virtually any language, though the concept of a “list” in Python (as opposed to the very similar “array” or “matrix” in other languages) is much more powerful than demonstrated here.

Then, I did the object-oriented thing. I called up the list (“aList”) but with a dot followed by a thing that made that list change. It became sorted. I then printed it.

Anyway, enough messing around. Python is a great and powerful Oz of a language, and it is very widely used, which means that there are a LOT of powerful libraries that can be drawn on to do a lot of things.

If you, or your kid, plays around with a Raspberry Pi, then you’ll want to learn Python because that is the handiest way to program it.

So, back to the Python Flash Cards. There are helpful and just plain fun. As you learn concepts, you can go through the cards and use them exactly like flash cards (because they are actual flash cards) to both review and backfill gaps in your knowledge.

The topics on the cards range from “what is a string” to how to loop through lists (yes, you can loop through a list) to how to define classes and methods (that’s object-oriented stuff, where you make your own object oriented mojo like the “sort” thingie we used above).

The author is Eric Matthes, a high school science and math teacher in Alaska. He teaches introductory programming classes. He is the author of the previously reviewed and highly recommended Python Crash Course: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming, which goes nicely with the flash cards.

The flash cards are not available yet but will be out in a few days. You can pre-order. They will come in time for the holidays, and they are, in fact, a great holiday gift for your 11 year old future programmer.

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