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Python tips

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This article lists some tips on learning and using Python.

References Edit

Python interpreter Edit

Running Python interactively, with the interpreter, is a great way to experiment and learn. From the command-line, run:

$ python

You'll be greeted with a version number and a prompt:

Python 2.4.2 (#1, Apr 22 2006, 09:14:13)
[GCC 3.3.6 (Gentoo 3.3.6, ssp-3.3.6-1.0, pie-8.7.8)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>>

You can begin an interactive help session by entering:

>>> help()

This provides access to documentation on all available modules, as well as on Python syntax and other fundamentals.

Interpreter basics Edit

You can use the interpreter as a simple calculator:

>>> 1152 + 224
1376
>>> 720 * 480
345600

Or for manipulating text:

>>> "two cups of coffee".replace("two", "four")
'four cups of coffee'

You can assign things to variables, for later use:

>>> pal = 720 * 576
>>> ntsc = 720 * 480
>>> print "PAL has %s more pixels than NTSC" % (pal - ntsc)

Or make lists of things:

>>> groceries = ['milk', 'eggs', 'bananas']
>>> groceries
['milk', 'eggs', 'bananas']
>>> groceries.sort()
>>> groceries
['bananas', 'eggs', 'milk']
>>> print "%s things on the grocery list" % len(groceries)
3 things on the grocery list

See An Informal Introduction to Python and Guide to Python introspection for more on the basics of using the interpreter.

Other tips Edit

  • Docstrings: Keep your documentation close to the source!


Software Edit

  • IDLE, the Python built-in IDE, with autocompletion, function signature popup help, and file editing
  • IPython, another enhanced Python shell with tab-completion and other features
  • Eric3, a GUI Python IDE with autocompletion, class browser, built-in shell and debugger
  • WingIDE, commercial Python IDE with free license available to open-source developers

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