Friday, May 08, 2009

Steve Gilham Reviews IronPython in Action

Steve Gilham has been blogging on and off about IronPython pretty much since the first release of IronPython. We asked him to review IronPython in Action, but it turned out he had already bought it and was intending to review it anyway! This is an extract from the review he has posted:

The task the authors set themselves is an heroic one -- to teach Python to .net programmers, and .net to Python programmers, and, just in case that was not enough, several of the more outré parts of .net, and good programming practices, for just about everybody as well. What makes this a great book is that, in the course of about 450 pages, with copious external citations, they actually succeed.
Part of the secret of the success is that this (like Programming in Scala) is not a beginner's book and assumes the reader has a degree of familiarity with basic programming concepts -- for example, the Python if, for and while statements are covered together in just over a page, with the link collection in Appendix C there in case a more at length treatment is required -- so freeing space for more advanced material to be covered.
The scope of the material covered came as a most pleasant surprise -- when I pre-ordered the book, it was as a gesture of support, because the language deserved a presence in print (after all, I'd been programming since whenever, using .net since it hit 1.0, and IronPython for a couple of years, so not much of it should be exactly new...); when it finally arrived and I could read it, I found there were significant things I could learn from it, new insights and just better ways to achieve some things already did.
In particular, the chapter on testing is pretty much worth the admission price all by itself, simply for the worked example of how to solve that perennial problem -- performing automated testing of a .net GUI application (as opposed to just testing the backing libraries).

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