Saturday, May 30, 2009

Two Englishmen Named Tim Review IronPython in Action

In the last couple of weeks two Englishmen called Tim have posted reviews of IronPython in Action.

Tim Anderson is a technical writer who specialises in writing about Microsoft technologies. As well as writing for the Guardian he blogs regularly and has just reviewed IronPython in Action:
It is aimed at Python programmers who do not know .NET, and .NET programmers who do not know Python, rather than at existing IronPython developers. The authors run through the basics of Python and its .NET integration, so that by the end of Part 1 you could write a simple Windows Forms application. Part 2 is on core development techniques and covers duck typing, model-view-controller basics, handling XML, unit and functional testing, and metaprogramming – this is where you generate and execute code at runtime.

It’s a well-written book and fulfils its purpose nicely. I like the way the book is honest about areas where IronPython is more verbose or awkward than C# or VB.NET As someone who knows .NET well, but Python little, I could have done without all the introductory .NET explanations, but I understand why they are there. I particularly liked part two, on core programming techniques, which is a thought-provoking read for any developer with an interest in dynamic languages.
Tim Golden is a Windows Python guru. He is the author of the Python WMI module which interfaces Python to Windows Management Instrumentation. Tim's help was invaluable in writing the WMI section of the system administration chapter of IronPython in Action. This earns him a mention or two in the footnotes, a fact Tim notes in his review...
By way of disclosure, I’m given a couple of blushingly generous footnote credits by Michael which naturally leave me feeling well-disposed towards the book as a whole. But even without those, I’d be giving it the thumbs-up.

But the most important win, I think, is managing to write a book about IronPython, not about Python or .NET. Naturally there is an element of explanation involved in both directions when some feature is being introduced or compared. But for the most part you can refer to the appendices which give summaries of Python/.NET if an unfamiliar term arises. For me, this achievement is key to the success of a book like this.

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