Thursday, June 04, 2009

An Australian, a Frenchman and an American read IronPython in Action

In the last couple of weeks three new reviews of IronPython in Action have gone online, and by reviewers from three different continents.

The first is from Tarn Barford who is an Australian .NET programmer with an interest in IronPython. He has blogged and presented about IronPython, and now he has reviewed IronPython in Action:
IronPython in Action is a fantastic resource for anyone learning IronPython and for anyone wondering what this dynamic language IronPython is all about and whether they should learn it. It feels nicely balanced for both .NET users looking to learn about IronPython, and for Python users looking to learn about IronPython on .NET.

I prefer software books that have plenty of discussion and can be read from start to finish otherwise I end up skipping through chapters I never go back too. I found this book well written and fun to read with interesting insight all the way through. There is enough about the python language and .NET to get you through the book, and rather than being a reference book it instead provides information on how to learn more.
Matt Brucher is a French Python programmer with an interest in scientific computing. His review (in English) describes the contents of the book which I think he liked:
IronPython is the first dynamic language developed for the .Net platform. At first, .Net didn’t support this kind of language. This is something that keeps on coming back throughout the book: you have to use some additional tricks to unleash the power of .Net dynamic and static languages.

As a conclusion, those who need a dynamic language (to script an application) can go for IronPython, the first dynamic language for the .Net framework, compatible with the language Python 2.5, and in that case, go for this book that will help you for anything.
The final review of this trio is by the token American Scott Koon, who is a well known .NET developer under his nom-de-blog Lazycoder:
I’ve always wanted to use Python more but it’s difficult because the .NET Framework is such a walled garden in terms of interoperability with other programming languages. Mostly I use it to write little one off scripts when I want to move a bunch of files around or parse some text. I was really excited when Manning asked to to review IronPython in Action because I wanted to dive a little deeper into Python and possibly use it in some web applications. “IronPython in Action” makes it easy to get started using IronPython right away.

Chapter 7 discusses agile testing and unit testing using IronPython. I almost dropped the book in amazement. Unit testing is almost never mentioned in any language book and is relegated to a niche or advanced topic. Find a book about any other .NET language that mentions unit testing that doesn’t have the word “testing” in the title. This alone sets the quality of this book far above other language books I have read. It’s not just enough, in my opinion, to discuss the syntax of the language. You have to teach the reader how to use the language in your everyday work.

My overall feeling about this book is that it’s a great book. The authors use the same humor and dry wit that Python is known for to great effect. Making the digestion of a very different language easier. I’m sure that as I continue to experiment with IronPython that I’ll keep this book close at hand.

My favourite quote from all these reviews is from Scott's: "If anything exposes the cruel, unnecessary complexity of .NET, it’s got to be a Winforms app." Actually I quite like Windows Forms, but it's still a good quote.

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