help me learn python ...
March 7, 2012 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for a Python tutorial for someone with no programming experience?

I'd like to learn some Python basics for data analysis purposes. I'm overwhelmed by the torrent of tutorials that pop up with a google seach. Where to start? Has anyone out there learned Python as their first programming language? I was wondering if any folks could recommend a particular resource (website, book, etc) for someone with nearly zero programming experience and very little knowledge of computer science in general ... i.e., I need to start at the very beginning. Any advice would be much appreciated!
posted by phoenix_rising to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Learn Python The Hard Way

Don't the the title scare you, this is actually one of the best guides out there.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:00 PM on March 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is a good one:
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 3:00 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I, too, recommend Learn Python the Hard Way!
posted by dgeiser13 at 3:06 PM on March 7, 2012

Dive into Python (and the Python 3 version) are also great ways to learn. You're probably best off working with Python 2.7 for now as a lot of packages are not yet compatible with Python 3.
posted by yerfatma at 3:40 PM on March 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I learned using a book called Core Python <- Amazon link. I don't know if there are better books out there, it was the only Python book in our local bookstore, but it worked for me.
posted by JHarris at 3:42 PM on March 7, 2012

The thing about Python to remember is, it's not hard. You almost don't need a book to learn in, there are plenty of websites that offer beginner-level information on it. Here's PythonInfo Wiki's list of guides for those without prior programming experience, and here's the list for people with programming experience.

Of particular note: Khan Academy now teaches Python!
posted by JHarris at 3:52 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm on Chapter 40 of Learn Python the Hard Way -- as of today at lunchtime, actually. I've been pursuing it off and on since last December, and am making slow headway.

It's my first programming language since BASIC in the late 1980s, and frankly, it is hard. For me, anyway.

LPTHW can be frustrating in that it teaches by doing; sometimes it feels like it's teaching by rote. There's no real why to what you're learning, just a lot of stuff that you learn what it does. I found Stack Overflow to be a boundless resource to help me when I got stuck with the book.

I actually found Snake Wrangling for Kids to be a very useful complementary resource in the early going, when I finally accepted that I needed to suck up my pride and read a book intended for 8-year-olds to wrap my head around some of the basic stuff.

Where I'm at now is that I realize I need to do stuff with what I learn, or I don't retain it. I'm exploring options to let me put some of my Python tests online, so I can explore making simple tools to stick up on a server to help me concretize what I'm learning from LPTHW in my head. My main problem now is that I'll learn something and then not have to use it for many chapters, then have no recollection of how it worked when I have to make use of it again.
posted by Shepherd at 4:27 PM on March 7, 2012

Dive into Python is good for programmers who want to learn Python (specifically Java programmers). Learn python the hard way is...hard.

Have you read through the official tutorial in the docs?
posted by bensherman at 5:00 PM on March 7, 2012

I like this youtube tutorial. I haven't finished it but I have found it easy to follow so far. I have no programming experience.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2012

Take the CS101 course on It's really thorough, there's good homework, and there's even a TA.
posted by phoebus at 10:09 PM on March 7, 2012

Seconding phoebus. I'm enrolled in the program and find it quite interesting and the fact that there are deadlines and video lectures and quizzes, makes it more engaging than just reading through a book.
posted by epiphinite at 4:00 AM on March 8, 2012

Thanks so much everyone for your answers! I'll check these resources out. I appreciate all the advice!
posted by phoenix_rising at 5:47 AM on March 8, 2012

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