Python Resources

From Simson Garfinkel
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Learning Python

I've reviewed these resources and highly recommend them.

If you have never programmed with Python before, you may want to start with DataCamp's Learn python by example:

If you want to just read, I recommend starting with the Python Tutorial:

If you have not programmed before, you may try:

If you have programmed before, at this point I recommend:

Using Python

Recommended packages and tools for different tasks

Developer Tools

  • PyCharm
  • Jupyter Notebook

Numerical Data Processing

  • numpy - numeric analysis in python (needed for matplotlib)
  • pandas or SparkSQL
  • tabulate - create tables easily (but see my tytable replacement)

Date Data

String Formatting

Image Manipulation

  • Use Pillow, the Python2/3 fork of Python Image Library (PIL).

Fun examples:

Text Processing

See Text processing notes.


Easy Graphics


Database Access

Python contains built-in support for SQLite3.

For using MySQL, you'll need a connector. There are many available.

Install MySQL connector on anaconda:

   conda install mysql-connector-python

Then you can:

   import mysql.connector as mysql
   c = mysql.connect(host=host,database=db,user=user,password=password)

I generally prefer PyMySQL, as it's pure-python and has fewer dependencies.

Python GUI Options

I need to write some programs that use GUI.

  • pyqt - Use PyQT5 (it's part of Anaconda)
  • FLTK, the Fast Light Toolkit

Building Web Applications

You basically have two options:

  • Write a CGI script (slow, but easy. Don't use for more than 1 request every 10 seconds)
  • Some sort of Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI). Options include:
    • Bottle (easy, and the whole thing runs from a single file)
    • Flask (can run on Apache with Passenger, but needs its own domain name)
    • Writing your own (don't do this.)

The WSGI server needs to be run from a program that receives the Port80 connections. The two ways I've done this are:

  • mod_wsgi running within Apache. (This works surprisingly well and allows you to run bottle or flask side-by-side other systems)
  • CherryPy (Includes its own web server and will hand off to Bottle or Flas.)

For more information, see:

If you are using anything other CGI, you need some way to tell the web server to reload your python program. (You don't need to do this with CGI---it reloads Python and your program every time you serve another request. That's why it's so slow...)

To reload your program on Dreamhost with passenger:

   $ touch tmp/restart.txt         # reload your program

To reload your program with mod_wsgi:

   $ touch 

Using Passengers on Dreamhost:

Python Installation

If you are using a Mac, you almost certainly want to ditch Apple's python implementation and instead install your own.

I now recommend the Anaconda Python distribution, because it has almost everything that you need, and it's easy to add new modules.

If you want to write a Python program with a GUI that can be run on any system, you'll need to use Tkinter (Python's Tcl/Tk bindings). If you want to actually enjoy what you are writing, you want to use PyQT5..

Advanced Python