Preface

Python is an object-oriented, interpreted programming language useful for a wide range of tasks, from small scripts to entire applications. It is freely available in binary or source code form and can be used royalty-free on all major platforms including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris.

Compared with most programming languages, Python is very easy to learn and is considered by many to be the language of choice for beginning programmers. Instead of outgrowing the language, however, experienced developers enjoy lower maintenance costs without missing out on any features found in other major languages such as C++, Java, or Perl.

Python is well known for its usefulness as a rapid application development tool, and we often hear of Python projects that finish in hours or days instead of the weeks or months that would have been required with traditional programming languages. It boasts a rich, full-featured set of standard libraries as well as the ability to interface with libraries in other languages like C++.

Despite being incredibly powerful and enabling very rapid application development, the real reason we love to use Python is that it's just plain fun. Python is like a lever — with it, you can do some pretty heavy lifting with very little effort. It frees you from lots of annoying, mundane work, and before long you begin to wonder how you endured your pre-Python days.

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