TER Volume 14, Number 1, June 2007: Review of wxPython in Action

Technology Electronic Reviews
Volume 14, Number 1, June 2007

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REVIEW OF: Noel Rappin and Robin Dunn. (2006). wxPython in Action. Greenwich, CT: Manning Publishing Co. (ISBN: 1932394621 ; 9781932394627). 620 pp. $49.95.

By Chris Huff

The Python programming language is well-known for its use in applications and frameworks such as Zope, Django, Turbogears, and Plone. The language is equally adept for use in smaller, script-level tasks and for teaching programming. For Python GUI development, Tkinter continues to be part of the standard binary installation and the most popular choice. But wxPython has maintained a close second in popularity. In his 2006 edition of Programming Python, Mark Lutz notes that one of wxPython's shortcomings is its comparative lack of documentation, in particular no book offerings. Now, Noel Rappin and Robin Dunn have made-up for this shortcoming with their wxPython In Action, released in March 2006. wxPython In Action is a welcome addition to Manning Publications' "In Action" series. It matches well with Manning's Quick Python Book and well-received Python and Tkinter Programming, though both these titles are ripe for newer editions. And Wesley Chun's Core Python may be a better choice to cover Python programming.

wxPython In Action is intended as an introduction only to wxPython itself and therefore provides hardly any introduction to Python programming or to general GUI programming techniques. Readers with little understanding of Python should definitely read this book in conjunction with an introduction to Python programming. wxPython In Action is divided into three main sections: an introduction to wxPython concepts, a tutorial covering its most common features and a concluding section on advanced or less used features. The book does an excellent job of covering each of these areas. The tutorials are short and engaging, accompanied by code that is representative of the concepts at hand. The salient sections of these code examples contain citation highlighted numbers that refer to correlating sections in the text -- this makes it especially easy to refer back and forth between code examples and text explanations. The book ends abruptly and would benefit by having a concluding chapter, perhaps discussing how the covered wxPython techniques can be integrated into production applications.

Appropriately, the book does not attempt to present a complete reference to all of wxPython's features, but instead gives the reader a thorough overview of how to interact with and understand its most common features. The online documentation for Python <www.python.org> and wxPython <www.wxpython.org> continues to be the best source for the most detailed and current coverage of Python and its associated tools. But where a printed text is wanted, wxPyton in Action is recommended for any beginner or advanced Python programmer who is interested in learning to use wxPython to produce cross-platform GUI applications.

Companion books include any of the several titles on Python programming and GUI programming listed at < http://wiki.python.org/moin/PythonBooks>.

Chris Huff is Systems Librarian, Ingram Library at the University of West Georgia.

Copyright TER LITA Library Technology Reviews 2007 by Chris Huff. This document may be reproduced in whole or in part for noncommercial, educational, or scientific purposes, provided that the preceding copyright statement and source are clearly acknowledged. All other rights are reserved. For permission to reproduce or adapt this document or any part of it for commercial distribution, address requests to the author.

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