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Today kicks off our Introductory Python “Bootcamp.” In this week-long blog series, we’ll explore the key concepts behind this popular and flexible programming language in five sessions. You’ll learn this new skill from scratch using just the videos, chapters, and exercises in Safari Flow. Learning a new language can be intimidating; this five-day series is our way of getting you started.

Open a Safari Flow trial account to access the Bootcamp books and videos.

We will be publishing a new bootcamp session every day this week. By Friday, you will be able to build your own simple applications. If you are new to Safari Flow, sign up today for a free 10-day trial and learn Python for free.

This will be an intense week – but who said learning a new skill would be easy? While the bootcamp can be completed in a week, we understand that not everyone has the time to do it all at once. Take each session at your own speed. For some the bootcamp will take a week; for others, it could take a month. The important thing is that you are taking the first step towards learning a new skill.

Let’s get started.

Bootcamp header- Intro to Python Day 1
With session 1, we are going to start by setting up Python on your computer and introducing key concepts like variables, control flow, and data structures.
Jump in the deep end
Start with these short videos. If you follow along, you’ll be working with Python in minutes.
From Python Guide for the Total Beginner LiveLessons

From Quickstart Python

Next, check out chapter 2 from Python® Programming for the Absolute Beginner – Types, Variables, and Simple I/O.
Let’s start typing
To start applying what you learned, try your hand at these exercises from Learn Python the Hard Way. (Pro tip: it’s not really hard!)

Get inspired

Many people learn programming in order to start a new business or excel in their current role. For inspiration, watch Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc. talk about “How I Failed” or hear Kate Matsudaira, Founder & CEO of Popforms ask, “What *Do* You Do All Day?” or hear Scott Chacon of Github describe “Leading from First Principles.”  These three talks were given at this year’s Cultivate conference and provide perspectives on tech leadership and strategy – context to consider as you develop new skills to master your craft or advance your career.

Too easy?

As you go through these exercises, you may realize that you need to go deeper in some topics. Here are some great reference chapters, all taken from O’Reilly’s Learning Python, 5th Edition.

That’s it for day one! If you run into any problems, let us know. Post your feedback in the comments below. 

Ready for Session 2?

How are we doing?

Do you love the “bootcamp” concept? Hate it? Already know Python but would love to use Safari Flow to learn another skill? Let us know which one! We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Also, if you have friends who might want to learn Python and join the bootcamp, let them know! Follow us on Twitter and be sure to Like our Facebook page.

Tags: Bootcamp, Intro to Python,

13 Responses to “Ready to learn Python?”

  1. equivariance

    This is a nice idea, but even on the very first day, the lessons are going bad.

    When the instructor reaches the following code to be entered into IDLE, the whole thing gets screwed up:
    if items > 5:
    print “Shipping is Free”

    I am getting a syntax error as soon as I hit “else:”

    The instructor offers no hint about what might be going wrong, and instead gives a lot of very hard to follow business
    about the three dots and which editor one is using and whether to indent and so on. I have no clue what she is talking about.

    I guess I am not completely dumb: I do have a PHD in theoretical physics, and I am proficient in LaTeX and also EMACS.

    Please take the time to make a good course, rather than offering instructions that break down on lesson one!

    Thank you.


    • Liza Daly

      Sorry you ran into trouble, Doug. I suspect that you didn’t indent the lines inside the ‘if’ statement. One of the unique features of Python is that ‘whitespace’ (tabs or spaces) is meaningful; if they’re wrong, you’ll get an error.

      Here’s a code sample that should reproduce your error and show you how to move forward:

      • schroding

        Thank you, Liza. I do appreciate your prompt reply.

        I was able to resolve my trouble by essentially abandoning the what I guess we call the “IDLE Shell” and going instead to enter, save and run a full blown program file,

        In general it is quite clear that the seminar person knows a lot. At the same time, I occasionally think to myself “well, its a good thing I am not a complete novice, because she is going a little fast in this spot…”

        I.e., the video is acceptable, but in some places its not nearly so careful as, say, “Python for Dummies” might be, in slowly telling novices what-the-heck-is-going-on.

        I do a lot of teaching and writing physics / astronomy for novices – mainly for elderly people over age 50. I know that I must always assume nothing and go slowly and repeat myself, and so on…

        Again, thanks for your prompt reply.


  2. schroding

    Dear Liza,

    I am halfway done with lesson 1.5, and I still haven’t heard how to put comments into the program file.

    I am very big on comments: my latex and emacs files contain so many comments it is not funny…

    How can I do comments in a python file, please?



    • Liza Daly

      In Python you preface comments with a ‘#’ sign. See my code sample above; I use comments there.

      The main virtue of a subscription site like Safari Flow is that there’s a variety of books and videos that you can choose from. If the video lesson in the bootcamp isn’t meeting your needs, try some of these beginner Python books:

      Head First Python

      Learning Python

      Learn Python the Hard Way (which is used in the bootcamp, and some of our team has used to learn)

      • schroding

        Dear Liza,

        Thank you again, for the prompt reply.

        The comments tag works like a charm; thanks! As I said, I am always happiest when I am writing comments…

        For the other suggestions, I hear you. However, I do want to go ahead with the bootcamp,
        actually, at least for the time being and see how that goes. Maybe will add another reference later on…


  3. Josh

    The bootcamp format is perfect! I would love to see a continuation to take students from beginner to intermediate to advanced, and to see these become an integrated part of Safari Flow.

    In the meantime, I’m following this week’s sessions.

  4. Ron

    I love the series so far; if there’s one thing that really interests me about Safari Flow, it’s the potential for semi-structured courses like this. The only thing that gave me trouble was that I have Python 3.1 and some of these materials (Quick Start and Hard Way, I believe) still use Python 2. It’s not a lot of work to change ‘print “Hello world”‘ to ‘print (“Hello world”)’, but if I were brand new to Python, or programming in general, that could have been frustrating.

    • Liza Daly

      It’s a tough call right now, since until recently it wasn’t possible to use Python 3 in a lot of popular contexts like the Django web framework. We’re still on Python 2 at Safari and aren’t in a hurry to move, as many open-source libraries still need upgrades before a full migration is viable. I agree that it’s especially challenging for beginners too.


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