Two things that make Python attractive are that it’s a free download and that it comes with a free development environment, IDLE. Your first lesson starts off with a brief tour of both the language and the environment. You will see that with IDLE, you can either execute individual statements directly at the interpreter’s prompt or save your commands in a program file to be run later.
Programs aren’t terribly useful unless you have some way to store values in memory. In this lesson, you will get up to speed with Python variables, and then you will learn how to use these variables to get input from the user. With this, you will be able to write Python code to make your programs interactive, making them more useful and a lot more interesting.
There are many times when you will want one set of statements run in one situation and another set run in a different situation. For that, you will need to use Python’s if decision structure. In this lesson, you will practice with Python’s if syntax and learn how to write both simple and complex conditions to select which statements should be run.
Keeping with the theme of programming structures, this lesson is all about the repetition structure. You will learn how to write both while and for loops in Python so that your statements can be repeated over and over until some condition is met. You will also learn some looping features that are unique to Python that help to make your programs more powerful.
Modular programming gives you the ability to write code once, give it a name, and then call on it by name at a later time. In this lesson, you will learn how to write modular programs by creating functions. You will also learn how to pass data into the functions and then to return values back, building on this knowledge as you proceed through the course.
Building on the concept of modular programming, this lesson explores object-oriented programming. This is a popular technique and you will get an introduction to how it’s done in Python. You will learn how to create a class definition and place variables and functions inside. Then later, you will use this class to create some objects and work with them to solve simple problems.
It’s time to take some of the topics previously covered and apply them to something a little more creative. This lesson focuses on Python graphics. You will create simple shapes and practice writing programs that simulate animation. By the end of the lesson, you will be able to watch your shapes move across the screen.
Now that you’re comfortable with the decision and repetition structures, as well as ways to organize your code, it’s now time to turn to ways of managing your data. This lesson looks at two of Python’s basic data structures: lists and tuples. You will learn how to create these types of variables and use them to manage data for your programs.
While lists and tuples are useful structures, they put the burden on you to keep track of your data’s position within the structure. However, the dictionary structure gives you the ability to associate a word with each piece of data. In this lesson, you will learn how to use dictionaries to write useful programs in fewer lines of code that’ll execute in a shorter amount of time.
Programs that work with data in memory are great. However, it’s also important to be able to save the data in a file for later use. In this lesson, you will learn how to read from and write to data files. You will also learn about Python’s shelve feature, which is a database-like file that allows for quick and easy access to large amounts of data.
Unfortunately, programs sometimes encounter problems. In object-oriented terms, you would call this an exception. If the exception isn’t handled, the program will crash. In this lesson, you will learn about Python’s exceptions and learn how to handle them to keep the program up and running, even when something unexpected happens.
You will finish the course by exercising the creative part of your brain again. This time, you will learn how to create a graphical user interface (GUI) in Python. Now you will be able to integrate all the conceptual material that you learned in the course with an attractive, easy to use interface to make for useful, interactive programs.