After a gap of 3.5 years, I've finally updated the 'A Byte of Python' book.
The interesting news is that it is updated for the upcoming Python 3.0 language making it probably the first book to be released for Python 3.0.
The book and wiki are now under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The Non-Commercial clause present in the previous edition of the book has been removed. It was becoming a hurdle for translators as well as people who wanted to use the book for genuinely good activities, so I decided it to drop the clause.
Since it is a wiki, volunteers can directly create their translations on the wiki. This eliminates the need to learn DocBook XML and its tools which had become a hindrance for many translators, and I'm glad to see this already bearing fruit with Eirik Vågeskar starting off a Norwegian translation at http://www.swaroopch.com/notes/Python_nb-no:Forord.
I will soon be making a printed version of the book available as I have had many requests for this.
So back to the main question: Why an update after nearly 4 years? Two reasons.
First, because of foss.in. I dedicate this new release to the foss.in community for their spirit and enthusiasm over the years which have rubbed off on me and kept me working on the update of the book.
Second, Over the past few years, the readers' reactions have been simply splendid:
Neil (bigdealneil-at-yahoo-dot-com) said:
"(I) got an if else to work and I can follow your tutorial, which I have never been able to do no matter who wrote the thing! you're a genius Swaroop!"
Gao shuai (ejwjvh-at-126-dot-com) took the effort taken to write an email to me in English:
dear swaroop: I am a chinese student.My name is gao shuai,"gao"is my family name. Although your book is easy to understand,but my english is bad,so what I read is the chinese edition. I have made some programs now.It is interesting.I like it very much.
I emailed back and he replied:
Mr Swaroop: I am exciting to read your back. _(Editor's note: I think he means 'reply')_ Tt is the first time that I talk to foreigner though the internet. I saw that you have your own mail ab.I think You're a great man. Thanks for your back!(*^_^*) regards, gaoshuai
The interesting part is that this student somewhere in China was being benefited by this book and he "talked to a foreigner through the internet for the first time" and that person was me. It was truly humbling.
People are even putting ads for it, and I had no clue about it until I chanced upon it myself:
If that wasn't enough, I found out that there are 8-9 university courses officially using the book, including Harvard and other institutions. And apparently even NASA is using the book in their Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Users have suggested that it should replace the official tutorial but I really wouldn't go as far as that :)
Recently, I had sent a sneak peek for the book's group of readers and within a day, I had the first 10$ donation by Horst JENS. I remembered seeing that name somewhere, so I searched my emails and found this:
On Mar 4, 2007:
"Hello Swaroop, i teach a class of (3) Children how to program in Python. Just want to thank you because without your 'a byte of python' (that i read one year ago) i would maybe never have begun to code in python and consequently would never leaved my old job to become a Python teacher."
A person in Vienna, Austria changed his career from a sys-admin job which he didn't like, to teaching children about programming, a job he loves. Wow! Again, this is so humbling. I could have never imagined that a small book can make such a difference.
The point is that I'm grateful for all these people writing to me and sharing their delight and stories. The book is still alive and kicking thanks to all these people.