Product Description
The Insider’s Best-Practice Guide to Rapid PyQt 4 GUI DevelopmentWhether you’re building GUI prototypes or full-fledged cross-platform GUI applications with native look-and-feel, PyQt 4 is your fastest, easiest, most powerful solution. Qt expert Mark Summerfield has written the definitive best-practice guide to PyQt 4 development.With Rapid GUI Programming with Python and Qt you’ll learn how to build efficient GUI applications that run on all major operating … More >>

Rapid GUI Programming with Python and Qt

5 thoughts on “Rapid GUI Programming with Python and Qt”

  1. For any open source programming tool, there are always those who are quick to point out that free online documentation is of excellent quality and that a commercially published book adds questionable value. Indeed, the open process by which open source tools are made, which reveals the why’s & wherefore’s of the internal workings to anyone who looks, leads directly to the production of excellent online documentation; this is one of the great strengths of open source software. But everyone’s needs are different. A college student or free software volunteer often has looser deadlines, less budget, and a more perfectionist attitude than, for example, a non-expert programmer, working in industry, trying to expeditiously solve a specific problem. A book of this genre is intended mainly for the latter audience, whereas the former may be disappointed at spending $50 when a web browser could have done the job. Cash-strapped college students, I know your pain; I used to be one. This book is not a particularly cost-effective study aid. If you live and breathe GUI progamming and can type out GTK2 and wxwidget classes by heart, then this book is probably a waste of time for you.

    Having said that, I review this book with a view toward its value to its intended audience: Does buying this book and using it get the job done $50 cheaper, including the value of your own professional time, compared to the best available alternative? My experience is yes.

    I am an electrical engineer, but not a programming expert. I have, at various times in my career, flipped bits in assembly language, suffered the rigors of Fortran, and slapped together contraptions in Matlab, VEE, Labview, etc. I have also had the misfortune of programming production test automation in Visual Basic, because that is what commercial instruments natively support. It is the shortcomings of VB that bring me to PyQT. I need to write test code that is portable, maintainable, and reliable. To give just one example, I don’t want to fly across the Pacific Ocean to program workarounds for bugs in VB, because machines in the Chinese factory run Win98, and my development system in the US runs Win2k, and VB doesn’t behave the same. But this is a book review, not a place to extol the virtues of PyQT nor criticize VB.

    I have programmed in Python before, though for me Python has always been a language for one-off numerical or string processing tasks, where a spreadsheet is too limited and my bash script-fu is short of the task. I found the first three chapters on Python a helpful review, though it is not a complete instruction in Python. Compete beginners to Python will probably want to buy a separate book or work through the python.org tutorials. The author glosses over things that could trip up beginners; tellingly, he uses the term ‘pythonic’ without introduction. He is, however, careful to point out pitfalls that can waylay real-world production code, or would be of interest to experienced Perl/Ruby/VB programmers, like how Python handles the distinctions regarding {im}mutable types and {deep|shallow} copying.

    I have never programmed QT before, and this book is indeed a complete introduction to QT. You don’t need to know anything about QT nor how to program in C++ (QT’s native language). Being able to read C++ syntax helps, though, because this book is not a QT reference, so you will probably have to look things up in the online QT references, which are written in C++.

    It is something of a truism that the best way to learn a language is to read & understand someone else’s well-written code, and then use that to write a program of your own. That is the approach used here, and the printed book format permits interleaving fragments of code with explanatory material in a way that doesn’t work well on a computer screen. As such the text complements rather than duplicates the online documentation.

    Regarding the book as a physical object, the quality is good but some extra features would have been nice. No CD is included, which I consider an oversight for a book at this price. Even the shortest examples lack source code listings, except as snippets woven into the text. You have to download the example code from a URL buried in the introduction, which is odd considering how important the example code is to this style of instruction. Occasional sidebar topics, icons, and cross-references help to organize the material, though not to the spoon-feeding level of “For {Dummies|Idiots}” books. The index is a bit above average for a book of this type, better than pure machine-generated grep output that sometimes passes for an index these days, but not as good as the best manual indices of decades past. The cover, binding, & paper stock are of decent quality. The book will stay open to just about any page when laid on a table, and the glue looks like it will, well probably, hold the sheaves in for many years. No color is used, nor edge printing to help find the chapters, which would have been helpful for a book this long.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  2. I needed a book to help me through connecting Python and QT together so that I could write GUI programs in Python. This book definitely did that for me so I am satisfied.

    This book is written as a classroom textbook, not as a reference. Part I is on Python programming (the first 100 of 500+ pages). I did not need that but in the context of a textbook it’s good to have everything between two covers.

    I like the fact that it covers a broad range of material beyond GUI programming including database access and model/view programming. I think I will be digging into it for quite some time.

    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. I bought “Rapid GUI Programming with Python and Qt” (Summerfield) and “Programming Python” (Lutz) in order to help me write my first Python software application, a program whose development would require an understanding of Python, Qt, PyQt, and relational databases. I found Summerfield’s book very useful.

    The first few chapters brought me up to speed on Python itself. The chapters which dealt with PyQt were of course the most detailed and the most useful. I found myself getting frustrated with the “Dance of the Seven Veils”: the book would touch on a topic briefly, explain how important it was, give an example, then hurry away to cover something else. By the time we got to the meaty, more thoroughly-explored examples, I was confused and slightly lost. Google filled in the gaps, so in the end it was all worth it.

    In defense of this book’s “A little bit of everything” style, I must point out that a toolkit of Qt’s size and complexity cannot be covered thoroughly by a single text, in my opinion anyway. Summerfield took on an impossible task and did a good job.

    All things considered, I think that Summerfield’s book was worth the money. It rarely leaves my desk and never sits on my bookshelf. That’s how useful it is to me.

    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. Good clear exposition of Qt as used with Python. Qt, a GUI toolkit, seems fairly easy to use (particularly with Python), but is quite large (as needed to provide various convenient features for a broad variety of GUI widgets): hence it’s good that this book goes through the numerous features clearly and in detail.

    As a bonus, the author assumes no prior knowledge of Python, and spends the first hundred pages on a swift Python tutorial. Of course one can’t learn all of Python in a hundred pages, but the author covers the features needed to follow the rest of this book. Moreover, I think it’s actually a good introduction to Python, which you will appreciate if either (a) you’ve used Python but are rusty and need some quick reminders, or (b) you’ve never used Python (but know another object-oriented language), in which case this should get you nicely started on Python.

    Also I should mention that, when I had problems getting Qt and PyQt to install, the author wrote back instantly with useful information. Oh, yeah, I should warn you that, if you’re installing on Mac, do not use Python 2.6 or later; PyQt currently has trouble with it. The combination I finally got to work was: Python 2.5.4; Qt 4.4.3; SIP 4.7.9; PyQt 4.4.4. (Of course this information will change over time. Refer to the author’s website for updates.)
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. This book is perfect for someone new to the world of GUI programming. It provides a detailed walk-through of generating a useful and robust user interface. Providing a firm foundation in python and OOP and then adding both knowledge of Qt and a best practices approach to GUI programming.

    If you aren’t new to programming and GUI creation than this book is still a very useful source of information if a bit hard to get through. The feature this book lacks which many love in O’Reilly books is a component by component breakdown of features with good examples. This is not really a flaw as this book is a ground up approach, however if you are looking for something akin to PyQT In a Nutshell you won’t find it here. That being said, it is the best book on PyQt4 out there, and even if there were many other PyQt4 book to choose from this is still an excellent learning tool.

    In short this is an excellent book for people new to Python and Qt, especially those without GUI experience. Those with more experience may be bothered by the lack of a more modularized approach to learning PyQt4 as this book follows a more chronological approach of the design process. It’s not quick and dirty, but it is robust and well written.
    Rating: 4 / 5

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