You want to be a programmer?

Fun fact: this post has been stuck in drafting since 24 August, 2013!

I am not sure if there is an uptick in the number of people saying this or I am just around more people, but I have been hearing this 6 word phrase (and its variations) a lot more than I used to:

How do I become a programmer?

Before I begin, I must define what a programmer is. In my book, a programmer is one who writes and creates desktop, mobile, or web applications using any recognized programming language, such as Python, JavaScript, C#, C++, etc.

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Python – What is the __future__ module?

I was asked an interesting Python question recently: what is the __future__ module?

If the __future__ (PEP that introduced __future__) module seems vaguely familiar to you, it is because I use it in most of my Python tutorial scripts and have briefly talked about __future__ in a few of my tutorials, but I have never really explained what it is.

You know how you must import sys in order to access the functions located in the sys module? The same goes for accessing the special items located in __future__. However, you cannot simply import the __future__ module like any other module. That is because __future__ backports standard functionality in future Python versions. Because making them standard at in a typical patch release may create breaking change (and breaking changes should never be made in a patch release), the Python developers instead a reference to the new feature in __future__ and waited to introduce the new standard behavior in a minor- or if it is a highly volatile change, major- release.

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Python – Comparing against multiple items

I see this scenario and solution more often than I probably should: you have a value that needs to be compared against multiple possible values, and if there is a match perform a certain action. Usually the solution to this common event is to create a series of if...elif...else conditions, one for each possible value, running the commands after each passing condition, and using the else clause as the non matching case. An example of such a condition would be like so:

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Blocks v1.0.0

Blocks has always been a landmark application for me. What began life known as “The Blocker” and a simple command window quickly transformed into my very first full-GUI application, and continued to be a landmark by performing syntax checks on the files it created, something I had not tried before. Blocks has also been the informational resource for the (still incomplete) Building With Blocks tutorial, which examines the file format in context of manually modding the Island Xtreme Stunts Trouble in Store mini game levels.

It has been over a year since the last release of Blocks, namely v0.9.1. Just like my other projects, Blocks was put on hold because of college work. Although I have had some time to work on JavaScript-based projects since then, for a while I have been longing to get back to some Python programming. In order to transition back, I decided to work on a smaller project, a category in which Blocks in a member. Today, I am proud to announce yet another milestone release of Blocks v1.0.0!

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Python – Normalize User Input

After remaining in drafting for over a year (initial draft was on 7 August, 2013), I have finished this new Python tutorial. There is a lot to be written about case normalization, both for the upsides and downsides, but it is generally agreed upon that user input should be normalized, or converted into such a form that any checks run on the input can be case-insensitive. This tutorial shows how you can do that and provides a through example of case normalization in action. No, just because I use the term “in action” does not mean it is your favorite or the newest theatrical action movie. 😛

Enjoy. 🙂


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Count the number of lines in a file – Python

This is a super simple tutorial. So simple, in fact, it is the shortest one I have ever written.

If you ever need to count the number of lines a file has in it and not even process the file, only count the lines, simply open the file and use a for loop to iterate over the number of lines and update an incrementer already in place. No need to even read the contents.

(View on GitHub Gist)

I told you this was a super simple and short tutorial. 🙂