I'm on a bit of a break and generally enjoying a holiday from programming, but I am spending a couple of hours here and there learning some Python. I think learning a new programming language is a good way to improve my general development skills and knowledge. As I'm just learning and not under pressure to actually build something its quite a lot of fun.

I decided to learn either Python or Ruby. I understand both are fairly modern high level languages, both are considered fun languages to use by their advocates and both been implemented on top of the .NET dynamic runtime.

I would like to try Ruby on Rails but I felt while I was on break from programming, learning a new language and a new web framework was a bit much. I decided on Python, mostly because I like the name, but also as I understand Python has found use in all sorts of environments and for all sorts of purposes including scientific computation, robotics, game development, and business and web applications.

I found Dive into Python to be awesome book for Java, C# and C++ developers wanting to learn the Python language. And its free online for browsing and downloading! I think it is very succinct in only explaining what you need to know about the language, which makes it very readable.

I was pretty excited about getting into IronPython after watching these two videos from TechEd 2007 in Orlando. There is lots of interesting information about IronPython and the Dynamic Language Runtime but there are also some really cool demos.

From the interactive console, Merlin (who apparently lives in all recent versions of windows as a COM control) is summoned and instructed to do all sorts of stuff, a Windows Form is created and run and then controls and events are added while its running! There are also demos of Iron Python with Visual Studio, ASP.NET and Silverlight. They kind of sold me on IronPython for now.

IronPython 2 has recently been released on CodePlex and its a pretty straight forward download and install. Slightly surprisingly it only contains a command line compiler, an interactive console, some libraries and sample applications.

There is also a project called IronPython Studio which is a Visual Studios extension to add support for IronPython development and debugging. I'm going to start with just the base install and Notepad 2 because I know you can do some pretty cool with it and I'd like to see how it all works.

Although IronPython is apparently compliant with the Python language, the standard library, which is considered very powerful and extensive, is not completely implemented. This basically means most Python code that makes use of the standard library won't work in IronPython. Fortunately you can use most of the .NET framework from IronPython meaning there is a pretty rich framework available.

I hope it is possible to implement the entire standard library on top of the .NET framework, this would mean more Python code would work in IronPython and IronPython code that didn't directly call into the .NET framework would run on other platforms.

As I'm happy to use IronPython and the .NET framework there is a great resource called the IronPython Cookbook which has heaps of examples of common programming tasks in IronPython and information about using IronPython in different environments from the Microsoft Robotics kit to the XNA framework.

I was hoping to write about some examples in this post, but its become much longer than I expected and I might wrap it up with some links I have found useful or interesting along the way.

Introducing IronPython - A good article from DevX

Revolver Systems - An interesting spread sheet / IronPython mash-up.

IronPython and the Dynamic Language Runtime - An MSDN article by Bill Chiles

IronPython and ASP.Net: Two tastes that taste great together - A brief article from ZDNet

IronPython and WPF - Just one of many great article from DevHawk which I've since added to my RSS feed reader.

CLR Inside Out - IronPython - Another good MSDN by James Schementi

The Voidspace IronPython Pages - A collection of IronPython resources

IronPython in Action - A book I haven't read and probably won't buy, but may be of interest to others

Hope you've found this interesting, I'm having a lot of fun and looking forward to getting back to hacking some more IronPython.

Please feel free to add a comment or point out any incorrect information.