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B.2 Windows-Specific Information

The Windows platform (Windows 95, 98, and NT) is one of the most active areas of growth for Python, both in terms of the number of users and in the number of extensions being built. While the standard distribution from www.python.org works just fine on Windows, there are a set of Windows-specific extensions that are available as part of the win32all package, from Mark Hammond. The win32all package is available at http://www.python.org/windows/win32all/ and includes several powerful programs and extensions.

The most visible is the Pythonwin program, which is an integrated development environment for Python, providing an interactive interpreter interface (with keyboard shortcuts, font coloring, etc.), an editor, and an object browser (see Figure B.1). Pythonwin is, in fact, using several large packages that allow Python to drive a great deal of the libraries available as part of Windows, such as the Microsoft Foundation Classes, the ODBC database interface, NT-specific services such as logging, performance monitoring, memory-mapped files, pipes, timers, and, most importantly, all of COM, Microsoft's Common Object Model. This means that, as we mentioned in Chapter 10, most modern software written for Windows should be scriptable from Python if it supports any scripting at all. In general, almost anything you can do in heavily marketed scripting languages such as Visual Basic, you can do in Python with COM support. Python can also be used as an ActiveX scripting host in such programs as Internet Explorer.

Figure B.1. The Pythonwin program in action
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