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Most publications, from mysteries to scientific papers to computer books, claim that the work being published would not have been possible without the collaboration of many others, typically including local forensic scientists, colleagues, and children, respectively. This book makes this claim to an extreme degree. Most of the words, code, and ideas in this volume were contributed by people not listed on the front cover. The original recipe authors, readers who submitted comments to the web site, and the authors of the chapter introductions are the true authors of the book, and they deserve the credit.
The online cookbook was the product of Andy McKay's constant and diligent effort. Andy was ActiveState's key Zope developer during the online data-collection phase of this project, and one of the key developers behind ASPN (http://aspn.activestate.com), ActiveState's content site, which serves a wide variety of information for and by programmers of open source languages such as Python, Perl, PHP, Tcl, and XSLT. Andy McKay used to be a Perl developer, by the way. At about the same time that I started at ActiveState, the company decided to use Zope to build what would become ASPN. In the years that followed, Andy has become a Zope master and somewhat of a Python fanatic (without any advocacy from me!). Based on an original design by myself and Diane Mueller, also of ActiveState, Andy single-handedly implemented ASPN in record time, then proceeded to adjust it to ever-changing requirements for new features that we hadn't anticipated in the early design phase, staying cheerful and professional throughout. It's a pleasure to have him as the author of the introduction to the chapter on web recipes.
Paul Prescod, then also of ActiveState, was a kindred spirit throughout the project, helping with the online editorial process, suggesting changes, and encouraging readers of comp.lang.python to visit the web site and submit recipes. Paul also helped with some of his considerable XML knowledge when it came to figuring out how to take the data out of Zope and get it ready for the publication process.
The last activator I'd like to thank, for two different reasons, is Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of ActiveState. The first is that Dick agreed to let me work on the cookbook as part of my job. Had he not, I wouldn't have been able to participate in it. The second reason I'd like to thank Dick is for suggesting at the outset that a share of the book royalties go to the Python Software Foundation. This decision not only made it easier to enlist Python users into becoming contributors but will also hopefully result in at least some long-term revenue to an organization that I believe needs and deserves financial support. All Python users will benefit.
Translating the original recipes into the versions you will see here was a more complex process than any of us understood at the onset. First, the whole community of readers of the online cookbook reviewed and submitted comments on recipes, which in some cases helped turn rough recipes into useful and polished code samples. Even with those comments, however, a great deal of editing had to be done to turn the raw data into publishable material. While this was originally my assignment, my work schedule made that process painfully slow. Luckily, a secret weapon was waiting in the wings. My opinion of Alex Martelli had only gone up since the beginning of the project, as Alex's numerous submissions to the online cookbook were always among the most complete, thorough, and well-liked recipes. At that point, I felt as editor that I owed Alex dinner. So, naturally, when help was needed to edit the recipes into a book, I called upon Alex. Alex not only agreed to help, but did so heroically. He categorized, filtered, edited, and corrected all of the material, incorporating the substance of the comments from readers into coherent recipes and discussions, and he added a few recipes where they were needed for completeness. What is more, he did all of this cheerfully and enthusiastically. At this point, I feel I owe Alex breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week.
Finally, I'd like to thank the O'Reilly editors who have had a big hand in shaping the cookbook. Laura Lewin was the original editor, and she helped make sure that the project moved along, securing and coordinating the contributions of the introduction authors. Paula Ferguson then took the baton, provided a huge amount of precious feedback, and copyedited the final manuscript, ensuring that the prose was as readable as possible given the multiplicity of voices in the book. Laura's, and then Paula's, constant presence was essential to keeping me on the ball, even though I suspect it was sometimes like dentistry. As we come to the end of the project, I can't help but remember Laura's mentor, O'Reilly's Editor-in-Chief, Frank Willison. Frank died suddenly on a black day, July 30, 2001. He was the person who most wanted to see this book happen, for the simple reason that he believed the Python community deserved it. Frank was always willing to explore new ideas, and he was generous to a fault. The idea of a book with over a hundred authors would have terrified most editors. Frank saw it as a challenge and an experiment. I miss Frank.
I first met Python thanks to the gentle insistence of a former colleague, Alessandro Bottoni. He kept courteously repeating that I really should give Python a try, in spite of my claims that I already knew more programming languages than I knew what to do with. If I hadn't trusted his technical and aesthetic judgment enough to invest the needed time and energy on his suggestion, I most definitely wouldn't be writing and editing Python books today. Thanks for your well-placed stubbornness, Alessandro!
Of course, once I tasted Python, I was irretrievably hooked梞y lifelong taste for high-level ("scripting") languages at last congealed into one superb synthesis. Here, at long last, was a language with the syntactic ease of Rexx (and then some), the semantic simplicity of Tcl (and then some), and the awesome power of Perl (and then some). How could I resist? Still, I do owe a debt to Mike Cowlishaw (inventor of Rexx), who I had the pleasure of having as a colleague when I worked for IBM, for first getting me hooked on scripting. I must also thank John Ousterhout and Larry Wall, the inventors of Tcl and Perl, respectively, for later reinforcing my addiction through their brainchildren.
Greg Wilson first introduced me to O'Reilly, so he must get his share of thanks, too梐nd I'm overjoyed at having him as one of the introduction authors. I am also grateful to David Ascher and Laura Lewin, for signing me up as co-editor of this book (which of course delayed Python in a Nutshell, which I'm also writing梔ouble thanks to Laura for agreeing to let the nutshell's schedule slip!). Finally, Paula Ferguson's copious and excellent feedback steered the final stages of editing in a superb way梞ore thanks!
And so, thanks to the good offices of all these people, I was at last faced with the task of editing this book, to O'Reilly levels of quality, and fast. Could I do it? Not without an impressive array of technology. I don't know the names of all the people I should thank for the Internet, ADSL, the Google search engine, and the Opera browser, which, together, let me look things up so easily梠r for many of the other hardware and software technologies cooperating to amplify my productivity. But, I do know I couldn't have made it without Theo de Raadt's OpenBSD operating system, Bram Moolenar's VIM editor, and, of course, Guido van Rossum's Python language . . . so, I'll single out Theo, Bram, and Guido for special thanks!
But equally, I couldn't have made it without the patience and support of all my friends and family, who for so long saw me only rarely, and then with bleary eyes, muttering about recipes and cookbooks. Special thanks and love for this to my girlfriend Marina, my children Lucio and Flavia, and my sister Elisabetta. But my father Lanfranco deserves a super-special mention, because, in addition to all this, he was also always around to brew excellent espresso, indispensable for keeping me awake and alert. Besides, how else did I learn to work hard and relentlessly, never sparing either energy or effort, except from his lifelong example? So, thanks, Dad!
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