This week, I finished editing another book for Packt Publishing. The book’s name is Python Graphics Cookbook by Mike Ohlson de Fine (I think). You may wonder why I don’t know if de Fine is the author. Well, Packt thinks that its Technical Editors shouldn’t know that information. In fact, Packt is so cagey (and stupid) that they’ll give us forms to fill out asking us for the ISBN of the book we’re reviewing, but refuse to give us the ISBN.

Let it be known that Technical Reviewers for Packt Publishing are paid absolutely nothing. The only remuneration we get is a copy of the book we review, plus another book of our choice and our name/bio appears in the book we reviewed. That’s it. If Packt approaches you, let this be a warning to you.

Now, it’s not all bad. You get to read a book before almost everyone else AND you even get to help shape the book! That’s really cool! However, if you don’t read quickly, then this job is not for you. You usually only get 3 or 4 days to review a chapter. But enough of my whining, let’s get on with the Preview!

Sadly, the first four chapters I received of this book were in bad shape. All four chapters were 3rd or 4th drafts and yet, they were still chock full of errors. The problems ranged from simple stuff like misspellings (does Open Office’s spell-check really suck this much?), poor grammar and lousy sentence construction to code that wouldn’t run due to obvious syntax errors or just incomplete code. There were also lots of copied and pasted mistakes (usually in the code). I could go on for quite a while, but I feel for the author so I won’t.

Anyway, the author did get better after that. The chapters weren’t great, but the overall error average went down slightly. The main problem (I think) is that English isn’t the author’s first language and it makes the text just seem stilted. There are eleven chapters total.

The book covers the following topics:

  • How to draw shapes with Tkinter
  • Text with Tkinter
  • Simple animation with Tkinter
  • Work with pictures using the Python Imaging Library
  • Combining Raster and Vector Pictures (also with Tkinter)
  • Python I/O and mouse events
  • Inkscape and Tkinter
  • General GUI construction with Tkinter

I found some of the subject matter quite interesting, such as the animation and the trigonometry behind it. Having an Inkscape tutorial in the book was a little weird, but also interesting. The author definitely knows his stuff and really shines with some of his picture examples and the later animation examples. I truly hope that the normal Packt editing team can help him polish up the book for release. The general GUI stuff at the end of the book felt out of place in a graphics cookbook though…

Alas, we technical editors only get to see one version of the chapter, so we never see what the author does (if anything) to fix the issues we find until the book is published. I hope they have some kind of technical editor that goes over each chapter after a new draft is finished.

While I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the last one I did for Packt, it wasn’t all bad. I learned some new tricks and have some cool ideas for the PIL information I found here and in another book. My primary warning now is that you owe it to yourself to preview this book before you buy it. I don’t know when this book will be released, but I will try to re-read it when I get my copy so I can tell you how much better or worse it is.

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