Book Review: Software Architecture with Python

Packt Publishing approached me about being a technical reviewer for the book, Software Architecture with Python by Anand Balachandran Pillai. It sounded pretty interesting so I ended up doing the review for Packt. They ended up releasing the book in April 2017.

Quick Review

  • Why I picked it up: Packt Publishing asked me to do a technical review of the book
  • Why I finished it: Frankly because this was a well written book covering a broad range of topics
  • Iā€™d give it to: Someone who is learning how to put together a large Python based project or application

Book Formats

You can get this as a physical soft cover, Kindle on Amazon or various other eBook formats via Packt Publishing’s website.

Book Contents

This book has 10 chapters and is 556 pages long.

Full Review

The focus of this book is to educate the reader on how they might design and architect a highly scalable, robust application in Python. The first chapter starts off by going over the author’s ideas on the “principles of software architecture” and what they are. This chapter has no code examples whatsoever. It is basically all theory and basically sets up what the rest of the book will be covering.

Chapter two is all about writing readable code that is easy to modify. It teaches some techniques for writing readable code and touches on recommendations regarding documentation, PEP8, refactoring, etc. It also teaches the fundamentals of writing modifiable code. Some of the techniques demonstrated in this chapter include abstracting common services, using inheritance, and late binding. It also discusses the topic of code smells.

Chapter three clocks in at almost 50 pages and is focused on making testable code. While you can’t really teach testing in just one chapter, it does talk about such things as unit testing, using nose2 and py.test, code coverage, mocking and doctests. There is also a section on test driven development.

In chapter four, we learn about getting good performance from our code. This chapter is about timing code, code profiling and high performance containers in Python. It covers quite a few modules / packages, such as cProfile, line profiler, memory profiler, objgraph and Pympler.

For chapter five, we dig into the topic of writing applications that can scale. This chapter has some good examples and talks about the differences between concurrency, parallelism, multithreading vs multiprocessing and Python’s new asyncio module. It also discusses the Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) and how it effects Python’s performance in certain situations. Finally the reader will learn about scaling for the web and using queues, such as Celery.

If you happen to be interested in security in Python, then chapter 6 is for you. It covers various types of security vulnerabilities in software in general and then talks about what the author sees as security problems in Python itself. It also discusses various coding strategies that help the developer write secure code.

Chapter seven delves in to the subject of design patterns and is over 70 pages long. You will learn about such things as the singleton, factory, prototype, adapter, facade, proxy, iterator, observer and state patterns. This chapter does a nice job of giving an overview of design patterns, but I think a book that focuses a chapter per design pattern would be really interesting and really help drive the point home.

Moving on, we get to chapter 8 which talks about “architectural patterns”. Here we learn about Model View Controller (MVC), which is pretty popular in the web programming sphere. We also learn a bit about event driven programming using twisted, eventlet, greenlet and Gevent. I usually think of a user interface using something like PyQt or wxPython when I think of event driven programming, but either way the concepts are the same. There is also a section on microservices in this chapter.

Chapter nine’s focus is on deploying your Python applications. Here you will learn about using pip, virtualenv, PyPI, and PyPA. You will also learn a little about Fabric and Ansible in this chapter.

The last chapter covers the techniques for debugging your applications. He starts with the basic print statement and moves on to using mocks and the logging module. He also talks about using pdb and similar tools such as iPdb and pdb++. The chapter is rounded out with sections on the trace module, the lptrace package and the strace package.

This book is a bit different from your usual Python book in that it’s not really focused on the beginner. Instead we have professional software developer with nearly two decades of experience outlining some of the techniques he has used in creating his own applications at big companies. While there are a few minor grammatical issues here and there, overall I found this to be a pretty interesting book. I’m not saying that because I was a technical reviewer of the book. I have panned some of the books I have been a technical reviewer for in the past. This one is actually quite good and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about real world software development. It’s also good for people who want to learn about concurrency or design patterns.

Software Architecture with Python

by Anand Balachandran Pillai

Amazon, Packt Publishing

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  • Hi Mike, I had this one already on my list but reading this review makes me prioritize it. Thanks

  • Thanks for the feedback!

  • Lol I was about to start but loaded Packt’s free ebook of the day (Modular Programming with Python) on my Kindle and saw you reviewed it too šŸ™‚

  • That’s a really good book. I hope you find it useful as well.