Don't Just Stand There, Get Programming! with Ana Bell


August 20th, 2018

35 mins 7 secs

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About this Episode


Writing a book is hard work, especially when you are trying to teach such a broad concept as programming. In this episode Ana Bell discusses her recent work in writing Get Programming: Learn To Code With Python, including her views on how to separate the principles from the implementation, making the book evergreen in its appeal, and how her experience as a lecturer at MIT has helped her maintain the perspectives of beginners. She also shares her views on the values of learning about programming, even when you have no intention of doing it as a career and ways to take the next steps if that is your goal.


  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
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  • As you know, Python has become one of the most popular programming languages in the world, due to the size, scope, and friendliness of the language and community. But, it can be tough learning it when you’re just starting out. Luckily, there’s an easy way to get involved. Written by MIT lecturer Ana Bell and published by Manning Publications, Get Programming: Learn to code with Python is the perfect way to get started working with Python. Ana’s experience as a teacher of Python really shines through, as you get hands-on with the language without being drowned in confusing jargon or theory. Filled with practical examples and step-by-step lessons to take on, Get Programming is perfect for people who just want to get stuck in with Python. Get your copy of the book with a special 40% discount for Podcast.__init__ listeners at using code: Bell40!
  • Visit the site to subscribe to the show, sign up for the newsletter, and read the show notes. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions I would love to hear them. You can reach me on Twitter at @Podcast__init__ or email
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  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Ana Bell about her book, Get Programming: Learn to code with Python, and her approach to teaching how to code


  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by describing your motivation for writing a book about learning to program?
    • Who is the target audience for this book?
    • What level of competence do you want the reader to have when they have completed it?

  • What were the most challenging aspects of writing a book for beginning programmers?

    • What did you do to recapture the “beginner mind” while writing?

  • There are a large variety of books on learning to program and at least as many approaches. Can you describe the techniques that you use in your book to help readers grasp the concepts that you cover?

  • One of the problems of writing a book about technology is that there is no stationary target to aim for due to the constant advancement of the industry. How do you reconcile that reality with the need for a book to remain relevant for an extended period of time?

    • How do you decide what to include and what to leave out when writing about learning how to program?

  • What advice do you have for people who have read your book and want to continue on to a career in development?

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The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA