Journalism to Django, Part Two: Required Reading

Posted Sunday, February 7, 2010 at 12:34 a.m. by Chris Amico in Projects about Django, journalism, programming and Python

So, you've gotten the hang of HTML and CSS. You can install Wordpress in five minutes, and you're comfortable mucking with templates. Or you get databases and it's time to get them on a web. Or you read my last post and feel ready for the next step.

Starting Points

At this point, take a look at the Django Book.

You can learn Django and Python at the same time (I did, as have others). But it is worth getting the hang of Python a bit first. Take some time and go through Think Python. It's pretty complete, but starts at a very basic level (it's actually a high school AP Comp Sci text book). If you're not new to code, Dive Into Python might be more your speed.

Django's documentation is amazing, easily the best of any tool I use. Run through the tutorial and have a look at some of the big topics.

The other book I'll recommend is James Bennett's Practical Django Projects. Get that once you've got some momentum. It starts at a basic level but moves pretty quickly and assumes you'll keep up.

Better Know a Blogger

Speaking of Bennett, read his blog. Hunt through his archives for anything tagged Django. They're a wealth of information on a range of topics and techniques.

(One caveat here: Those archives go back to Django's early days, so in some cases, the current way of doing things may be quite different. That's OK. The concepts hold, and it might force you to read the documentation. At least, that's my experience.)

For designers, you'll want to read up on Django's template system. The best introduction I know comes from Jeff Croft in two posts: Django Templates: An Introduction and The Power of Inheritance.

From there, a few finer points:

Back to the Source

Finally, get in the habit of reading source code. Dissect what's out there. Figure out how things work. Take advantage of the fact that Python is readable and loves namespaces.

Hang out on Github and Bitbucket a while and you'll start to see what's possible.

What else? Leave other required readings in the comments.


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