So, you want to learn programming. Welcome to one of the great adventures of the twenty-first century. Programming requires little in the way of specialized equipment; the software tools can all be downloaded for free off the Internet, and it can be practiced in the safety and comfort of your own home, without having to ask anyone’s permission.
This will ease you in gently by introducing you to the software you will need to create your programs: a command-line interface, which allows you to use Python in interactive mode, and a text editor for writing scripts—nothing more complicated than that.
I will also show you where to go to find help and documentation, so you can decode the sometimes-impenetrable jargon that seems to surround this, the geekiest of all technical disciplines.
To begin with, you will need to make sure that you have a decently recent version of Python installed on your machine or follow the steps later in this chapter to install it (see “Choosing the Right Python Version” for a definition of decently recent).
This chapter explains how to make sure that you have everything set up correctly and that you have suitable references at hand before you start your journey.