Writing programs (or programming) is a very creative and rewarding activity. You can write programs for many reasons, ranging from making your living to solving a difficult data analysis problem to having fun to helping someone else solve a problem. This book assumes that everyone needs to know how to program, and that once you know how to program you will figure out what you want to do with your newfound skills.
- While many of the examples in this book have focused on reading files and looking for data in those files, there are many different sources of information when one considers the Internet. In this chapter we will pretend to be a web browser and retrieve web pages using the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Then we will read through the web page data and parse it.
- As programs get to be millions of lines long, it becomes increasingly important to write code that is easy to understand. If you are working on a million line program, you can never keep the entire program in your mind at the same time. So we need ways to break the program into multiple smaller pieces so to solve a problem, fix a bug, or add a new feature we have less to look at.
- A database is a file that is organized for storing data. Most databases are organized like a dictionary in the sense that they map from keys to values. The biggest difference is that the database is on disk (or other permanent storage), so it persists after the program ends. Because a database is stored on permanent storage, it can store far more data than a dictionary, which is limited to the size of the memory in the computer.
- In this chapter, we start to work with Secondary Memory (or files). Secondary memory is not erased when the power is turned off. Or in the case of a USB flash drive, the data we write from our programs can be removed from the system and transported to another system.