Audiences for Python Documentation

At the IPC8 Documentation SIG session, it was pointed out that we haven't made explicit the audiences we're targetting with the documentation. As the variety of efforts related to the documentation expands, it is becoming increasingly clear that our understanding of the audience and requirements is not as precise as perhaps it should be. This document attempts to correct that.

Discussion of the contents of this document should take place on the Doc-SIG mailing list; feel free to join the discussion on the list.

No priorities are assigned to these audiences.

  • Script authors.

    These people are using Python embedded in an application, and are generally not interested in being programmers at all. Their use of Python is solely to tailor another application to better suit their needs, or to automate common tasks.

  • New programmers.

    This group has no programming experience in any programming language, and may not have used any shell or batch scripting languages (such as /bin/sh scripts or DOS/Windows .bat files). They are interested in learning programming as a specific skill.

  • Experienced programmers new to Python.

    Programmers in this group are at least moderately skilled with one or two third-generation programming languages. They may or may not be professional programmers, but programming is an important skill within their field of activity.

  • Experienced Python programmers.

    Programmers who have built large systems in Python, and typically have used a range of interoperability techniques with non-Python systems. These programmers are likely to have written extensions in C, C++, or Java, and are not afraid to look into the interpreter source code. These programmers have memorized the Python Language Reference.

Note that not all materials are specific to one or more of these groups. For instance, the Python Library Reference is fairly essential to all but the first group (script authors). Script authors may still need library reference material, but possibly for application-specific collections of modules.

Fred L. Drake, Jr. (
Reston, VA
30 January 2000