Thursday, December 04, 2008

Python Challenge

Of all the scripting languages out there, I would have to say that Python is my favorite. I don't use it a lot, but when I need to whip up some kind of task to do some heavy text processing, or pull email down from my gMail account, I know that python can do it.

Yesterday, Ars Technica had a nice article on learning python via online resources. I was already aware of most of the references mentioned in the article, but in the comments to the article I found a gem - The Python Challenge.

The best way I can explain the Python Challenge is that it is like an adventure game with problems that can be solved using a few lines of python code. You start with problem number one, and when you have completed the problem, it will lead you to the URL for problem #2. Of course, what makes the challenge so challenging is that the problems are not always clearly spelled out on the web page. At times you'll need to view the source code and decipher clues to even find what the problem is. And then, of course, you'll need to solve the programming problem.

Right now, I am stuck on #6. I solved the programming problem, and received the ending clue ("collect the comments"), but I am not sure what to do now. I'll let it simmer in the back of my head for a while before I resort to looking for hints.

As a side note, these problems can also be solved with perl and even bash scripts. After you have completed a problem, a solution wiki page for that problem becomes available so you can see how other people solved the problem, which is always interesting and helpful.