Intro to Python at NICAR - A one hour session
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Intro to Python at NICAR

A one hour session

These are materials for getting started with Python. Learning things is hard. Please reach out before throwing in the towel.

What do to if you get stuck?

  • Google for the answer (DO THIS FIRST)
  • Ask a friend or user group

Read How to Ask Questions, before posting your questions online. It covers ways to help frame your questions so others can best help you.

Launching Your Python interpretor

On a PC

  • Search for "Python".
  • Select the top choice.

On a Mac

  • Launch Terminal
  • Type python

Your Python interpretor prompt, looks like this:


Your terminal prompt, looks like this:

  • PC - >
  • Mac/Linux - $

Basic Data Structures

Tables Are
string 'Joker'
integer 2
floats 2.0
variable animal_names
list ['Joker', 'Simon', 'Ellie', 'Lishka', 'Fido']
dictionary {'cats': 2, 'dogs': 5, 'horses': 1, 'snakes': 0}

Helpful tools

  • Type - What data type?
    • type('Joker')
    • type(5)
    • type(['Joker', 'Simon', 'Ellie', 'Lishka', 'Fido'])
  • Dir - What are some of things I can do with this thing?
    • dir('Joker')
    • dir(['Joker', 'Simon', 'Ellie', 'Lishka', 'Fido'])
  • Help - Tell me all about this thing
import csv

Installing libraries

Google and see what other people use or what makes sense to you - use that.

If you try to install the requests library:

pip install requests

If you get a permissions error, try...

sudo pip install requests

If you want to see all the libraries that are available, visit Pypi

Running scripts

From inside the csv folder:

  • python

From inside the excel folder:

  • python

Lastly, here is a great repo of web scrapers.

Try running this Boone County Arrest scrapers.