Chapter 12. Network Scripting

“Tune In, Log On, and Drop Out”

Over the 15 years since this book was first published, the Internet has virtually exploded onto the mainstream stage. It has rapidly grown from a simple communication device used primarily by academics and researchers into a medium that is now nearly as pervasive as the television and telephone. Social observers have likened the Internet’s cultural impact to that of the printing press, and technical observers have suggested that all new software development of interest occurs only on the Internet. Naturally, time will be the final arbiter for such claims, but there is little doubt that the Internet is a major force in society and one of the main application contexts for modern software systems.

The Internet also happens to be one of the primary application domains for the Python programming language. In the decade and a half since the first edition of this book was written, the Internet’s growth has strongly influenced Python’s tool set and roles. Given Python and a computer with a socket-based Internet connection today, we can write Python scripts to read and send email around the world, fetch web pages from remote sites, transfer files by FTP, program interactive websites, parse HTML and XML files, and much more, simply by using the Internet modules that ship with Python as standard tools.

In fact, companies all over the world do: Google, YouTube, Walt Disney, Hewlett-Packard, JPL, and many others rely on Python’s standard ...

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