Practical Business Python

Taking care of business, one python script at a time

Newsletter # 8 - Everyone needs a sidetable when working with pandas

Sent on Mon 20 July 2020

Welcome to all the new subscribers! I hope you find this useful.

In this newsletter I highlight some of my latest updates on using python on Windows and discuss my new pandas library called sidetable.

Around the site

  • WSL and Python Development - I have been setting up a new Windows machine and have really enjoyed using Windows Subsystem for Linux. This article describes how to get it setup on your system and configure it for python use. If you are using Windows and have any interest in working with Linux, this should be helpful.
  • Exploring an Alternative to Jupyter Notebooks - Continuing the theme of working on Windows, I discuss using a somewhat new feature in VS Code (which works in Linux as well) to blend the best aspects of Jupyter notebooks and plain text file editing.
  • Introducing sidetable - Sidetable is a new package I released that builds simple summary tables of your pandas DataFrames. I have made a couple of updates since the initial release based on user feedback. I had fun developing it and have started to use it frequently in my day to day analysis. I hope you find it useful too.

Other useful news


  • Pycon 2020 has obviously come and gone. But if you have not looked recently, there are a lot of really good videos posted on the site.
  • David Beazley has open sourced his training content. This training includes about 130 coding exercises.
  • Andreas Mueller (a scikit core developer and O’Reilly author) has open sourced his Applied Machine Learning course materials from Columbia University.
  • MIT has released material for a course called The Missing Semester of Your CS Education. It’s about shell activities and not python but it covers many useful concepts for those getting started.


  • I enjoy writing about visualizations and am trying to constantly improve my process. Here’s a really useful series of articles about color blindness. As someone with color blindness, I frequently find myself struggling to read charts that others have made. I hope people take these recommendation and incorporate in their own visualizations.
  • Another visualization topic you might not think about is choosing fonts. I learned a lot from this article.

Data Analysis

  • This new stats package called pingouin looks interesting. Its goal is to be a easier and more approachable for new python users.
  • Jupyter notebooks can handle other languages besides python. Here’s a kernel for SQLite that looks like an interesting approach.

Final Words

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