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I would concentrate on the online help as a start
since it is updated as changes occur
I have enjoyed using the Geoprocessing Commands Quick Reference Guide to help me overcome the complexity (and richness) of ArcGIS 9.3 in the past.
Is their a similar Reference Guide available to help the novice ArcGIS modeller to select relevent python modules/tools/functions/classes?
Its not exactly like the tool reference guide, but have a look at pydoc in Python. You can open that from Python with these 2 lines.
import pydoc pydoc.gui()
From the small pydoc dialog, click open browser, and click on arcpy (package). The first page will give you a list of arcpy functions, and you can navigate with a click to other modules (like the mapping module) with an additional click.
Nice!...never used it, but it is better than
>>> import arcpy
That looks great. Thankyou David.
Or just click Module Docs from the Start Menu... to get at the same functionality, and yes visually not as good as the OMD, but in content, 1000x better than the OMD:)