If you're just getting started with programming computers and other devices, you've probably been debating which programming language to learn first. There are numerous articles on the internet regarding which programming languages you should learn – which are best for what platform, which are easiest to learn, and which are most likely to help you find a high-paying job. You've probably heard of Python if you've been filtering through all those opinions. Your question is unlikely to have a single correct answer. Learning a programming language teaches you to think like a programmer. Every programming language has advantages and disadvantages. Python is a good language to attempt if you're searching for a language that can be used in a variety of applications or if you just want to dip your toe into the coding seas.
Python has a reputation for being simple to learn for beginning programmers. It can be used to create computer programs or web apps. Python, on the other hand, is not a popular choice for developing the next great mobile app. According to a 2019 study of Python users, the most popular usage were web development and data analysis. Only roughly 6% of respondents said they used it for game or app development. Python programming has many business applications, but it has also gained traction in academic circles, particularly among those working with big volumes of data. It is also beneficial to hobbyists.
Guido van Rossum created Python after working on a language called ABC at his previous workplace, the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the Netherlands' national mathematics and computer science research institute. While he like some features of ABC, he was disappointed by the difficulty in expanding the language. During his Christmas vacation in 1989, van Rossum decided to experiment with establishing his own language. In February 1991, he published the initial version of his brainchild to USENET, a little more than a year later. He'd also been reading scripts for episodes of the legendary British comedy act "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Python was chosen as a name because it was "short, distinctive, and little mysterious." Is it necessary to be a fan of the show in order to write Python? No, although it helps, according to the Python Software Foundation.
Despite the fact that he considers himself retired now, van Rossum is Python's "benevolent dictator for life," a position he has maintained since 1995. Indeed, a number of open-source developers — who have the final say on changes to their projects — have been accorded that designation by their development communities since then. According to the Open Source Initiative's official definition, Python is open source, which implies it is free to use and share. If you want, you can also get a copy of the source code.
Python is ranked first in the Popularity of Programming Index (PYPL) as of May 2020, which rates programming languages based on how frequently people look for tutorials on them. The site, which is intended to help new coders choose a programming language to begin with, changes frequently, but Python has increased the most in popularity between 2015 and 2020. Python appears friendlier to beginner programmers because of its simplicity, according to Thorstad. Many people have lauded Python code for being simple to read. Whereas other programming languages use semicolons to indicate the end of a command, Python utilizes a new line. Python employs indentation rather than curly brackets to surround functions in other languages.
What Is It Used For?
Python is a versatile programming language, and its developers frequently utilize it for both corporate and personal purposes. According to a 2018 study conducted by the nonprofit Python Software Foundation and JetBrains, a for-profit company that makes software development tools, people are using the language to create web applications, games and mobile applications, system administration, education, machine learning, and data analysis. Python is one of several object-oriented programming languages available. Objects are chunks of typed code that represent the state of a piece of data. Those objects can then be used by other code without having to rewrite it all. The object's information influences the code that calls it, making it a versatile programming tool.
Another advantage of Python is that applications built in the language run on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers. Python is not a compiled language; it is an interpreted language. That is, unlike applications written in languages such as C, COBOL, or Assembler, code produced in Python must be interpreted by the computer. Humans can write and read it more easily, but asking the computer to comprehend the code every time slows it down. Python's speed is frequently cited as a disadvantage. Thorstad, on the other hand, believes the language gets a terrible rap. "Python has a lot of libraries that are fast decreasing this gap," he says, pointing to open-source libraries like NumPy and TensorFlow, as well as compilers like Numba and Cython, all of which add capabilities to the programming language and improve its speed.
Although Python may be used for a wide range of applications in a variety of industries, it has grown in popularity among data scientists. Thorstad points out that the Python community is large and active. "There are a lot of really good and useful modules for conducting standard data-science tasks in Python," he explains. Among the tools created by the community are:
- Machine-learning tools
- Numerical libraries
- Statistical libraries
- Plotting libraries
Wes McKinney, the director of Ursa Labs and author of the Pandas framework, agrees with Thorstad in the second edition of his book "Python for Data Analysis" that community-created libraries and frameworks help Python compete with other data-science alternatives such as R, MATLAB, and others. "When combined with Python's overall capability for general-purpose software engineering," he continues, "it is a good option as a primary language for constructing data applications."
Every year, the global Python community hosts a number of conferences where programmers of various types and skill levels can gather for learning and networking. Among these is PyCon, which is held many times a year in various cities across the world. The Python Software Foundation keeps a calendar of events on their website. People interested in data science programming should consider Python a safe pick because it has a robust community that works together to help one another and produce tools that improve Python's capacity to manage massive volumes of data. Guido van Rossum's concept for an extensible programming language appears to function well — and then some.
How Do You Learn Python?
If what you've learned about Python has piqued your interest and you're ready to dive in and start programming, there are numerous tools available to assist you. "Doing is the greatest way to learn any programming language," Thorstad argues. "I would advise people to pick a project that they are enthusiastic about and start working on it." If you don't already have Python installed on your computer, you can get it for free from the Python website. Thorstad offers the free Anaconda distribution, which includes several popular programming libraries, or the graphical Spyder integrated development environment.
If you don't want to or are unable to install the program on your computer, Thorstad advises Google Colaboratory, a free service that allows you to write and run Python code in your web browser. Finally, the only program you really need to develop Python code is a text editor, and chances are you already have one installed on your computer. Python programming guides are likely to be available in your local library or bookstore. The language is taught at schools and universities. There are also paid online courses available, but learning does not have to be expensive. Of course, you should choose the programming language that best suits your project, but learning Python is a wonderful place to start if you're interested in easy-to-read code that can be used for a variety of personal and professional projects.