Python

Overview

When we plan to build a web app or automate a small task on the system or want to understand the colours used in the image, for every small or big thing we tend to reach out to Python. OK, I think you get the picture. Basically, when I need to code something and the language doesn’t matter, Python can be used.

What is Python?

Python is a general-purpose interpreted, interactive, object-oriented, and high-level programming language. It was created by Guido van Rossum during 1985- 1990. Like Perl, Python source code is also available under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

The Python programming language is named after a comedy group called Monty Python. Monty Python was active mainly in the 1970s.

This is used by thousands of people to do things from testing microchips at Intel, to powering Instagram, to building video games with the PyGame library. It’s small, very closely resembles the English language, and has hundreds of existing third-party libraries.

Reasons why Python is recommended

So what are the major reasons that gives a thought to choose Python and recommend it to as many people as possible?

Readability

Python very closely resembles the English language, using words like ‘not’ and ‘in’ to make it to where you can very often read a program, or script, aloud to someone else and not feel like you’re speaking some arcane language. This is also helped by Python’s very strict punctuation rules which means you don’t have curly braces ({ }) all over your code.

Also, Python has a set of rules, known as PEP 8, that tell every Python developer how to format their code. This means you always know where to put new lines and, more importantly, that pretty much every other Python script you pick up, whether it was written by a novice or a seasoned professional, will look very similar and be just as easy to read. The fact that my Python code, with five or so years of experience, looks very similar to the code that Guido van Rossum (the creator of Python) writes is such an ego boost.

Libraries

Python has been around for over 20 years, so a lot of code written in Python has built up over the decades and, being an open source programming language, a lot of this has been released for others to use. Almost all of it is collected on https://pypi.python.org, pronounced “pie-pee-eye” or, more commonly called “the CheeseShop”. You can install this software on your system to be used by your own projects. For example, if you want to use Python to build scripts with command line arguments, you’d install the “click” library and then import it into your scripts and use it. There are libraries for pretty much any use case you can come up with, from image manipulation, to scientific calculations, to server automation.

Community

Python has user groups everywhere, usually called PUGs, and does major conferences on every continent other than Antarctica. PyCon NA, the largest Python conference in North America, sells out its 2,500 tickets this year. And, reflecting Python’s commitment to diversity, it had over 30% women speakers. Being part of a such a positive community does a lot to keep you motivated.

Productive

It makes tough tasks simple. Almost any programming task is easier with Python than it is with other programming languages. Computer types call this RAD (for Rapid Application Development).

Scripting language

The programs are fed into Python’s interpreter, which runs them directly, so there’s no compiling (which is the case for some other languages). It is faster and easier to get feedback on your Python code (finding errors, for example). Python means you complete and execute (run) your programs faster and that makes programming fun!

Cross platform

Almost anyone can use it, no matter what computer operating system they have. You can run pretty much any Python program on Windows, Mac, and Linux personal computers and from large servers through to tiny computers like the Raspberry Pi. You can even run Python programs on Android and iOS tablets.

Uses dynamic typing for its variables

This may not mean much to you if you’ve never done programming before. Dynamically typed variables make programming easier because they let you just start using a variable, rather than first explaining to the computer what the variable is supposed to be.

Python gets lots of help from third-party modules

This means that a lot of other people (third parties) have written libraries. A library is a bunch of code for doing something specific. This makes your work easier because you don’t have to start from scratch every time you write a new program; sometimes you can use the libraries already written.

Python is free software

This means that the license terms for Python respect your freedom. You can download and run Python without paying any money, and any program that you write with it is yours to use and share any way you want. It also means that the Python source code (the human-readable form of what the computer runs) is available so, when you’re feeling brave enough, you can look at how the Python developers wrote their code. (It’s written in a different programming language, though, d’oh!)

WHO USES PYTHON?

Python is used just about everywhere. Just take a look at the following list (which is not exhaustive). The point is that Python will apply to whatever you’re interested in, no matter what it is.

  • In space: The International Space Station’s Robonaut 2 robot uses Python for its central command system. Python is planned for use in a European mission to Mars in 2020 to collect soil samples.
  • In particle physics laboratories: Python helps understand the data analysis from some atom smashing experiments at the CERN Large Hadron Collider.
  • In astronomy: The MeerKat Radio telescope array (the largest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere) uses Python for its control and monitoring systems.
  • In movie studios: Industrial Light and Magic (Star Wars geniuses) uses Python to automate its movie production processes. Side Effects Software’s computer-generated imagery program Houdini uses Python for its programming interface and to script the engine.
  • In games: Activision uses Python for building games, testing, and analyzing stuff. They even use Python to find people cheating by boosting each other.
  • In the music industry: Spotify music streaming service uses Python to send you music.
  • In the video industry: Netflix uses Python to make sure movies play (stream)without stopping. Python is used a lot for YouTube.
  • In Internet search: Google used Python all over in its early development phase.
  • In medicine: The Nodality company uses Python to handle information that they use to search for a cure to cancer.
  • In your OS (admin-ing your datas): Operating systems like Linux and Mac OSX use Python for some of their administrative functions.
  • In your doorbell: Rupa Dachere and Akkana Peck say that you can automate your home with Python, hooking up sensors to your house. With it you can, for example, open and close the curtains or automatically turn on lights when you come in the room.
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