Just about every programming language has an ardent fanbase, and Python is no different. Long an extremely popular “generalist” language, Python has been establishing new fans in ultra-specialist segments such as data science and machine learning. No wonder it regularly ranks so highly on various “most popular language” lists, including the TIOBE Index, RedMonk, and Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Survey.
If you’re new to programming and wondering whether to prioritize the time to learn Python, here’s a brief run-through of what developers and other technologists love about the language, along with some advice about adopting it.
It’s Easy to Learn
“Python is the perfect first programming language for beginners,” Sebastian Lutter, CTO at Pixolution, told Dice. “It provides a clear and readable syntax that makes it easy to learn the fundamentals of programming and allows you to focus on creating solutions for your problems quickly.”
Michal Kowalkowski, CEO of NoSpoilers.ai, agreed: “Python is easy to learn, even for complete programming beginners. The syntax is simple, and you can master it in a couple of days. Beginners might feel scared when moving from Python to low-level languages like C++, whereas other programmers who start learning Python immediately see its simplicity.”
For beginners, picking up any new programming language can be intimidating at first. But like any popular language, Python has a lot of documentation to help you on your way. For example, Python.org offers a handy beginner’s guide to programming and Python. If you’re a visual learner, Microsoft has a video series, “Python for Beginners,” with dozens of lessons (most under five minutes in length; none longer than 13 minutes). Once you’ve mastered some of the basics, a variety of tutorials and books (some of which will cost a monthly fee) can help you adopt the language in the context of data analytics and other fields.
Dave Wade-Stein, senior instructor at DevelopIntelligence, added: “Python is pithy. One does not have to write a lot of code to get things done. And as a result, programmers can be more productive in Python compared to languages that require a lot of boilerplate code to perform common tasks. In addition, in the DevOps world, where Python is immensely popular, engineers can automate tasks with fewer lines of code, allowing them to focus on further reducing technical debt.”
For developers and engineers who are trying to quickly cycle up new projects, that can make Python a good choice of language. It’s also important to pay attention to its speed vis-à-vis other languages, such as Java; here’s a helpful breakdown for you.
There’s a Massive Community and Tons of Add-ons
Kowalkowski also points to Python’s large developer community, which helps the language thrive: “It’s a popular language with sources on any question you might have. This makes learning simple and enables users to quickly feel like they can do anything with the right kind of help.”
As with any language, a robust community is essential for everything from the development of new features to bug-squishing. “There are tons of third-party libraries [in Python] for any use case you can think of,” Lutter said. “You can solve nearby every problem in Python, and you will find a lot of useful libraries from others working on similar problems that will help you to write easily readable and clean code.”
Wade-Stein points to Python’s quarter-million packages on pypi.org as a big reason why the language is so incredibly popular: “It’s safe to say packages, which in effect expand Python from its original raison d’être of text processing and manipulation (it was certainly a Perl competitor when it first appeared in 1991) into a full-fledged data science powerhouse, are really the drivers for Python’s current popularity.”
Python is Growing
Sachin Gupta, CEO and co-founder of HackerEarth, points to his company’s 2020 developer survey, which noted that 55 percent of students know Python.
“Python is versatile and constantly reinvents itself,” he noted, adding that the language allows “developers to keep up with trends without having to relearn everything from scratch. Python's easy integrations with C, C++, and Java as well as its constant updates, keep developers plugged in and up-to-date.”
Modus co-founder and Managing Partner Jay Garcia points to Stack Overflow’s 2020 developer survey, which reached a similar conclusion as HackerEarth. “According to Stack Overflow's 2020 annual developer survey, Python is 3rd among most loved, and 1st wanted programming languages,” Garcia said. “This all nets out to a swath of free and paid resources to train your team and a robust market of skilled engineers to hire if you need to scale your team.”
Python Gets You Hired
Garcia makes a great point about Python being a hirable skill, and others agree it can help land you jobs. Kowalkowski points out that the incredibly hot data-science market leans heavily into the language: “Data scientists often turn to Python for data-related actions due to the sheer number of useful libraries and open-source content. Artificial intelligence is a hot topic, and, under the hood, it relies on data science.”
Python instructor Tom Taulli emphasized Python’s relevance to machine learning and A.I. “When it comes to A.I., the language of choice is Python,” he said. “It allows for easy scripting for data science projects, and there is the handling of massive amounts of data. Python also has an extensive ecosystem of add-ons, such as for TensorFlow, PyTorch and Keras.”
Finally, Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO at GetVoIP, noted: “Big tech companies such as Google, Uber, and Netflix use the language. As a Python developer, it makes it easier to find a job because big tech companies are always looking to add to their pool of skilled developers.” That means smaller companies adopt the language, as well, creating lots of opportunities to not only build new products, but also maintain and improve legacy code.