What is Python

Python was released in 1991, and since then has become a very popular programming language, being used throughout the world. It’s used to create websites and software of all types, and being a general purpose language it can be used for a huge variety of tasks. Its creator Guido van Rossum was a Monty Python fan, this causing him to choose the name ‘Python’ as he thought it was both short and nicely ‘mysterious’, or at least that is the story.

It also has the benefit of being relatively easy to learn, its ‘beginner friendliness’ boosting its use greatly over recent years.  Back in 2022, it was rated by Software developers as the fourth most popular programming language, those responding to the survey saying that they used it for almost half of the projects they worked on.

What is Python used for

Python is used for developing websites and software, plus task automation, data analysis, and data visualization. But as it is relatively easy to learn, it is also used by non-programmers like accountants and scientists. They use it for a range tasks, such as organising their finances.

The list of other things that Python is used for include:-

  • Data analysis and machine learning
  • Web development
  • Automation or scripting
  • Software testing and prototyping

Many people use Python to build different data visualizations, such as graphs in line and bar formats, pie charts, histograms, and 3D plots. This is made all the easier as it comes with a set of libraries which enable coders to build programs for data analysis and machine learning purposes faster and more efficiently than other languages.

And when it comes to websites it is used in the back end, sending data from the server and databases, as well as providing URL routing and security. Python also provides a framework for web development, these including Django and Flask.

Why use Python

Python is a great choice as it can be used on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Linux, Pi and Raspberry. It also benefits from having a simple syntax, this being similar to English, something that allows it to be to learned that bit faster.

Also, as it runs on an interpreter system, any code can be executed as soon as it is completed, this making an excellent tool when it comes to producing prototypes.

Three reasons to learn Python:-

One. Using this versatile program you can automate tasks, allowing you to work with huge datasets, painlessly scrape data from websites and even boost the power of your work in Excel. Basically, by using Python you can save yourself a lot of time.

Two. Leverage your knowledge and increase your output at work. Once you understand how to programme you will be able to get your work done up to ten times quicker than before. In essence, it allows you to collect data and translate these numbers in a manner that allows them to be used in real-world situations.

Three. This is the one that appeals to many, in that once you have gained the skill to programme in Python, that you will be able to get a better job and advance your career.

How long does it take to learn Python

This very much depends on your starting point, as if you have carried out some programming work before it can make a lot of difference. In general terms, learning the basics of Python can take as little as a few weeks, however becoming proficient in advanced Python could take up to a year.

One question that is often asked is ‘Do you need to be good at maths if you want to learn Python?’

The answer is no, recent studies showing that being excellent at maths is no real help when it comes to understanding and learning Python. Instead, it seems that being good at a foreign language could stand you in better stead.

What version of Python should I learn?

As Python 2 is no longer supported it is best to learn Python 3, this being especially important as any security vulnerabilities are no longer being dealt with in Python 2.

What is the best way to learn Python.

There is no doubt that the best way to learn Python is to attend an instructor led course. This is especially the case if you are the type of person that thrives in a classroom setting. Such courses provide a structured learning environment with the added advantage of immediate feedback on your coursework.  One company that provides excellent Python training is Framework Training (see https://www.frameworktraining.co.uk/courses/coding/programming-training-courses/python-training-course/ for details), one of their many accolades being that they were chosen by CERN to provide the necessary training to their staff.

Other methods like online self paced courses, live online courses and bootcamps are available, it all depends on the learning method that suits you the best.

Sarah Evans