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Is Python a Good Language to Learn?

Will Hillier

You may have heard that Python is the fastest-growing programming language. You’ve probably also heard that it’s heavily in-demand. Perhaps you’re even considering learning it. But before you do, it’s natural to want to know: is Python really a language worth learning? Or is it all just hype?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the evidence behind Python’s popularity. We’ll then look at some of the reasons why it’s a good language to learn, to help you decide if it’s the right skill for you. To make things easier, we’ve broken this down into the following sections:

  1. Why is Python so in-demand?
  2. Why should I learn Python?
  3. Five reasons to start learning Python right now
  4. Summary

Without further ado, let’s go!

1. Why is Python so in-demand?

There’s no doubt about it: Python is booming. This isn’t just hearsay. In the 2019 Stack Overflow developer survey (which had over 90,000 respondents) Python topped the rankings for most sought after language, for the third year running. 42% of respondents also said that Python was their preferred programming language, overtaking Java. While it is still fourth behind JavaScript, HTML/CSS and SQL, this is a consistent trend.In 2018, Python overtook C#, and in 2017 it did the same for PHP.

Meanwhile, the TIOBE index—a renowned industry measure of the popularity of programming languages—charts a similar rise. According to TIOBE, Python rose from fourth to third most popular language in 2019, overtaking C++. Analysts believe it will soon overtake Java and C to become the most popular programming language in the world. Evidence suggests that Python is here to stay. But why?

Python is very straightforward to use

Python’s syntax (the set of rules that govern its structure) is wonderfully intuitive. Because it is easy to code and read, this makes it especially popular with new data analysts and developers alike (also reflected in the Stack Overflow survey). In addition, Python is easy to debug, making it ideal for inexperienced developers.

Python has an excellent standard library

Python’s standard library includes tonnes of commonly-used functionality. Databases, graphic user interfaces, common mathematical equations (such as logarithms, square roots, and trigonometric functions), and more. Rather than coding from scratch, this means that developers can save time and effort using pre-existing code. Bonus!

Python is open-source and community-driven

Python’s code is open-source (free to distribute and adapt). As a result, there are now thousands of freely-available third-party libraries available. This has had a positive feedback effect, too. More functionality means more users. More users mean stronger online communities, which further boosts Python’s popularity. It is only growing!

Python is platform-independent

One of Python’s most useful features is that it is compatible with many operating systems. This includes Windows, Linux, macOS, and FreeBSD. It’s also compatible with other architectures (you can find a full list here). The ability to run on different systems with minimal changes to its code makes Python extremely versatile. For instance, it is often used to ‘glue together’ other pieces of software (another key reason for its burgeoning popularity).

2. Why should I learn Python?

We’ve established that Python is in demand, and we’ve covered some of the reasons why. But is Python the right language for you? As in any situation, the answer is: “it depends”. However, as a general-purpose language, Python has a number of compelling applications in the field of data analytics and beyond. You can learn more about how data analysts use Python in this post. In this section, however, we’ll focus on some other reasons why adding Python to your skillset might be a good idea.

Python is a good gateway language for beginners

Python’s easy syntax (i.e. its readability) doesn’t only make it easy to learn; it also makes Python an excellent ‘gateway’ language. As a highly abstract language, it is very intuitive for new learners as it allows you to focus less on the code and more on the programming concepts themselves. These skills are transferable if you ever decide to dip a toe into more complex programming languages.

Python is also good for experienced developers

For experienced developers, Python might not seem worth learning, especially if you’re accustomed to the speed and precision of lower-level languages. That said, even if your role requires complex or memory-intensive tasks (such as intensive CPU functions) you may still need Python to port code from other applications. Back- and front-end developers, working with languages like Java or JavaScript, often use Python—web frameworks likeDjango andFlask make it easy to link back-end services to front-end web apps.

Python is good for productivity

Like other general-purpose programming languages, Python is object-oriented. This means it easily allows you to create applications using pre-existing objects (types of data structure).You can read in-depth about object-oriented programming here, but for the sake of this post, what’s important to understand is that Python is versatile and fast to use. This makes it excellent for quick prototyping and improved productivity.

Its drawbacks outweigh its benefits

We’ve waxed lyrical about Python’s benefits. Time to ‘fess up—Python isn’t perfect for everything! For instance, it’s not really suited to memory-heavy tasks, such as running native computer hardware. And because it is dynamically typed (meaning its type-checking takes place at execution, rather than being precompiled) it also often requires more debugging. On measure, though, while Python may be slower for some jobs, its coding speed generally outweighs the drawbacks of its execution speed (which are minimal). To illustrate this,check out this command written in Java, versus the same code in Python. Which one looks quicker to write? You guessed it—Python!

3. Five reasons to start learning Python right now

We’ve shown that Python is a) in-demand, and b) worth learning. But you’re busy… Python can wait, right? Don’t be so sure. Here are five compelling reasons to make hay while the sun shines, and start learning Python right away.

1. Python is huge in data analytics, machine learning, and AI—and it is only growing

 Python’s use in data analytics, machine learning, and AI is expanding by the day. These disciplines are growing at an exponential rate, and an increasing number of data analysts use Python. While its popularity is a good thing, it does mean the competition is getting stiffer. Lay the foundations now, and you’ll keep pace with future change.

2. Learning Python will improve your job prospects

Global organizations like Spotify, Netflix, and Google all use Python. When Google was just starting out, their software engineers even declared that they would use “Python when we can, C++ when we must.” With Python so ubiquitous, proficiency using it is no longer a nice-to-have for many companies. It is fast becoming a staple.

3. It is easy to download, install and learn

Python comes pre-installed on many operating systems. And what better way to decide if it’s the right language for you than by playing around with it? If it’s not pre-installed (or you have an old version) the latest release is a click away. And as it’s so simple, you can get straight into the concepts, rather than fretting about how to make your code run.

4. Python’s libraries make it easy to become an expert

Python has one of the most mature package libraries of any programming language. There are thousands of libraries on the Python Package Index. These ready-to-go modules are designed to solve problems from working with databases to automating machine learning, and more. Get the basics down and you can quickly dial up your expertise in almost any field of your choosing.

5. Python skills are highly transferable

We’ve touched on Python’s benefits for data analytics and machine learning. However, its applications don’t stop there. Python can be used for anything from basic computer science, to building websites, running scripts, creating computer games, and all sorts of general-purpose coding. Basically, you can apply it in almost any industry, and for any task that doesn’t require huge amounts of speed or memory. Beyond that—the world is your oyster!

4. Summary

You’re now armed with everything you need to decide if Python is a good language to learn:

  • Python is highly in-demand: It is used by global organizations, start-ups, and individual developers—and its popularity is only growing.
  • Everyone can benefit from Python skills: Python is useful for data analysts, data scientists, and new and experienced developers alike.
  • Learn it sooner, rather than later: Python may not be going anywhere, but its uses are. Employers love Python experts, and new applications are emerging all the time…our advice is to learn it now, and don’t get left behind!

Keen to get started? We show you how you can learn Python in this simple step-by-step guide. If you’re looking for a hands-on introduction to the field of data in general, check out this free introductory data analytics short course.

And, if you found this post helpful, why not read more about Python and data analytics?

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to data analytics with a free, 5-day data analytics short course.
  2. Take a deeper dive into the world of data analytics with our Intro to Data Analytics Course.
  3. Talk to a Career Advisor to discuss career change and find out if data analytics is right for you.
  4. Learn about our graduates, see their portfolio projects, and find out where they’re at now.

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Will Hillier

Will Hillier

Contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

A British-born writer based in Berlin, Will has spent the last 10 years writing about education and technology, and the intersection between the two. He has a borderline fanatical interest in STEM, and has been published in TES, the Daily Telegraph, SecEd magazine and more. His fiction has been short- and longlisted for over a dozen awards.