Python is all the rage in web dev and tech circles right now. But which big companies use Python for web development? Find out in this guide.
There’s been a lot of hype about the Python programming language over the last few years. But is that all it is? Hype? In web development circles, there’s no doubt Python is one of the most popular coding languages. The 2021 Stack Overflow Developer Survey reported that Python is far and away the language developers most want to learn. The survey also highlighted that having Python in your toolkit commands a higher salary, which matches our own research into how much Python developers can earn. Convinced yet?
In this post, we’ll explain what Python is and how it’s used for web development. We’ll then dive in with 13 real-world examples of Python in web development. In all, we’ll cover:
- What is Python?
- How is Python used for web development?
- 13 real-world examples of Python in web development
- How to become a Python developer
- Next steps
Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in.
1. What is Python?
A young Dutch coder called Guido van Rossum created Python back in 1991. He wanted to develop a multipurpose programming language that would work across multiple programming paradigms and emphasize code readability. Back then, most coding languages were pretty abstract. Python allowed developers to express programming concepts using fewer lines of code and in a much more intuitive way. This was pretty revolutionary. And so, while Python was first intended for writing basic scripts, it soon grew in popularity. And in the digital age, it has boomed.
Python is sometimes referred to as a “batteries included” language thanks to one of its standout features: the Python Package Index (PyPI), which has over pre-existing 70,000 libraries of code. For all these reasons and more, Python is now used on projects large and small, across many different disciplines from special effects and data analytics to deep learning and, of course, web development. The language is being constantly improved with new releases, with Python 3.8 particularly full of useful features.
2. How is Python used for web development?
Python’s core features make it a popular option for web development. Firstly, Python is free, open-source, and widely available. More importantly, though, it is also highly adaptable. Python allows developers to create websites according to several different programming paradigms. For instance, it is suitable for both object-oriented programming (OOP) and functional programming (FP). You can learn about the differences between the two in our guide to FP vs OOP.
It also boasts dynamic typing capabilities. In layman’s terms, this just means that Python scripts don’t require compiling (or translating) before execution. Instead, they’re executed at runtime. This is useful for web development, since it requires less coding and makes debugging easier. We could go and, and in fact, we have—we’ve created a beginner’s guide to the advantages of web developers learning Python.
Fortunately, backend coding using Python is much easier using web frameworks freely available on PyPI. Two of these, Django and Flask, are especially popular and remove much of the heavy lifting from backend coding. These libraries are widely accepted as secure, scalable, and—once you get to grips with Python’s straightforward syntax—easy to use.
Of course, you might find this all a bit abstract at this stage. We now understand how Python is used for web development, but what does this look like in practice? Next, we’ll take a look at some of the most famous Python website examples so that you can see this language in action.
3. Real-world examples of Python in web development
Is Python that popular, we hear you ask? The answer is a resounding yes! Realize it or not, you use it all the time. From binging the latest series on Netflix to checking your DMs on Instagram, many of our most beloved websites and apps incorporate Python in their tech stack. Frankly, its ubiquity alone is a testament to the fact that Python is well worth adding to your development toolkit.
Next, let’s look at 13 Python website examples that demonstrate just how dynamic and adaptive this language can be.
If you ever wanted evidence of a company that kept pace with digital change, Netflix is the one! While Netflix used to rent DVDs by post, they quickly jumped on the digital bandwagon and expanded to become one of the most popular streaming services in the world.
From a web development standpoint, Python is at the core of their success. Developers at Netflix explain that they use Python throughout “the full content lifecycle.” In short, this means that Python sits at the base of many Netflix applications from their security tools and recommendation engine, to their in-house content distribution network, Open Connect (which delivers streaming content to its end users). Now you know!
The go-to forum for everything from news to bleeding-edge social commentary, Reddit has long been a staple of the world’s internet diet. But did you know that its server-side is coded in Python? You don’t see it, but whenever you send a request via your browser to Reddit, the web server (Reddit) uses Python to translate your request. It then sends back the necessary HTML, which is what you see in your browser. In this case, you can think of Python as the middle man between your server request and what pops up on your screen. Who knew?
If you’re old enough to remember the tedious days of ripping CDs onto your computer DVD drive (the what drive?) then you’ll appreciate just how much easier Spotify has made it to listen to music. Spotify makes heavy use of Python on its web backend, which comprises many interconnected services. According to the company, around 80% of these are coded using Python.
Spotify also has a proprietary data analytics package called Luigi. Designed to quickly prototype complex data jobs, Luigi powers Spotify’s Radio and Discover features, as well as recommendations for people you might want to follow. And what language is Luigi coded in? You guessed it: Python.
First launched in 2008, the file hosting service Dropbox was doing cloud storage long before it was cool! Today it remains at the cutting edge of the sector and much of its success is down to Python. Dropbox has used Python since its inception, both server-side and on the client end.
The language’s cross-platform support and readability led Dropbox to adopt the language since these allowed them to implement, test and deploy new product features at speed. The company is also a firm believer in open-source. They regularly share their innovations with the wider world – something we like to see! The company is so focused on Python that, from 2012 to 2019, they even employed Guido van Rossum, Python’s creator.
Probably the internet’s most famous Q&A site (at least since Yahoo Answers departed—RIP) Quora is best known for its compelling questions and occasionally dubious responses. Nevertheless, it’s hugely well-known and is another site that makes heavy use of Python. Being such a dynamic site, Python has allowed Quora to build and test new functionality with fewer lines of code, streamlining their new feature development.
Thanks to Python’s simplicity of use, designers, data analysts, and even non-engineers can write code as and when required. In terms of their exact tech stack, Quora uses numerous Python libraries on its backend, including Tornado and PyPy, amongst others.
Never has getting from A to B (or ordering takeout) been as simple as it has since Uber arrived in our lives. But did you know that much of the ride-hailing app’s functionality is built using Python? Like Quora, they tend to use Tornado.
And while Python isn’t the only language Uber uses (it accounts for about 35% of their tech stack) much of its backend functionality relies heavily on it. This includes data analytics features for predicting supply and demand, user surges and arrival times—highly mathematical functions that Python is ideally suited to.,
Because of Amazon, we can get pretty much anything delivered to our doorsteps at the click of a button, and all without needing to spare a thought for how it arrives there. Thanks, Jeff Bezos! But did you know that Amazon uses Python, too?
In particular, Amazon engineers have produced Python machine learning algorithms that interact with the company’s Hadoop data storage system. This mighty analytics stack powers Amazon’s famed recommendation engine that encourages us to purchase new products. Analyzing user search and purchase habits, Python helps Amazon recommend even more stuff for us to buy! Cool, huh?
The virtual pinboard and social bookmarking site Pinterest has been gracing our computer screens for over a decade. It allows users to curate image collections for everything from puppies, to wedding dresses and driftwood art. As is often the case with new websites, Pinterest was initially built using Python, because that’s what languages its developers knew best.
It’s since taken a more pragmatic approach, with former Pinterest Chief Technology Officer, Vanja Josifovski, explaining that Pinterest uses many programming languages depending on the use case. However, the site’s continued reliance on machine learning strongly suggests that Python remains a core part of their tech stack.
Lyft: One of many company logos you may recognize on hire bikes, scooters, and cars in cities across the world. Like Uber, there’s no question they’ve transformed urban mobility. Also like Uber, Python is a core language at the company.
According to Principal Tech Lead, Roy Williams: “It’s not uncommon for us to have services configured by Salt (written in Python) while running a web server with Flask, serving data with scikit-learn, and manipulating with Pandas… this is pretty common for us.” In short, they use Python widely! Be sure to check out Roy’s whole talk on YouTube.
Google, the search engine so ubiquitous it spawned its own verb (Google it, if you don’t know what we mean). Early on, Google’s engineering team famously decided: “Python when we can, C++ when we must.” And hey, it seemed to work out for them. Today, Python is an ‘official language’ at Google and has many continued applications across the organization, from system building and administration to code evaluation. Of course, as the need for data analytics becomes increasingly important in big tech, Python is also used in many of Google’s cutting-edge machine learning and AI projects.
Distracting us from existential angst with kitten videos since 2005, the world’s largest video streaming site is a prime real-world example of Python in web development. YouTube functionality including view video, administrator video, data access, and website control templates are just a few ways in which Python powers the site.
Interestingly, though, it didn’t start this way. YouTube’s original codebase was PHP. Over its first few months, however, the founders migrated it to Python, due to the latter’s greater speed, performance, and flexibility. A pretty compelling advertisement for Python, in our book.
The world’s most famous social networking site, Facebook (now hurriedly renamed Meta) has kept us connected to our friends (and stalking exes) since 2004. Unless you live under a rock, you’ll know the site has its finger in many pies, from dating to live-streaming. As a result, it relies on many different languages for its products and services.
However, Python plays no small part, accounting for at least 21 percent of their codebase, mostly in the area of production engineering. Oh, and remember that Tornado web framework we mentioned (used by Quora and Uber)? Yep, Facebook developed it.
Best known for its starring role in the invention of the selfie, picture sharing site Instagram is another social platform that’s now so ubiquitous it’s impossible to imagine life without it. And we have Python to thank. Instagram’s original backend was built on a Django framework—still used to this day. And since Facebook bought Instagram, the integration between the two platforms has grown increasingly complex. APIs, search mechanisms, and other functionality are all coded in Python. Bet you didn’t know that!
4. How to become a Python developer
As these real-world examples of Python in web development show, the language is far more than just hype. It’s a core component of some of the biggest websites and apps in the world.
And, since these companies sit at the top of the tech economy, Python certainly won’t be going anywhere any time soon. And why would we want it to? It’s versatile, secure, and scalable. Plus: it’s easy to learn.
So, if you want to become a Python developer, what first? The main thing to decide is if you want to use it more for web development or something else, like data analytics. Both are popular applications of the language, but as our Python website examples demonstrate, web development is a good choice.
If you agree, then we’d recommend getting to grips with the Django web development framework first. It’s well-established, widely used, and gives you a chance to learn the basics. Here are few things to get you started:
- Read up on Python: Before you commit to learning it, make sure you research Python further—find out about its applications and decide which you’d most like to learn.
- Download the necessary tools: To get started, you’ll need to download and install the latest version of Python and an appropriate integrated development environment (IDE).
- Take a tutorial: Start learning the basics of Python with some online tutorials, like this Python for Beginners guide or this introductory YouTube video.
- Get support online: Got questions? Seek out advice from other developers on a forum like Stack Overflow or the GitHub community.
- Take a structured course: Once you’ve done all of the above, you should have a better idea if Python is for you. If it is, why not invest in a structured online course of study?
5. Next steps
So, there we have it! As we’ve seen, Python is a versatile and ubiquitous programming language with many popular use cases, not least in web development. If you’re a total coding novice, we hope our python website examples have shown you just what a useful string it is to add to your bow.
Ready to take the plunge with learning Python for web development? Learn more about how to become a web developer in this post, or check out the following to learn more about the field: