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When it comes to popular languages, few can challenge Python for trendiness, versatility, or development speed. If you’re even peripherally aware of what’s going on in the development world, you know about Python, and you know that it’s big.
What makes Python so popular? The fact that it’s open-source certainly helps. It’s run by a non-profit organization, and it’s totally free to download and use, even for commercial purposes. The Python language is also designed to be easy to read, which is a big help in maintaining software and web apps.
In fact, it’s not just easy to read; it’s easy to develop with, too. Compared to some lower-level languages, Python is concise and quick to write. That means the development cycle is shorter, which reduces costs. And who doesn’t love that?
Python can also be used for a wide variety of purposes, from standalone desktop software to the development of web apps (the most popular web framework for deploying Python online is called Django, and is similarly highly regarded).
Maybe more than anything else, Python’s ease of learning makes it stand out from many of the other popular modern languages. When it comes to learning a programming language, Python is one of the best ones to start with. There’s even a great beginner’s guide for non-programmers on the official site. Python’s syntax is closer to natural language than other options, making it easy for beginners to pick up.
That means there are a lot of Python programmers out there, which is another factor that keeps development costs down. Python development is only getting more popular, and that’s good for anyone who needs a Python app or project completed.
Python is also easily extensible, and there’s a lot of functionality that’s very easy to drop in with third-party packages. Python developers design and share these all the time, making it easy to find what you’re looking for and add it to your app. Many of these packages give Python online capabilities or help it interact with other languages.
When it comes to academic computing, big data analysis, scientific programming, and other data-heavy applications, Python is almost always the first choice for developers. The abundance of tools for these applications makes it easy to get apps up and running, and the language is well-suited for these uses.
Unfortunately, Python can be a bit slower than other languages, but unless you need lightning speed for performance-critical applications, this isn’t likely to be a problem.
Django, while not an inherent part of Python, is almost the default choice for Python web development. Pinterest, Instagram, and Disqus all use Python and Django in their sites, and that’s a big endorsement. Like Python’s association with data-heavy applications, the Python / Django combination is often similarly deployed; sites that deal with a lot of data and servers with high traffic volume are often served well by Python. The fact that Python is a relatively conservative language and isn’t updated as often as some alternatives also makes it a great choice when you want to minimize upkeep.
This is as thorny an issue as any programming language comparison. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Ruby is elegant, while Python is clear. This is hard to understand without doing a bit of programming with each, but suffice to say that it’s much easier to read Python, especially if you’re not an experienced Python programmer. That being said, once you understand Ruby very well, the benefits of its language style become clear, and you see the advantages of elegant code.
Python is less flexible, but more stable. Ruby doesn’t protect developers from themselves, but it also allows those developers to innovate in their code more easily. There’s no one right way to do things in Ruby. But that means it’s also easier to break. Python is strict, but it’s very stable.
Both languages have large online libraries of extensions. Ruby’s gems and Python’s packages allow developers to quickly add functionality to apps without coding from scratch, and that’s helpful in programming quickly.
Both languages have great online frameworks. Ruby on Rails is one of the most popular web development frameworks, and Python’s Django is also widespread and well-regarded. If you’re looking to develop an app to be deployed online, both are solid choices (though remember Python’s great affinity for data-heavy applications).
Both of these languages are very powerful and very good at what they do. Ruby on Rails might edge out Python/Django for web development, but Python certainly holds the crown when you’re working with a lot of data.
Like any other debate, the Ruby vs. Python argument is best solved by speaking with a developer who’s comfortable with both, and finding out which is better for your particular project.
Because Python is so easy to learn, there’s a lot of interest in picking up the basics. Fortunately, there’s a huge amount of resources available for aspiring Python developers. Here are some of the best out there:
And, of course, there are plenty of textbooks, online courses, and higher education options that’ll help you learn Python. The best way to learn depends very much on how you like to learn. Take a look at the options and get started today!