Why I Am Crazy About Python

If you’re the type of person who likes knowing things before dwelling into them, this post is for you. It gives you a quick history of Python and its community of users. It shows you what Python ‘is’ good for and ‘is not’ good for (the ‘is’ section is much better than the ‘is not’ section) and the most important principles of good Python programming etiquette. For those of us new to programming, we will see how Python is very similar to tasks we are already familiar with.

 

What Is Python?

Python is a general-purpose, high-level language that can be extended and embedded In most other languages. That makes Python a smart choice for many programs.

 

Uses of Python

Python is ideal for projects that require quick development. It supports multiple programming philosophies, so it’s good for programs that require flexibility. The many classes and modules already written for Python provide versatility and save you time.

 

The short story of Python

Guido van Rossum created Python and is affectionately bestowed with the title “Benevolent Dictator for Life” by the Python community. In the late 1980s, Guido liked features of several programming languages, but none of them had all the features he wanted.

 

Features of Python

Scripting language: A script is a program that controls other programs. Scripting languages are good for quick development and prototyping because they’re good at passing messages from one component to another and at handling little stuff like memory management so the user doesn’t have to. Python has grown beyond scripting languages, which are used mostly for small applications.

The Python community prefers to call Python a dynamic programming language.

 

Indentation for statement grouping: Python specifies that several statements are part of a single group by indenting them. The indented group is called a code block. Other languages use different syntax or punctuation for statement grouping. For example, the C programming language uses ‘{‘to begin a block of code and ‘}’ to end it. Indentation is considered good practice in other languages also, but Python was one of the first to enforce indentation. Indentation makes code easier to read, and code blocks set off with indentation have fewer begin/end commands and punctuation to accidentally leave out (which means fewer bugs).

 

High-level data types: Computers store everything in 1s and 0s, but humans need to work with data in more complex forms, such as text. A language that supports such complex data is said to have high-level data types. A high-level data type is easy to manipulate. For example, Python strings can be searched, sliced, joined, split, set to upper- or lowercase, or have white space removed. High-level data types in Python, such as lists and dictionaries (which can store other data types), encompass much more functionality than in other languages.

 

Extensibility: An extensible programming language can be added to. These languages are very powerful because additions make them suitable for multiple applications and operating systems. Extensions can add data types or concepts, modules, and plug-ins. Python is extensible in several ways. A core group of programmers works on modifying and improving the language, while hundreds of other programmers write modules for specific purposes.

 

Interpreted: Interpreted languages run directly from source code that humans generate (whereas programs written in compiled languages, like C++, must be translated to machine code before they can run). Interpreted languages run more slowly because the translation takes place on the fly, but development and debugging is faster because you don’t have to wait for the compiler. Interpreted languages are easier to run on multiple operating systems. In the case of Python, it’s easy to write code that works on multiple operating systems—with no need to make modifications.

People argue over whether Python is an interpreted or compiled language.

Although Python works like an interpreted language in many ways, its code is compiled before execution (like Java), and many of its capabilities run at full machine speed because they’re written in C—leaving you free to focus on making your application work. Guido began writing Python during his Christmas vacation in 1989, and over the next year, he added to the program based on feedback from colleagues. He released it to the public in February 1991 by posting to the Usenet system of newsgroups. In Guido’s words: “The rest is in the Misc/HISTORY file.”

 

Fast development: High-level features make Python a wise alternative for prototyping and fast development of complex applications:
Python is interpreted, so writing working programs and fixing mistakes in programs is fast.

 

Versatility: Python modules (collections of features for performing tasks) let Python work with multiple operating systems and user interfaces. You can write and run programs on Windows,Mac, and UNIX (including Linux). Python programmers have also written code for other operating systems, from cell phones to supercomputers.

 

Convenience: Most programming languages offer convenience features, but none boast the combination of convenience and power that Python offers. Python can be embedded in other applications and used for creating macros. For example, Python is embedded in Paint Shop Pro 8 and later versions as a scripting language. Python is free for anyone to use and distribute (commercially or Non-commercially), so any individual or company can use it without paying license fees.Python has powerful text manipulation and search features for applications that process a lot of text information.
You can build large applications with Python, even though it doesn’t check programs before they run. In technical terms, Python doesn’t have compile-time checking. Python supports large programs by connecting multiple modules together and bundling them into packages. Each module can be built and tested separately.
Python includes support for testing and error-checking both of individual modules and of whole programs.

 

 

Companies that use Python

The main portal to Python and the Python community ishttp://www.python.org. This portal contains a page that lists some companies that use Python, including

· Yahoo! (for Yahoo! Maps)

· Google (for its spider and search engine)

· Linux Weekly News (published by using a Web application written in Python)

· Industrial Light & Magic (used in the production of special effects for such movies as The Phantom Menace and The Mummy Returns).

Other commercial uses include financial applications, educational software, games, and business software.

 

 

The Python developer community

Python has attracted many users who collectively make up a community that

· Promotes Python

· Discusses and implements improvements to the language

· Supports newcomers

· Encourages standards and conventions that improve Python’s usability and readability

· Values simplicity and fun (after all, Python was named after Monty Python, the British comedy troupe)

The Python community has created words to describe its philosophy:

Pythonic identifies code that meets the following criteria:
· It includes interfaces or features that work well with Python.
· It makes good use of Python idioms (standard ways of performing tasks) and shows understanding of the language.

Unpythonic code is roughly translated from other languages instead of following Python’s philosophy.

Pythonistas are knowledgeable users of Python (especially users who promote the language).

 

 

When you write a program, you are telling the computer to do something. Code with Lekan gives you step-by-step instructions that help you understand how to write the way a computer “thinks.”

REMEMBER Unlike you, computers are pretty stupid. They can do only a few things.
All the actions that humans make them do are the result of the computer’s doing those few things over and over, in different combinations, very quickly.
Imagine that you’re a baker, and you have taken on an apprentice baker who is as stupid as a computer. If you want to show your baker how to make bread from scratch, you need to start with very basic steps. You’ve already started by putting warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Then you and the apprentice have this conversation:

• You: “Add a package of yeast.”

• Apprentice: “I can’t find a package of yeast.”

• You: “The refrigerator is over there. Inside the refrigerator is a little package labeled Yeast. Go get it.”

• The apprentice gets the package and says, “Now what?”

• You: “Put the package in the bowl.”

• The apprentice puts the package in the bowl.

• You: “Hey! Open the package first!”

By now you might doubt the wisdom of hiring an apprentice baker who needs to be told things that seem completely obvious to you. But if you persevere, you’ll come out ahead.

If this apprentice is like a computer, then after finally figuring out how to bake bread in your kitchen, your new baker will be able to prepare 100 loaves a minute!

Combining ingredients

When your apprentice baker knows all the procedures involved in baking bread, such as finding the ingredients on the shelves, finding the pots and pans, mixing ingredients, and operating the oven, you can assign other tasks that use those same procedures. Baking bread involves combining ingredients in a bowl, so if you need to combine ingredients for another recipe, the apprentice already knows how to do that. So when you want to explain how to make cookies, you can now say “combine sugar, flour, and butter in a bowl” without explaining where to find the bowls or the sugar.

 

Now, go ahead and get crazy with Python.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. busayobaby says:

    Great analogy, can’t wait for more.

    Like

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