Thoughts

Technical 101 Series: Python

In our second installment of this series, we unpack one of the most popular programming languages of all time.

by Susan Mees

What is Python?

Python is a widely-used programming language that is used for general-purpose programming, like web development, software development, mathematics, and other applications. It has been in use for multiple decades, making it one of the older programming languages that is still in popular use. Python was created to be open source (so that any developer could contribute to the language), easy and intuitive, and suitable for everyday tasks so that teams could reduce development times.

The core philosophy behind Python can be outlined in a few bullet points:

  • “Beautiful is better than ugly.”
  • “Explicit is better than implicit.”
  • “Simple is better than complex.”
  • “Complex is better than complicated.”
  • “Readability counts.”

History of Python

Python was originally conceived of in the late 1980s, in the Netherlands, by Guido Van Rossum. It was built with the goal of offering an open source programming language that was easy to use and widely available. Van Rossum began implementation of Python in December 1989, released the language in 1991, and was the lead developer on Python until July 2018, when he stepped down. Python is now managed by a 5-member “steering council.”

The language was heavily used by Google and Dropbox - both companies helped sponsor the development of the language by hiring van Rossum - which helped bolster its popularity. In the mid 2000s, Django, a web framework written in Python was released, which was used by sites like Reddit and Instagram.

Pros & Cons of Python

Python is one of the most widely used programming languages out there - but what makes it so special?

Because of the leading principles involved in its creation, Python happens to be easy to learn, easy to teach, and easy to use, making it a favorite for both new programmers and well-seasoned developers. Part of the ease of use for Python comes from its readable and maintainable code base. Moreover, Python is compatible with most operating systems, supports sevel programming paradigms, and taps into several open-source frameworks making it suitable for a wide variety of projects.

The simplicity of Python makes it necessary to use Python libraries, modules, frameworks, etc. to accelerate development. As an interpreted language, Python is slower than C++ and Java and long-term, may be difficult to keep running at an optimal speed or performance.

Where have I seen Python in the wild?

Python can be used for a wide variety of projects including web development, software development, mathematics, and more - meaning that you’ve likely come across Python in a variety of uses.

Who is using Python? Some popular examples include: Google, Youtube, Instagram, Spotify, and Reddit.

Why does Promptworks use Python?

Python offers our team a widely accessible and usable language option when building various projects. By building in Python, our developers are taking extra care to make their code accessible to a client’s internal team long-term and to keep an eye on low-cost maintenance. Python works especially well for our early stage clients who are looking for quick development and proof of concepts.

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