What is Python?
What is Python?
Python is a high-level language that allows you to use lower-level coding or quite simply, a general-purpose programming language.
Is it a programming language? Is it a data language? Is it a machine learning language? Is it a scripting language?
Yes to all of the above, although it is used in very different ways depending on what area you work in. A senior programmer told me recently that “Python is just a scripting language” (note to self, do not put forward for Python roles) so I decided to reach out to some of my network.
What the experts say:
- Easy to learn and user friendly
- Very Readable
- Great for prototyping
- Flexible Language
- Open-source and has a strong community with extensive Libraries
- Hard to find best practices
- Easy to go wrong (no prevention's)
- Security (implicit solution)
- Running performance could be better
- Python changes so often that it can be difficult to maintain (currently 3.9)
Will Python overtake Java?
I have seen the debate floating around that Python is overtaking Java and put this question to a couple of people in my network. The general consensus was no, however Python is growing in areas that Java does not have a presence. For example, within Data Science, Machine Learning and Computer Vision, Python is quickly becoming the number one language and replacing the likes of R and C++.
For years, Java was the go-to language because of its multi-platform support and it is so engraved at enterprise level that it will be near impossible to replace.
My guess would be that Java will continue to be the most used programming language, but Python is becoming one of the most popular languages of choice for beginners, graduates and senior programmers looking to try something new. I hear plenty of Java Developers wanting to transfer to Python, but I am yet to hear a Python Developer looking to learn Java.
Where do you see the future of Python?
I put this question to my contributors and most agreed that the future of Python is in Machine Learning and Computer Vision. 10 years’ ago, Python in Machine Learning did not exist and now it is leading the way with more than 50% of Data Scientists, Machine Learning and Computer Vision Engineers’ using it.
In the next 5 years’ I think we will hear Python being talked about a lot more as a scientific language and because of its open-source capabilities, it has become a strong competitor to MATLAB as the license for it is very expensive.
Hot Topics in the Python Community
When you think of Python, most people think of programming. In fact, as one of my connections told me, some of the best contributors to Python libraries are non-programmers. The language is used by researchers, scientists, mathematicians and programmers who make it such a strong open-source language.
Python was used to target the spread of Covid-19 because it is a very powerful data mining and modelling tool. Scientists can use it on different models, seek data on Covid and pull it together rapidly and effectively.
Python is also being used in the battle against Cancer. This topic has been covered at numerous PyCon events over the years.
Tips from the experts:
- Quit video games (just kidding)
- Do not quit at the first stumbling block
- Take it step by step and 1 year at a time
- Before you graduate, apply what you have learnt (opensource projects or an internship)
- Use online content, the best developers are Google experts!
- When learning a language, learn the concepts first
- Don’t join a Master’s programme unless you have good programming skills already
Python Meetups in Ireland
PyLadies Dublin - the first Irish group of the international PyLadies. Everyone is welcome and they run monthly meetups. I would encourage any Python enthusiasts to join in.
Python Ireland - It is suitable for all levels and new people are always welcome.
From my experience:
Python is becoming more and more popular and is a language that I would recommend learning, even if it is just the basics and you end up going down a different route commercially.
The most used framework in Ireland, in my opinion, is Django. Although most employers will consider Django or Flask experience. The majority of companies use Python on Linux which might sound obvious but if you are installing Python, I would stick to Linux O/S.
Thousands of beginners and graduates are learning Python and you need to set yourself apart. How do you do this, did you say? Practice what you have learnt!
The main stumbling block now is tech tests, and from my experience, most companies use them. Not every job spec will ask for REST API experience, but most will ask you to build a REST API during a coding challenge, and this is where I see most junior to mid level developers fall. Knowing how to build a basic RESTful API along with understanding the fundamentals of Python, Django or Flask will set you apart.
Additionally, when completing a tech test or coding challenge, use the language and framework that you are most comfortable with if it allows. It might seem like a good idea to use the “latest and greatest” language and framework but a basic tech test that works is far better than an over-complicated tech test that does not run properly.
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