Python! - No, not the snake.
  • Shaun Ting

Python! - No, not the snake.

If you're reading this article at the time of its publishing, you're probably stuck in the same situation as myself and many others. Stuck at home, don't know what to do. Well, here's a suggestion. Instead of spending hours on the latest Netflix shows, why not learn a programming language?

GIF: https://giphy.com/gifs/computer-gif-artist-code-fedryX7dMGMe6lgqDm

What exactly is Python?


If you've been even slightly interested in the world of programming, I'm sure that you have heard the name 'Python' somewhere along the way. Python is in fact, one of the most powerful programming languages available to us. Python started off as a gap-filler at the beginning of its time; a mere complement to the bigger programming languages in that period.


In recent years, however, Python has experienced a surge in popularity. In fact, it is statistically considered to be the most demanded programming language of employers. The reason for that is pretty straightforward. Python is more productive in comparison to the other major programming languages like Java and C++. To put it simply, one can perform the same operations in Python as they could in Java but with less time, effort and lines of code.

Why should I learn Python?


One thing that differentiates Python from the other major programming languages like Java and C++ is that it is more accessible and beginner-friendly.

The language is especially famous for its clean syntax and English-like commands, meaning that even those with no prior programming knowledge can get an idea of what the code means.


Python also has a very broad range of applications in computing. We use Python in Web Development, Software Development, Business Applications, Education and even Games. It's also used in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, a very complex and interesting topic that we'll explore in the future!


Universities and businesses are already recognizing Python as the first language of choice these days. Whether you're looking to pick up programming as a hobby or a future career option, Python is definitely THE place to start that journey.

Hello, World!


Programmers start learning new languages by writing code that outputs/displays the words "Hello, World!". It's a simple program that serves the purpose of illustrating the basic syntax of a programming language.


Here I'll demonstrate the "Hello, World!" program done in both Python and Java, so you can understand why Python is far easier to learn with its simpler syntax.


Here is the code in Java:


public class HelloWorld

{

public static void main (String[] args)

{

System.out.println("Hello, World!");

}

}


Yeah, you probably didn't understand a thing.

Now let's take a look at the code in Python:


print ("Hello, World!")


Uhh, yeah, that's it. Pretty self-explanatory right?

Mark my words, you'll learn Python in no time.

What about other programming languages?


Programmers often argue that Python still comes off as inferior to the other programming languages available, with the argument that Python is slow. In fact, super slow compared to the likes of Java and C++. To clarify, the definition of 'slow' in this context is that the programs basically run slower.


The cause of this is that Python is actually an interpreted programming language. An interpreted language, in Layman's terms, is a programming language that has to go through an interpreter in order to turn the code you've written into the language your computer understands. In comparison, Java and C++ are compiled languages; they don't need to be run through a program to help with interpretation. Rather, the code is converted directly into what the computer's processor understands. You know, the whole 1's and 0's thing.


So in exchange for a smoother learning curve, you're subject to programs running slower... right? Well yes, but actually no. First off, I never really mentioned exactly how slow we're talking. When comparing the speed of the interpreted and compiled languages, it can more or less be represented by the difference of 0.01 and 0.001 seconds. While the difference is there on paper, you just don't feel that difference. So don't let that stop you from learning Python!

Well, where do I start?


You'll want to start off by downloading the latest stable version of Python from the official website. Now you have Python installed on your computer.. then what? Then, you'll need a program that will let you write and run the code. That's where an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) comes in. There are many different IDEs available for download on the internet, but I personally prefer PyCharm over the others.


Now that you have it all set up and ready to go, a simple Google search will give you plenty of beginner guides to get you started. There are also PLENTY of free courses available on YouTube that are more than enough to give you a head-start. There is an abundance of these courses available on the site, most of which have a duration of up to 10 hours! You honestly can't go wrong with any of them.


Remember to take it slow, and don't do it all in one sitting. Always take breaks, and watch some Netflix even. Once you're done with the courses, don't stop there! Start on some personal projects and try your hand at developing some software. Trust me, witnessing the end product work flawlessly is an indescribable feeling!

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