Python is a programming language that supports all object-oriented and procedural-oriented features. It’s designed to aid programmers in writing clear and logical lines of code, and it’s a popular choice among software engineers and developers. So, is Python hard to learn? The answer to this question depends on your existing level of experience and your objectives.
But if you’re looking for a job as a programmer, you’ll need to be well-versed in Python. In the following article, we’ll take a closer look at Python and its syntax, and we’ll provide you with useful tips to kickstart your coding career. But first, let’s see how it all began.
A Short Introduction to Python
Python has been around for a while and recently celebrated its 30th birthday. It was originally conceived by Guido van Rossum in the late 1980s as a successor to the ABC programming language. Its very first implementation was in 1989, but the broader public wouldn’t get to enjoy coding in Python until February 1991. Over the years, there have been several major updates, and the latest version is 3.10.2.
Python is unique because it supports multiple programming paradigms. That means it supports structured, procedural, functional, and object-oriented programming. It doesn’t stop there, though, as various extensions can add other programming paradigms into the mix. Thanks to its vast and comprehensive library, it’s often referred to within the programming community as the only “batteries included” language around.
The Fundamentals and Application of Python
One of Python’s defining characteristics is its basic syntax. Most coding languages are hard to read and understand if you’re not experienced enough. To non-programmers, a piece of code in something like C# looks like gibberish. But Python’s learning curve is far steeper than with some of the alternative programs because the code was designed to be highly readable. Python code looks more like you’re just writing an essay in English due to the fact that Python uses keywords in English instead of the usual punctuation other languages use. There are just 35 keywords you need to know to properly code using this language.
Speaking of syntax, there’s another thing Python does differently - the indentation. Instead of using curly brackets to designate blocks of code, Python relies on whitespace indentation. This translates into the program’s visual structure properly representing its semantic structure. This brings us closer to answering that fundamental question: is Python hard to learn? Well, it doesn't have to be if you pay attention.
Zen of Python
An interesting piece of Python history is something called the Zen of Python. This is a document containing 19 guiding principles upon which this programming language was designed. Tim Peters, one of the biggest contributors to the development of Python, created the list in 1999 and posted it on the program’s official mailing list. The Zen of Python defined this programming language so well that it was included in the official Python Enhancement Proposals document, as well as an Easter egg in the Python interpreter. Just type “import this,” and you’ll get this reminder on how to code in Python:
Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one– and preferably only one –obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than right now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea – let's do more of those!
Python Coding and Libraries
Thanks to its incredible flexibility, Python supports many protocols and formats for applications, including HTTP. By applying various modules available through the standard library, as well as the Python Package Index (containing over 300,000 modules), you’ll be able to develop apps for an incredible array of functions.
Python is able to work with web protocols, create user interfaces, generate various types of data, operate with complex math, and connect with databases. It’s an open-source language with interpreters for all operating systems. Naturally, you’ll also be able to code on and for various devices and operating systems.
Is It Worth Learning Python?
Despite being one of the oldest programming languages, Python is actually more popular than ever. As a matter of fact, it’s the most popular language right now and one of the most wanted IT skills. In recent years it ranked at the very top of the list of the best and most useful programming languages, with numerous professionals crowning it as the best language around. Some of the world’s biggest corporations and organizations use Python, including NASA, Google, Wikipedia, and CERN.
All that reinforces the need for any decent programmer to know Python. Is it really hard to learn Python if this skill gets into the world’s greatest tech companies? No, of course, it’s not. Here are some examples of Python usage in the modern tech world:
- AI and machine learning
- Data visualization
- Data analytics
- Data science
- Web development
- Game development
- Mobile app development
- API and GUI development
- Blockchain-related operations
This is just the tip of the iceberg. An advanced developer may use Python to create a brand new programming language. But it’s not just that. Many software solutions use an embedded version of Python as a scripting language. 3D animators, music producers, and artists all want to learn to code in Python as their tools employ modules and functions that can be enhanced through scripting. It doesn’t matter if it’s automation, a new renderer, various productivity optimizations, or a brand new feature, Python can handle it all.
The future is bright for this programming language and, with many new technologies looming on the horizon, it’s imperative to start learning today.
Learning to Code
You don’t need any prior coding experience to get started with Python, but having some knowledge is helpful because it’ll help you grasp the programming logic. So is Python hard to learn when you don’t have any coding experience? It can be, but with tutorials and the right amount of practice, you’ll be able to grasp the basics pretty quickly.
Unless you run a Linux machine, it’s highly unlikely you already have Python installed on your computer. For that, head over to the official Python website, where you’ll find all the required files for your operating system. You’ll also find installation instructions.
Next, you’ll need an editor. You can either go with an IDE like Komodo or pick one of the advanced text editors like PyDev, Notepad++, or Sublime Text.
How to Learn Python
As with any programming language, you’ll want to start with the basic syntax, get a feel around the development environments, and gradually move onto specific areas of software development you want to become an expert in. So how long does it take to learn python? The basics of this language aren’t complicated at all, and most people will master them within their first week. In fact, you can learn the basic syntax within hours thanks to some amazing YouTube tutorials.
From there, you can move on to different methods. The learning process depends on the method of your choice and the amount of time you can dedicate to it. The aforementioned Python website houses a list of resources and guides for beginners, as well as a comprehensive tutorial that you can read through and follow some examples. It’s a good resource when you need to find specific functions quickly.
Many aspiring users will also go for the interactive tutorials and courses. Pretty much every online learning platform that teaches programming offers Python tutorials, enabling you to choose the one that suits your learning style. We recommend choosing platforms that offer coding exercises and other interactive tools that allow you to apply your knowledge as you’re progressing through the course. Working on a small project in addition to the lessons is another great way to put what you’ve learned into practice.
Of course, books are always available if you prefer more traditional methods. You’ll find a good list of introductory books on the Python website. In fact, you’ll definitely be visiting the website often throughout your learning journey.