ELI5: What Is Python? An Overview Guide for Beginners

Joshua StanfordJoshua Stanford | 11 minute read | December 15, 2022
ELI5 What Is Python An Overview Guide for Beginners

In this article

With its easy-to-learn syntax, the Python programming language is becoming one of the most in-demand skill sets in the tech sector. Python is a highly intuitive language and its reliance on code blocks and self-explanatory syntax make it easily read and easily understood. 

So if you’re unfamiliar with the Python language, but want to learn more, then you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Python, including why it’s a good language for any programmer to learn, and how Python is being used today.  

What Is Python?

Named after Monty Python, the British comedy troupe, Python is one of the most well-used and popular programming languages. Developed by Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum in 1991, this object-oriented programming language was designed to provide a high-level language for utility development within operating systems that were being developed.

How Is Python Used?

Here are some of the main ways that Python is used in programming:

Web, Software, and Game Development

Web, Software, and Game Development

With a number of frameworks for software development, Python is great for building games, web applications, and software platforms. Many commercial platforms that are popular with online media consumers, like Spotify and YouTube, are heavily reliant on Python for back-end development. 

Several popular games have also been developed using Python. The Sims 4, Mount & Blade, and Eve Online are only a few of the games that have been designed using Python throughout their development. Many Python integrated API’s run 3D animation packages, making Python a key feature of many different game development processes from game structure to gaming animation.

Data Analytics

data analytics

Python is one of the primary programming languages used in all data analytics. It’s an ideal language for exploratory data analysis and has a number of libraries specifically designed for data analytics and data visualization. These libraries make it one of the best options, and it’s practically a standard requirement for programmers working with data processing and analytics.

Data Science

Data Science

The ever-growing field of data science also relies upon Python. The process of designing and implementing data science programs and algorithms is heavily driven by applications and programs that run Python code. With many data science libraries, Python has become one of the primary languages for those who are going into data science or pursuing a career in data engineering.

Cybersecurity

cybersecurity

Python is widely used in cybersecurity. Many tasks within cybersecurity, from host discovery to malware analysis, can all be achieved with Python. Many cybersecurity specialists are able to take the extra step of learning Python to be able to collaborate with their teams due to Python having a much more gentle learning curve.

Machine Learning and AI

Machine Learning and AI

One of the reasons that there’s such a demand for Python skills is because of Python packages like PyTorch and TensorFlow, which are used in many machine learning and artificial intelligence projects. These two packages are just a couple of the many ways that Python is crucial in machine learning development. As the future scope of possibilities expands for machine learning, the demand for skills in this area will continue to increase.

Business Applications

Business Applications

Python is used in the development of many business applications, from console-based applications to GUI and software development applications. It’s through Python-based development packages that applications like Django and Flask have completely revolutionized the web application development process and have given way to apps like Pinterest, Instagram, and Spotify.

Blockchain

Blockchain

Python can be used to construct blockchain technology. By creating an immutable, unhackable, distributed, and persistent list of records in Python, developers can easily construct a blockchain. This growing area of the financial markets has taken media outlets and stock trading networks by storm. Python is already being used frequently in stock trading algorithms, gambling platforms, and market index software. So it’s no surprise that it has become a vital programming language in Web3 technologies like blockchain.

Automation

automation

Many businesses have developed automation software for their processes using Python. Some examples of task automation that a business might develop for its operations would be automating emails, web scraping, or Google search automation. As this area of Python programming becomes more sophisticated, a growing number of businesses are learning that by automating tedious tasks like these, they are able to focus on higher-yield processes.

Features of Python Programming Language

what is python, Python Features

These are the features that make Python such a popular language:

Easy Maintenance and Code Reusability

One of the key features of the Python language is the easy maintenance and reusability of its code. Updating programs is easily done without much concern as so much of the code base is clean and structured. Through its functions, Python makes good use of code and allows for code reusability throughout programs. 

Support for Various Programming Paradigms

Python is a language that has a lot of support systems in place for many different applications. There’s not really any area of the industry where Python can’t be implemented. While some concerns like memory usage may make it less than an ideal option for some tasks like mobile app development, the platforms that are based on the Python programming language are often the ones used to develop web applications and mobile apps. It’s not always the ideal option to use Python, but the tool that you’ll end up using instead has a high likelihood of having been developed in Python. 

Seamless Compatibility With All Major Platforms and Systems

Python boasts seamless compatibility with systems that utilize Python code. It has the ability to be run on any operating system and does so unaltered. What this means is that it will run on a Windows computer with the same efficiency and speed that it will on a Mac. Python is also used as a standard component in many operating systems.

When Python is installed in an operating system, it communicates with the device via byte code, which is interpreted through the Python virtual machine. As it is easily integrated into an operating system, Python is integrated into many different development environments. Programs are then easily saved into source code files where it can be accessed again. Python is also very useful for deploying applications with the Google project hosting platform Google Cloud. 

Exhaustive Standard Library

A standard library for Python contains packages that cover all of its many use cases. It’s a core feature of Python that has made it a favorite for professionals from many backgrounds. From its scientific calculation and computational packages to its graphic interface and data visualization features, the many libraries in Python are part of what makes it so versatile.

Open-Source Tools and Framework

One of the reasons that Python is so popular is that it is an open-source language. Many of the tools within Python are also open source, making them highly accessible to the average developer with a lot of documentation and support sources from many different sites and individuals. This support extends to all areas and major versions of Python. Both current and previous versions have extensive documentation and extensive support systems in place for developers.

Quick Automation

The process of automation using Python is made easy by the fact that Python contains several modules that are specifically optimized for automation. These include PyAutoGUI, among others. 

Benefits of Python

what is python, Benefits of Python

These core features make Python such a popular option for programmers:

Readability

Python source code consists of code blocks and expressions that are easily understood. Without much training, a beginner-level programmer can look at a Python program and be able to discern the control flow of the program. It’s the readability and easy communication of Python program functions that makes it easily communicated across development teams.

Unique Cross-Platform Capabilities

Python has unique cross-platform capabilities. For example, uInterpreter is able to interpret Python to byte code and the reverse on all major operating systems and platforms. Python’s reference implementation, CPython, can be downloaded directly onto any system. This means that the same programs can be run using Apple developer tools can be run on a Windows computer with no difficulty.

Easy To Learn

Learning Python is not considered to be very difficult when compared to many other languages. The fundamentals can be easily learned in a course or certificate program.

A Robust Built-In Library

The many libraries that are available in Python negate the need for inputting packages that many other programs would require.

Open-Source Support

The open-source community surrounding Python is responsible for the large amount of content and support systems that exist for Python developers. With each stable release of Python, the dense network of Python developers churn out content and guides to help Python users navigate the new version

Drawbacks of Python

For all of its pros, Python has a few cons too, including:

Inefficient Memory Use

While the object-oriented programming paradigm and dynamic language features of Python make it highly functional and customizable, it is still very taxing on memory. This is usually combatted by using more efficient methods of writing a program with tools like list comprehensions and generator expressions.

Simplicity

The simplicity of the language has caused some to find it more difficult to build in. Despite Python’s intuitive control flow and use of indentation for statement grouping, many developers have found each step to require more steps to accomplish tasks.

Resources for Learning Python as a Beginner

The best part about being a programmer today is how many resources there are available. Courses, certificates, bootcamps, and online forums are all available to help you learn and develop your understanding of the Python language. Here are some of the most popular options:

Online Courses

what is python, Online Courses

Online Python courses are one of the most popular options for programming education outside of a formal degree. This popularity is because they are usually shorter than a university course, cost much less, and provide students with information on specific topics. Many of these courses and certificate programs are available with a purchase or with a subscription to the course website.

Bootcamps

There are many great bootcamps that can help you learn Python, in addition to other programming languages as well. A python bootcamp can help enhance the learning experience with 1:1 mentorship, career coaching, and many other services that the standard course doesn’t offer. You will be able to learn proper programming techniques, build a portfolio, and begin your job search process, all while completing a certificate program that will provide you with a certification upon your successful completion. 

Get To Know Other Data Science Students

Esme Gaisford

Esme Gaisford

Senior Quantitative Data Analyst at Pandora

Read Story

Diana Xie

Diana Xie

Machine Learning Engineer at IQVIA

Read Story

Brandon Beidel

Brandon Beidel

Senior Data Scientist at Red Ventures

Read Story

MOOCs 

In recent years, a large number of MOOCs—massive online open courses—have been released by universities, often in collaboration with coding websites. These MOOCs operate in a very similar way to a traditional online master’s degree, which seems to be losing favor with developers. With the popularity of online micro-degrees and courses, many universities and colleges have come to see the benefit of offering an option that allows students to specialize in a specific topic using their curriculum.

Coding Websites

Coding websites are one of the most well-used resources available to developers. One of the most valuable websites that most programmers visit at some point is Stack Overflow, a coding website with forums and answers to many questions that a programmer might have.

YouTube

what is python, Youtube

YouTube has a number of great courses that teach Python completely free. Some of the best Python courses available on YouTube are offered by freeCodeCamp, TechWorld with Nana, and many more. Videos can add a layer of understanding that can be lost by simply reading solutions and instructions on a forum or blog. If you are someone who finds a video explanation to be a better resource, then you will be able to find more than enough videos teaching Python for free on YouTube.

The Python Tutorial

what is python

This website is the resource for all things Python. It’s the official website for Python information and is updated on a regular basis to reflect the changes that have taken place in each major version of Python. While studying Python through this tutorial would be a self-paced effort, you could easily learn everything that you need to know about Python on this one website alone.

Online Communities and Forums

There are many online communities and forums that are available for developers who are learning and collaborating within the Python language. Some forums are considered official python forums, while others are not directly from the creators of Python and are instead unofficial communities that exist to provide support for both current and previous versions of Python. Despite the rights to the Python language being wholly owned by the Python Software Foundation, the support is largely open-sourced and democratized.

FAQs About Python

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Python:

What Are the Basic Concepts of Python?

Python has several basic concepts that anyone learning the language will want to know upfront. It is a strongly typed dynamic language and has specific data types. Python also contains strings, and it uses flow control statements, like ‘while,’ ‘for,’ and ‘if.’

Unlike many conventional languages, Python does not use curly brackets to indicate code blocks. Instead, code blocks in Python are indicated by indentation for statement grouping. It is an interpreted language that is interactive and object-oriented. It contains modules and packages that allow for different types of functionality within its library and is a high-level language that has a syntax that carries over neatly to many other programming languages and is highly intuitive.

Is Python a Good Programming Language To Learn?

Yes. Learning Python is one of the best things that new developers can do for their careers. It is one of the most in-demand languages in existence, with uses that span most of the tech world. Making your Python education a priority early in your career can open a number of doors and help you navigate your career with greater flexibility.

What Careers Can You Pursue if You Can Code in Python?

Python is used as one of the primary programming languages in a number of key programming fields. Data-centric fields like data analytics and data science are both roles where Python is used heavily. Software engineering and web development also have a significant amount of Python usage. If you’re pursuing a career in cybersecurity, which is a growing field, you’ll find that knowing how to program in Python can become a great asset to you.

Is Python Easy To Learn?

Python is widely considered one of the most intuitive programming languages. Its syntax is straightforward and its data types are very commonly understood terminology. Overall, it’s a widely understood and widely used programming language, largely due to the low learning curve that it offers.

Can I Teach Myself Python?

You can, but learning from a proven source can help you to avoid bad habits and can show you the most efficient ways to design and develop programs. With it being such a popular language, there are many official certificate programs that you can take in order to learn Python. In the long run, all developers are responsible for self-educating as they improve their skills over time. As a programming language that is easily learned, it is not uncommon for programmers to self-teach many aspects of the language.

Since you’re here…
Thinking about a career in data science? Enroll in our Data Science Bootcamp, and we’ll get you hired in 6 months. If you’re just getting started, take a peek at our foundational Data Science Course, and don’t forget to peep our student reviews. The data’s on our side.

Joshua Stanford

About Joshua Stanford

Joshua Stanford is a content writer and copy editor with a background in academic writing. While he has written on several topics and industries, he focuses primarily on scientific writing and educational materials related to biotech and emerging technologies.