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Python is a high level, versatile, object oriented programming language. Python has the dual advantage of being simple and easy to learn while also being powerful and highly effective. This makes it suitable for programmers of all backgrounds from experts to novices. Python was created in the early 1990s by Guido Van Rossum and has since been one of the most widely used programming languages. It was ranked third on a list of the top programming languages of 2016 in the IEEE spectrum magazine. One reason Python is so in demand is because it is a general-purpose programming language and serves a wide range of purposes. It is used in web development, software development, scientific computing, education, and desktop GUI creation. Python can be found in classrooms, tech companies and NASA among many other places. There are a few implementations of Python written in C, Java, and C#. Jython and IronPython are the implementations for Java and C# respectively.
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Features of Python
Python is open source and therefore programs can be used, modified and distributed freely. It is available for most platforms including Windows, Mac, and all Linux distributions. Python is an interpreted language which means Python programs don’t have to be compiled like in C and C++. The advantage of this is that you can simply copy your program onto any computer and run it, without worrying about finding a compatible compiler for a certain platform.
The Python Standard Library is extensive and provides a vast number of functionalities. It contains a large number of modules written in both Python and C. In addition to the standard library there are many more libraries and packages available in the Python Package Index. Additional features that make Python popular are that it is extensible, embeddable and provides many built-in types. The Python community is also known to be very collaborative and helpful. They have made many contributions and spread knowledge over the years. Lastly, the simple syntax of Python ensures that you are not bogged down with details of the language and can instead focus on writing code to solve problems.
Python 2 and 3
Both Python 2.x and Python 3.x are used by programmers today. Which version is suitable for you will depend on what your application does. There are many significant changes made to Python 3.x that can be found in the What’s New in Python 3.0 document. Some notable changes include better Unicode support, new and improved modules in the standard library and features that enhance security and reliability. Overall Python 3.x makes it easier and faster to design good quality robust applications. However, there are still some platforms that do not support Python 3.x and many third-party packages that have not made the transition yet. Much of the Python documentation and learning resources are also still for Python 2.x, though they are being updated gradually. The good news is that a lot of the major packages for web development such as Django, Flask, CherryPy, and Pyramid have been ported to Python 3.x.
Python for Web Development
There are many Python frameworks available for web development. Most frameworks are designed to handle server side applications, though there are a few that can handle client side as well. Frameworks come in all different sizes and can provide minimal, moderate and extensive functionality. Some examples include Bottle which consists of only one file, a microframework such as Flask which is used for small applications and full stack frameworks like Django that provide extensive support and capabilities. Different web frameworks try to meet different needs and each has its advantages and disadvantages. There are many full stack and non-full stack Python web frameworks of varying popularity available for free. They generally also have free learning resources and documentation available on the internet. Several of the popular frameworks run on WSGI. WSGI is a python standard that deals with server-application communications and oversees the chaining of web applications to process a request. While the existing frameworks provide a wide range of functionalities and allow you to accomplish a lot of things, there is still room for new frameworks to be developed.
Django is one of the most well-known and widely used Python frameworks for web development. It is known for allowing developers to write quick, clean, and easy to maintain code. Django is one of those frameworks that does a lot of work beneath the surface that the programmer never sees but benefits from. Django was created when two web developers Simon Wilson and Adrian Holovaty working for a company that managed news websites were having trouble meeting their deadlines. In order to solve their problems quickly and finish their work on time they created Django. Since Django was created to meet the demands of news websites, it is especially good for content sites that have similar functionality to a news site and are driven by large amounts of data. But this is not the only thing Django is good for, it is highly effective for all sorts of web applications and tasks. Included in the extensive list of things Django does is, handling user authentication, improving security and scaling to handle high traffic.
Flask is another popular Python web development framework. It is a micro framework and is intended for smaller applications. Flask is one of the newer frameworks created in 2010 and is based on the Werkzeug toolkit and Jinja2 library. Flask does not include facilities that are handled by preexisting libraries. Therefore, a database abstraction layer and form validation cannot be found in Flask. However, extensions that provide these capabilities are supported by Flask and can be integrated into your Flask project easily.
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