This is an update of a post that originally appeared on October 13, 2014.
There are many issues to consider when choosing a programming language. Python is no exception. Just because I feel it’s the right tool to meet some of my needs doesn’t mean it will work well for you. That’s why the Understanding Why Python is So Cool section of Chapter 1 in Beginning Programming with Python For Dummies, 3rd Edition is so important. This section tells you why I see Python as an important programming language and why you might want to use it too. I break the problem into three parts: what Python can do for your application needs, how Python can benefit you personally, and which organizations are using Python for specific tasks. Between the three sections, you can make an intelligent decision as to whether Python will actually serve your particular needs. I really don’t want you to take my word for it—I would rather know that you selected Python based on your own research.
No matter how interesting a language is, no matter how many features it provides, and no matter how much you personally like it—you can’t typically learn a language that lacks broad community support with any ease. If no one else is using the language and contributing to it in some major way, the language will eventually die. Fortunately, Python doesn’t have this problem. Chapter 21 of my book discusses ten essential libraries for Python, none of which come with the language when you download it. In fact, the introduction to this chapter lists a number of places where you can find even more libraries to use.
The thing is that Python keeps attracting ever more attention. A recent Dev article, 10 Best Tools Python Programmers Can Learn in 2023, provides you with access to tools you really need to know about. The point about tools is that they represent an essential form of community support. As people use a language, they start to build places where others can discuss it with them. However, that’s only one form of community support. Tools represent a significant increase in support because creating, debugging, and supporting a tool requires time and effort that most developers don’t have in abundance. Someone really has to believe in a language to provide this sort of language support.
The fact is that Python has become a “must learn” language. It has great community support, provides a broad range of functionality through libraries and tools, and is fully supported by the academic community. Even though other languages have had these advantages and eventually failed, the chances are far less likely that Python will experience problems. In fact, many rankings sites show Python as being the most popular language out there right now.
Community support is an essential determinant of programming language popularity. How do you rank Python in your toolbox and why? Let me know at [email protected]. Tell me about your favorite Python library or tool and how you use it as well. (No vendor emails please, I want to hear from developers who are actually using products.) I’m interested in discovering just what makes some languages so incredibly popular (Python being one of the most popular).