Getting Started With Python: A Python Tutorial for Beginners

By Ariella Brown | Last updated: February 10, 2021
Source: mirsad sarajlic

Why is Python the best programming language to learn now?

Python is a programming language that Guido van Rossum developed back in 1989. The story behind the name is that van Rossum was reading scripts from the British comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus at the same time and so took a shortened form of the name for his language. Despite the fact that the name is not, in fact, inspired by a reptile, its logo features what looks like a pair of snakes.

The latest version of Python is available from python.org, at python.org/downloads, and development sources can be accessed at github.com/python/cpython.

Why is Python the Best Programming Language to Learn Now?

Python has become particularly popular over the past several years due to its great versatility and usefulness for everything from standard development to web development to advanced machine learning and AI.

It is often used to set up a framework for web development, machine learning and scripting. All users appreciate its ease of use and the vast support available.

For those planning a career in data science, Python coding skills are essential. It’s the third item listed on KD Nuggets, 9 Must-have skills you need to become a Data Scientist, updated, which grew to 13 as a result of multiple updates.

Python is often used in machine learning to create algorithms to be able to recognize patterns to recognize common themes. KDNuggets observed that “40 percent of respondents surveyed by O'Reilly use Python as their major programming language.” That was based on a 2013 report.

By 2020, Wired declares Python Is More Popular Than Ever. Its proof is that the language advanced from third to second place in RedMonk’s Programming Language Rankings: January 2020.

Another motivation for some to learn Python now is to make a career out of it. The business demand for the skill that translates into very respectable salaries. According to Indeed $111,306 is the average annual salary for a Python developer in the United States in 2021, and the additional cash bonus the position draws brings that up to $116,.

Some people enroll in intensive boot camps or self-paced online courses to learn the requisite skills. One other option is to begin with books that give you access to online materials that allow you to learn and practice with many examples.

Python Basics and Key Features

Their 2020 article, How Python Became the Popular Choice, Welcome to the Jungle identifies three qualities that contribute to the enduring popularity of the language:

Readability

 Python’s simple syntax and grammar, which is close to natural language, increased programmers’ productivity and brought the fun back into programming.

Extensibility

 Python is designed to have a small core language with a large standard library and an easily extensible interpreter. This allows programmers to add programmable interfaces to existing applications.

Maintainability

 Python’s approach of “there should be one  —  and preferably only one — obvious way to do it” allows coding standards, styles, and recommendations to be enforced. At the same time, it increases the readability and maintainability of projects.

Python’s simple syntax makes it relatively easy to learn and execute. English speakers appreciate its similarity to their native language, which makes it more intuitive for them. It also enables programs to be written with fewer lines of code than some other programming languages.

Read: What Programming Language Is Best to Learn Now?

Python’s Most Noteworthy Features

The versatility and adaptability of the Python programming language has many benefits.

Python plays anywhere

Whether you’re using a Windows, Linux, Unix, or Mac machine, you can run Python on it. Some even use it on Android and iOS.It can even provide a programmable interface when it is embedded into an application.

Python plays well with others

Python is easily extended by adding new modules in other compiled languages.

Python will handle a mix without getting you mixed up

Python can handle various types of data, including numbers, strings, lists and dictionaries. Users don’t have to worry about mixing incompatible types of data because doing so will alert one to the exception.

Python eliminates manual memory processes

Python's automatic memory management eliminates the need to allocate memory in the code manually.

Python helps steer you clear of errors

Short snippets of code can be tested in its interactive mode, which helps avert coding errors.

Python has features galore

Python offers advanced programming features that include generators and list comprehensions.

So much more

The large number of libraries and packages on offer, including those of AI and big data, offers another major benefit for Python users.

All this for free!

Python is not only free to use and to download but also to modify and redistribute, thanks to open-source license.

Getting Started with Python

The first step to getting started with Python is installing it. You do that by going to python.org/downloads/ and choosing the Python version you want to work with or that is recommended by the book or course you choose.

Downloading Python Programming Language

When starting with Python, most experts recommend starting with math strings, conditionals and loops. That allows you to use Python as a calculator with exercises like the following:

Math strings, conditionals and loops in Python

Python File Handling: Getting in the Mode

No library imports are required for using the built-in modes, including reading, writing and appending in Python. The modes are represented by letters as follows:

  • ‘r,’ - Read mode, the default to be assumed if no letter is put in for the mode.

  • ‘w’ – Write mode which is used to edit and write new information to the file (any existing files with the same name will be erased when this mode is activated.

  • ‘a’ – Appending mode, which is used to add new data to the end of the file; that is new information is automatically amended to the end.

  • ‘r+' – Read or Write Mode: This mode is used when we want to write or read the data from the same file.

  • ‘a+' – Append or Read Mode: This mode is used when we want to read data from the file or append the data into the same file.

The letters listed above signify the mode for text files. For binary files, the same designations are used with a ‘b” at the end, so they are: wb, rb, ab, rb+, and ab+.

Opening Files: A Basic Illustration

You begin by using Python’s open function to get a file object. File objects collect information about the file you opened and can be used to manipulate it.

The mode attribute of a file object indicates which mode a file was opened in, and the name attribute indicates the name of the opened file.

Text files are structured as a sequence of lines, where each line includes a sequence of characters. Each line ends with an EOL or End of Line character. The most common of these is the comma [,] or newline character, which lets the interpreter know about the shift from the end of one line line to the beginning of another.

When a backslash [/]character is used, it tells the interpreter that the character that follows it should be treated as a new line.

The two most common functions are read and write, so we will illustrate creating a text file with the write function. The classic example of a text file is the “Hello World,” message.

To do that in Python, you only need the following two steps:

  1. Create the file in Python, which is typically named “testfile.txt,” though you can name it something else, so long as you adjust the steps accordingly..

  2. To manipulate the file, copy this:

file = open(“testfile.txt”,”w”)

file.write(“Hello World”)

file.write(“This is our new text file”)

file.close()

Deleting is even easier. In fact, some may consider it too easy and warn users to put in safeguard that will prevent zapping out things you may regret losing.

To remove a file simply call os.remove() with the appropriate filename and path.

Learn About the Python Library modules

As the Python site observes, “Python’s standard library is very extensive.” The proof of that is the extended table of contents it includes below the description.

“The library contains built-in modules (written in C) that provide access to system functionality such as file I/O that would otherwise be inaccessible to Python programmers, as well as modules written in Python that provide standardized solutions for many problems that occur in everyday programming.”

Windows users can get the whole standard library when they install Python. For those using Unix or the like, it may be necessary to download specific packages individually. To check over what is available from the constantly expanding options that already are numbered in the thousands, you can check the Python Package Index.

Some of the most commonly used packages associated with Python are: TensorFlow, Numpy, SciPy, Pandas and wxPythoni.

TensorFlow is used in almost every Google application for machine learning. It works like a computational library for writing new algorithms that involve a large number of tensor operations. Python Machine Learning - Third Edition cover TensorFlow among other essentials fo rmachine learning.

NumPy is used to express images, sound waves, and other binary raw streams as an array of real numbers in N-dimensional. SciPy is a library that uses NumPy for the purpose of solving mathematical functions, which are often used in scientific programming.

Pandas is the name of a machine learning library that provides data structures of high-level and a wide variety of tools for analysis. One of the great features of this library is the ability to translate complex operations with data using small numbers of commands.

WxPython is used to make Python compatible with a GUI to enhance user performance with the program.

Python Database Handling: Access MySQL and MongoDB databases

One of the common uses for Python is working with databases. There are many database programs to choose from. Two of the more popular choices are MySQL and MongoDB.

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system that uses SQL (Structured Query Language).

It is available for free download here.

Learning how to set up database functions is not a simple process that can be encapsulated in only one fraction of an overview tutorial. It requires a full book-length guide. A useful online guide for Python developers can be found here

MongoDB is described as “ a general purpose, document-based, distributed database built for modern application developers and for the cloud era.” It also boasts of enabling the greatest productivity. You can set up an account to download MongoDB in the cloud at no cost here.

Python needs a MongoDB driver to access the MongoDB database, so you would also have to download something from docs.mongodb.com/drivers/python. As it tells you:

PyMongo is the recommended way to work with MongoDB from Python.

Motor (Async Driver) is the recommended MongoDB Python async driver.

Written by Ariella Brown

Profile Picture of Ariella Brown

Ariella Brown has written about technology and marketing, covering everything from analytics to virtual reality since 2010. Before that she earned a PhD in English, taught college level writing and launched and published a magazine in both print and digital format.

Now she is a full-time writer, editor, and marketing consultant.

Links to her blogs, favorite quotes, and photos can be found here at Write Way Pro. Her portfolio is at https://ariellabrown.contently.com

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