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Safari | Python Developer's Handbook -> Why Use Python?





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Why Use Python?

Let's take a look at an interesting scenario:

Imagine that you don't have a team of programmers who are professionally trained. In addition to that, you are in a position to choose a programming language that would be the best solution for projects that require GUI implementations and the use of complex routines along with OOP technology. Unfortunately, and by chance, you don't have much money to spend in a big investment, well If I were you, I would pick up Python as my choice.

But if you are simply a programmer who, for this moment, only wants to know what the significant advantages are that Python has to offer you, maybe you are asking yourself why you need this language if you already know many others.

The answer is quite simple. Although the original plan is not to turn Python into an all-purpose language, you can easily do almost anything if you know how. The next couple of paragraphs list and explain why Python is a cool programming language and what things make Python more flexible than other languages.

Readability

Python's syntax is clear and readable. The way Python's syntax is organized imposes some order to programmers. Experts and beginners can easily understand the code and everyone can become productive in Python very quickly. It is also important to mention that Python has fewer "dialects" than other languages, such as Perl. And because the block structures in Python are defined by indentations, you are much less likely to have bugs in your code caused by incorrect indentation.

It Is Simple to Get Support

The Python community always provides support to Python users. As we already know, Python code is freely available for everyone. Therefore, thousands of developers worldwide are working hard to find bugs and create patches to fix those bugs. Furthermore, many people are creating new enhancements to the language and sending them for approval.

Fast to Learn

The language is very easy to learn because its source code resembles pseudo code. It doesn't ask for long and strange lines of code. Therefore, less training is a direct result. Companies don't need to spend much time to have their programmers coding in Python. Once you start learning Python, you can do useful coding almost immediately. And after some practice, your productivity will suddenly increase.

You can design a high-level, object-oriented programming code in a friendly and interpreted Python environment. This feature works great for small tasks.

Fast to Code

Python provides fast feedback in several ways. First, the programmer can skip many tasks that other languages require him to take. Therefore, it reduces both the cost of program maintenance and the development time. If necessary, Python enables a fast adaptation of the code. You can change the high-level layer of your application without changing the business rules that are coded within your modules.

The interactive interpreter that comes with the Python distribution brings rapid development strategies to your project. In spite of traditional programming languages that require several distinct phases (such as compiling, testing, and running) and other scripting languages that require you to edit the code outside the execution environment, Python is a ready-to-run language. Every time you use Python's interactive interpreter, you just need to execute the code you have. A direct benefit of this feature over Perl is the way you can interactively test and play around with your code.

Python provides a bottom-up development style in which you can build your applications by importing and testing critical functions in the interpreter before you write the top-level code that calls the functions.

The interpreter is easily extensible. It enables you to embed your favorite C code as a compiled extension module.

Reusability

Python encourages program reusability by implementing modules and packages. A large set of modules has already been developed and is provided as The Standard Python Library, which is part of the Python distribution.

You can easily share functionality between your programs by breaking the programs into modules, and reusing the modules as components of other programs.

Portability

Besides running on multiple systems, Python has the same interface on multiple platforms. Its design isn't attached to a specific operational system because it is written in portable ANSI C. This means that you can write a Python program on a Mac, test it using a Linux environment, and upload it to a Windows NT server. Everything mentioned here is possible because Python supports most of its features everywhere. However, you must know that some modules were developed to implement specific mechanisms of some operational systems and, of course, programs that use those modules don't work in all environments.

But, wait a minute. This problem affects only some specific modules. Usually, you can make most of your applications run on multiple platforms without changing one line of code. How many other languages can claim this type of behavior?

Python is well integrated with both UNIX and Windows platforms. The Macintosh environment also supports Python applications, even though it doesn't provide a full set of solutions yet. But don't worry. Developers are currently working on that.

Object-Oriented Programming

Usually, scripting languages have object-orientation support included in the language as an add-on. However, everything in Python, as in Smalltalk, is designed to be object-oriented. You can start programming using non-OO structures, but it doesn't take too long for you to find out that it is much simpler if you use its OO features. Some of the implemented OO functionality in Python is inheritance and polymorphism.

Overall Conclusion

The overall conclusion is that Python is a fantastic language that provides all these features for free. I assure you that if you want all these features in any other language, you will have to buy costly third-part libraries. Every detail in Python's project is part of a huge plan to have the most used and necessary features of other languages in a unique environment.

If someone asks which are the cases that Python doesn't provide the best solution, I would have just one answer: applications that require huge amounts of low-level data processing. That is said because, as you already know, Python is an interpreted language; and for that reason, it is proven to be a little bit slower than compiled languages. However, even in cases such as this, Python makes it easy to replace bottlenecks with C implementations, which speeds things up without sacrificing Python's features.

If you have already decided that Python is exactly what you need, be sure to go through all the following chapters. It will be fun.


Last updated on 1/30/2002
Python Developer's Handbook, © 2002 Sams Publishing

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