Python. If you’ve heard that name spoken in hushed tones in programming circles, it’s because it’s one of the most popular and efficient coding languages. Python is everywhere, and for good reason—it makes things like scripting and automation simple, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
If you’re a beginning programmer or coder, the good news is there are some great free resources to help you learn how to code in Python, and it’s a fairly easy language to pick up. Here are a few things you should know about it first.
When we talk about Python, we’re not talking about the scaly, bus-length reptile you view from a safe distance at the zoo—obviously. However, when it comes to coding languages, you could call Python a different kind of animal.
Python is a versatile, high-level programming language that’s used for web development (server side), software development, mathematics, and data science. One of the biggest draws of Python is that it allows developers to work more quickly, because it requires fewer lines than other programming languages.
Python runs on every major operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, Raspberry Pi, etc.) and platform and most minor ones, and it’s considered a “glue” language, because it allows developers to integrate different applications and database systems and have them talk to each other. Not only is Python general-purpose, but it can interface freely with many major libraries and API-powered services.
Python’s most basic uses are for scripting and automation—people like to call Python the language that takes care of the boring stuff—but where it’s particularly helpful is in data science. Python handles big data and performs complex mathematics, eliminating the painstaking work it would require for a human to do it, and it’s often used for scientific research. It’s also great for back-end web development, because it comes with pre-built libraries and frameworks like Pyramid, Flask, and Django. These help shorten the time developers spend on projects.
Python is a popular language in FinTech, for startups, for machine learning—it’s considered the most popular command interface for machine learning libraries—and it powers websites for companies like PBS, Nasa, and Reddit.
Python’s syntax is designed to be concise and easy to read. One thing that sets it apart is it encourages programmers to program without boilerplate code (this is code that’s repeated multiple times with very little variation). Python also allows you to use English keywords instead of punctuation marks, so your code looks cleaner. One of the simplest commands in Python is the ‘print’ directive, which, as its name suggests, simply displays a specified message on the page.
Have we overwhelmed you yet? Hopefully not. This is the part where you can learn how to become a Python pro at no upfront cost.
You don’t have to take an intensive, four-year college course to learn Python. You can learn it in your PJs and from your bedroom, if you really want to. That’s because there are hundreds of free classes, tutorials, and challenges online that give you instant feedback and can help you become well-versed in this highly-accessible coding language. The best way to learn Python, of course, is to practice.
Many PCs and Macs come with Python already installed, but you can also run Python for free from your browser. Go to the Python website, and you’ll find a Beginner’s Guide that offers dozens of links to Python resources, interactive tools and lessons, video tutorials, and free courses. There are also different Python “cheat sheets” you can access to play with on your own.
Aside from Python’s site itself, there are other great bootcamps and courses you can take to learn the language. Codeacademy is a great place to start. They offer a 30-hour, interactive Python beginner course on the latest version of Python (Python 3) that you can test out free for seven days, as well as a variety of courses on different Python applications.
To give you a sense of the breadth of what you can learn with this language, here are just a few of the Codeacademy Python courses you can take right now:
Udemy is another great place to find free Python courses. Udemy offers lots of video resources—over 130,000, in fact. It’s less interactive than courses like Codeacademy’s, but it will give you tips from the experts.
CheckiO is a different kind of resource. It gamifies Python learning by giving you fun programming tasks to solve as you make your way from destination to destination.
That’s one of the refreshing things about learning Python—there are literally hundreds of options for different learners, so you can find something out there that will make learning easy and enjoyable. The most important thing to note is that you can learn it without spending a lot of resources learning it.
Let’s say that learning Python isn’t enough for you. You’re in it for the major leagues: a career in back-end web development or data science, for example. Free online tutorials can help you learn and practice Python, but they can only get you so far, and truth be told, you’ll often sacrifice either depth or breadth if you rely solely on free tutorials to teach you everything you need to know. Happily, there are other options.
You can get an immersive and extensive coding education on Python and every other language, framework, and program you’ll need to become a data scientist or developer right here at Lambda. Lambda School is an online coding school with full-time and part-time options that trains you for a career in tech at no upfront cost.
Both courses give you the opportunity to learn from industry experts and get experience building your own real-life projects with a team of students just like you. Both courses also come with built-in career development. That means you have the opportunity to work with job trainers and career coaches so that, when the time comes, you’re prepared to get your dream job in the field.
Lambda School offers flexible tuition options, like a pay-later model that allows you to get your schooling done and only pay tuition when you’re in a qualifying position.
Apply to Lambda now to start learning Python and preparing for an exciting career!