What is Python?

Codecademy Team
What is Python, and what can it do?


Python is a powerful, general-purpose programming language with a wide range of applications. It was mainly used for scripting after its release in 1994, but updates and new technologies in recent years have expanded its utility. Today, Python stands tall as many developers’ favorite programming language.

Python currently has two active versions: Python 2 and Python 3.

  • Python 2 was released in 2000, and its latest release, 2.7, came out in 2010.
  • Python 3 was first released in 2008. The current version is 3.9, and each new version is released around 17 months apart.

Many Python applications and libraries still use Python 2, but Python 3 is recommended for future software. Below, we’ll take a closer look at Python’s functionality and the different careers that use it.

What is Python used for?

Python is a general-purpose language, meaning you can use it for just about anything. As we said earlier, it’s commonly used for scripting — or writing instructions for a computer to perform a specific task. You’ll find Python in core Linux utilities and in the deployment scripts used by DevOps engineers because of this. Most Linux installations even include a Python language interpreter.

Many web developers also swear by Python web frameworks like Django, Flask, and Bottle. Using these frameworks, they can build websites and applications quickly and easily.

Python is one of the top languages for data analysts and data scientists. Its simple syntax makes it popular for data wrangling, and it also has a multitude of libraries that enable data visualization, data analysis, and machine learning.

Is Python easy for beginners?

Python’s unique syntax was designed to be straightforward and easy to read, making it a great first language for beginners. That being said, it’s a robust language that many developers choose as their primary language to use for their entire career.

Python’s simplicity allows developers to spend less time figuring out syntax and more time problem-solving. Whether you continue using Python or not, learning it will help you pick up the basics of programming quickly.

As we said earlier, Python’s popularity stems (in part) from the wide range of libraries and frameworks that extend its capabilities. Frameworks and libraries contain prewritten code classes and functions that you can add to your own projects. They can make the development process quicker by saving time you’d otherwise spend writing code. Plus, everything’s a bit cleaner because the frameworks and libraries add structure to your codebase.

Here are some popular Python libraries and frameworks:

  • Flask: Flask is a Python web development framework that simplifies building web applications. It comes with classes on routing, requests, responses, and more. Flask extensions will add even more functionality, allowing you to custom-build your application with only the functionality you need.
  • TensorFlow: Google developed this Python library for numerical computation. It makes building machine learning applications fast and easy.
  • Beautiful Soup: Beautiful Soup is a library (with an appetizing name) that is a popular tool for extracting data from HTML, XML, and other markup languages. Using Beautiful Soup, you can build your web scraping tools and search engines.

Jobs that use Python

Because Python is a popular, easy-to-learn language that can be used just about anywhere, many career paths are available to a Python developer. Instagram, Netflix, Google, Reddit, and many other tech companies, both big and small, have Python in their software stacks.

Knowing the basics of Python can help you get a job as an entry-level software developer or junior Python developer. It can also lead to a career in DevOps or Linux development.

Python is also popular with quality assurance engineers. While a lot of application testing is done manually, tools in Python can help you automate tests and take QA to the next level.

As you learned in the section above, frameworks and libraries like Flask and Django make Python a great choice for web developers. It’s also extremely well-suited for data science. Many data science professionals, including data scientists, data analysts, and machine learning engineers, use Python to collect and manipulate data. If you think data science is a good fit for you, learn more about it in our data science career guide.

Learn more about Python

If Python interests you, you can take that curiosity in many directions. The sky’s the limit because you can find Python code just about anywhere. To start, you can get a grounding in the fundamentals of the Python language by taking our Learn Python 3 course. Once you know the basics of Python, you can focus on some specialties.

If you’re already familiar with Python and want to learn how to use it to build web apps, check out our web development courses like Build Python Web Apps With Flask. Flask will make it easy to create a full-featured web application quickly and easily.

More interested in data science? No problem. We’ll show you how to analyze data for insights that’ll help your business in our data science courses like Analyze Data with Python and Analyze Financial Data with Python.

Lastly, to take your Python web application and machine learning skills even further, try building a chatbot with Python. This course will teach you how to create interactive chatbots that teach themselves how to carry on conversations with people using artificial intelligence.

Happy coding!