What is Python?

What is Python?

Learn about Python, the programming language built for nearly every purpose.

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Python is a general-purpose programming language which can be used for a wide variety of applications. A great language for beginners because of its readability and other structural elements designed to make it easy to understand, Python is not limited to basic usage. In fact, it powers some of the world's most complex applications and website.

Python is an interpreted language, meaning that programs written in Python don't need to be compiled in advance in order to run, making it easy to test small snippets of code and making code written in Python easier to move between platforms. Since Python is most operating systems in common use, Python is a universal language found in a variety of different applications.

First developed in the late 80s by Guido van Rossum, Python is currently in its third version, released in 2008, although the second version originally released in 2000 is still in common usage.

Why use Python?

There are several reasons why Python could be a good choice for your next programming project, whether it's your first attempt at coding or if you're a seasoned developer looking for a new frontier.

Perhaps most importantly, Python has an enormous user community. This means that no matter what problem you're trying to solve, chances are there is already strong documentation, tutorials, guides, and examples to help you along your way. There are numerous integrated development environments and other development tools to choose from, and thousands of open source packages available to extend Python to do just about anything you can think of.

What is Python used for?

Python's ease of use and compatibility across a variety of operating systems makes it an ideal language for a number of uses. Many complex websites either currently or historically have used Python to power their back ends, from YouTube to Instagram to Reddit, and thousands of other well-known examples. But Python isn't only a web language.

Python is the primary language used for the massive cloud computing project OpenStack, powering private and public clouds in data centers all over the world. It's also used to write desktop software, like Calibre, OpenShot, and the original client for BitTorrent. Many application written in other languages, such as Blender, allow for scripting by users in Python. It's also a popular language for machine learning, scientific, statistical, mathematical, and other types of specialized computing.

Even the Raspberry Pi gained its name from the founders plan to use the platform for teaching Python.

So in short, what is Python used for? Nearly everything!

Is Python open source?

The Python language itself is managed by the Python Software Foundation, who offer a reference implementation of Python, called, CPython, under an open source license. You can even download the Python source code, here.

Besides the Python implementation itself being open source, many open source projects make use of Python, and Python has many libraries available for developers under open source licenses.

Where can I learn more?

Be sure to follow our Python tag and be on the lookout for more Python articles on Opensource.com.