Getting Started with Python

by Alex
Getting Started with Python

Python is one of the most popular programming languages today. It provides everything you need for development and doesn’t burden the programmer with complicated constructions, syntax and low-level operations. Python is not a pure object-oriented language, so it allows the programmer to use features of both functional programming and OOP, besides, with its help you can write scripts of any kind and complexity.

Why learn Python

Each programming language is sharpened to perform certain types of tasks. Python is a general purpose programming language meaning you can write almost anything in it. Can doesn’t mean effective and Python will not be a good choice in all areas of programming. It is mainly used in web development, machine learning and data analysis.

Why learn Python

This means that an aspiring Python programmer can choose which specialization he or she likes best. Each field offers high salaries, interesting and unique projects.

Web development

Python is not the most popular language for web development, but it has a large market share and can provide jobs for a large number of web programmers. Web-development in Python is mostly about creating server-side web-sites and applications using Django and Flask frameworks.

Machine Learning

In the field of machine learning, Python is the most popular language. From the name of the sphere it is clear that the main task of programmers, to teach the computer to “understand” the data like a human. A typical example of a project in the field of machine learning is a program that can recognize and analyze objects in photos.

Data Analysis

In this area, Python is also one of the most popular tools. Programmers develop programs that collect and analyze large amounts of data. A simple example of a data analysis project is a program that collects information about the employees of the company, and based on it determines the productivity of their work. Thus, the management of the company can quickly and easily enough to analyze the state of their company and quickly take the necessary steps to improve its performance.

Where to Start Studying

Each person has a different level of knowledge. Someone has already learned something at university, someone came to Python from another programming language, and someone is a complete novice and doesn’t even know what a variable is. In any case, a beginner programmer should learn all the basic constructs of the language. You don’t need to immediately use any framework, read technical books about algorithms, data structures and computer structure. It is better to start with some course, which usually give only the most necessary base and do not load a trainee’s brain with a huge amount of technical terms and information. To begin, you should study the following:

  • Variables, their types and operations on them.
  • Working with numbers, strings and other types.
  • Conditions.
  • Cycles.
  • Data structures (lists, tuples, dictionaries).
  • Standard language tools (input and output, rounding).

At this stage, practice consists of writing small programs of a few dozen lines of code. The next step is to get acquainted with functions that allow you to write more complex programs with a normal structure. The novice programmer must parse:

  • Purpose of functions.
  • Syntax of functions.
  • Arguments.
  • Return of values from a function.
  • Nested functions.
  • Recursion.

Functions allow you to write more complex and voluminous programs (up to several hundred lines of code). However, for further development, the programmer must understand modules and files:

  • Learning what modules and packages are.
  • How to use several modules in one project.
  • Understand the scope of modules.
  • Understand the syntax of working with files (opening, closing, inputting and outputting information).

The last basic stage will be learning object-oriented programming, which includes concepts such as:

  • A class and its instances.
  • Objects.
  • The constructor.
  • Class methods and fields.
  • Encapsulation, inheritance and polymorphism.

Where to get information

Websites

Websites are a good way to get information that is broken down into a large number of short articles. A programmer just needs to find the right article on the right topic, which will briefly and clearly give the theory supported by code examples. The advantage of websites over video is that the speed of obtaining information depends only on the student’s ability to read and absorb information quickly. Compared to books, the information is more self-sufficient, that is, you don’t need to read several other articles to understand the code in the article. A good example of a site for learning is “all-python.ru”. Here you can find all the necessary theory with examples, as well as implementations of simple programs such as a calculator and a calendar.

YouTube Video Lessons

Video tutorials are great for those who are good at listening. They are more visual than books or articles, although they do limit the viewer’s speed of absorption.

Courses

This resource for learning combines video lessons, text information, and practice. Each course has a specific syllabus, so each subsequent lesson is related to the previous one, which helps you better understand and remember the information. Courses are a great way for beginners to learn Python, but they won’t be a self-sufficient source of information, especially if you’re learning in depth.

Technical books

Technical books are the best way to learn theory. The information in them is usually the most reliable and complete, but the abundance of theory and terms makes reading books quite a challenge. In addition, for a complete study, each topic in a book needs to be reinforced with practice, which is usually not enough.

Practice is a major part of learning

The human brain is designed so that the knowledge that is not used, erased from memory. For information to be firmly fixed in the memory, it must be understood, repeated several times and, of course, put into practice. You can read dozens of books on the language, but without practice, all the theory you get will be useless. At the initial stage when a programmer doesn’t study specialized frameworks, but works directly with the programming language, the practice consists of solving simple problems, usually these are mathematical problems or tasks on elaboration of specific language constructions. When a programmer reaches a high level of language proficiency and starts to understand frameworks, he should start to write close to real projects, for example: notepad, a program for working with images, a simple website, etc.

The best practice is to do commercial projects. But at the initial stage, you can write a program that you yourself or your acquaintances will use.

If the project is not just written to learn a programming language and then forgotten, and constantly used, such a project will be a big plus on the job interview. Even if only you use it to solve your own problems.

Let to perfection: the skills a Python developer needs

A programmer needs to memorize a huge amount of information, each area of programming uses unique tools, it is impossible to learn them all. However, there are certain basic knowledge and skills that are relevant not only as time passes, but also for different areas of programming.

Algorithms

It’s hard to believe but programmers spend most of their time not on writing code but on thinking over the program structure and organizing its work. Every programmer must be able to find the necessary algorithms to make an efficient and optimized program. In fact, the vast majority of algorithms and solutions are already invented, so it doesn’t always make sense to come up with something of your own. However, it is important to choose the right one among the many solutions that have been invented. For example, many algorithms for sorting an array have been invented to date, such as bubble sorting, merge sorting, quick sorting, and so on. Each algorithm has its advantages and disadvantages, some are used more often, others are suitable only in special cases. Programmers do not come up with a new sorting algorithm for every new project, but they should choose the one that is most suitable for its effective implementation.

Knowing how to search for information

Python has a large Internet community. When a problem arises, you can be 99% sure that the solution is on the Internet. It may not be perfect, it may have to be modified slightly for the project, but it is there. The Internet makes information available; a programmer can find everything he or she needs, but the availability of information creates the problem of its redundancy. A query on a search engine will not lead immediately to the right solution, most of the information will be useless. This is why every Python developer must be able to find the right information in the vast amount of information.

Understanding OC Operations

Every project is somehow related to the operating system, because the operating system is the architectural layer of the computer which connects the hardware with the software. A Python programmer needs to understand processes, threads, and memory.

Understanding OOP

Object-oriented programming is a paradigm without which large projects cannot be supported. OOP is used everywhere from developing games to writing websites. A Python developer must understand the basic principles of OOP and be able to work with the syntax of classes and everything related to them. In addition, he must have the skills to build an effective application structure.

Working with the command line

The graphical interface of the operating system can’t give the programmer all the tools he needs, which limits his abilities. The ability to work with the command line or the terminal will be a useful skill, which is often tested during job interviews.

Understanding how the Internet works

This is especially important for web-developers in Python, but nowadays not only web-sites are connected with the Internet, but also applications. Therefore, the programmer must understand the basic principles of the global network so that he or she can interact with the code written by the programming team involved in the development of the backend component of the application.

Version control systems (git)

Any project must be linked to a version control system. This will allow you to save the states of the project and, if necessary, roll back the project to an earlier version, for example, if there is a bug that cannot be tracked.

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