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Why you need to learn Python now

You might have heard of Python and know that it’s the most popular programming language today. Everyone’s using it, from web developers to data scientists, and increasingly, even ordinary folk. We’re talking individuals, small businesses, even school kids who are learning it.

Could Python also be useful to you? 

If you’re interested in automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, making data-based decisions to get an edge over your competitors, or simply learning a highly lucrative skill (a Python developer can earn a six-figure salary) — then yes because all these things are possible with Python.

The merits of learning to code

Everyone can find uses in their day-to-day lives for coding languages?

For a taste of the sweet coding-enlightened life, check out the video “You should learn to program,” a TedxUTA talk featuring self-declared Internet micropreneur Christian Genko. It’s sure to pique your interests in coding, especially if, like him, “you want to maximize your laziness.” 

Genco makes an excellent case for coding, no matter which language you choose. 

Up until now, it might not have dawned on you to learn to code, much less choose a language to study. Maybe you didn’t feel coding was accessible to you, or you didn’t recognize how it could be useful. 

Let’s look at how the programming language Python can address both of those issues, making programming both accessible and useful. 

If you run a small business or freelance, it’s likely that you are dealing in data and code in some form or another, whether that’s building websites or tracking customer details – and those are two places where even knowledge of the fundamentals of coding can help.. Learning to code could also help boost your productivity– for example, automating a time-consuming process (such as pulling data off a website to add to a spreadsheet) using a bit of code might save you a lot of time from doing the process manually. 

Learning to code can also be a lucrative career choice. According to Indeed, the average Python developer salary in the U.S. in 2021 is $110,840. That’s a pretty good return on the time invested in learning to code.

Now you’re convinced you should learn to code, let’s talk about Python.

computer controlling a laser

What is Python — an overview

Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum created the programming language Python in 1991 and named it after his favorite comedy, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. 

Van Rossum decided on an open-source model. This means that anyone can freely add to the code as they wish. This helps develop the program among peers and expands the Python dictionary. 

So far, that’s worked out pretty well. Python is one of the hyped languages today, and many people are using it. According to research by Statista, Python has been the most popular programming language for several years. Why, you ask? Well, as far as coding languages go, Python is a jack of all trades or ‘general-purpose’ language.

Python isn’t just for big companies. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why ordinary folk chooses Python above any other programming language. 

It’s beginner-friendly: Python is known as one of the easiest languages to learn and read. Van Rossum wanted Python to be as understandable as plain English. This makes the language intuitive to read. Additionally, Python has a more straightforward syntax that doesn’t require as many lines of code like C or Java to get comparable results.

For example, compare these two bits of code, both of which display “Hello, World!” on the screen. The Python code is shorter and doesn’t require complex syntax.

Python:

print('Hello, world!')

Java:

class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, World!"); 
    }
}
  • There are many Python libraries: Whatever you want it to do, there’s a good chance someone has already written code to do it or help you do it yourself. Python libraries offer many useful bits of code that eliminate the need for writing common functionality from scratch. Just like going to a physical library, you visit code libraries to access a wealth of knowledge. There are over 137,000 Python libraries to work with today. 

Suppose you are developing for specific actions such as web scraping (data extraction from a website). In that case, there’s likely already a related Python library that can perform those actions without you having to write new code. 

To summarize, Python is easy to learn, simple to use, and clear to read, and you can use it for pretty much anything.

data flowing into a laptop

Places you have come across Python

Python’s flexibility and simplicity have inspired all sorts of brands and common services. Both academics prefer it as their favorite language for data-crunching, and large companies like Google, Dropbox, and Instagram all rely heavily on Python. Just take a glance at the following list (which is not exhaustive).

  • Spotify has redefined music streaming with its Discover playlists and smart Radio channels thanks to data insights collated through Python. 
  • Citigroup. Several investment banks train their analysts in Pythonso they make valuable risk assessments from algorithmic trading models.
  • CERN Large Hadron Collider uses Python for data analysis to understand their experiments 
  • Uber uses Python to power rides and also leverages Python-based machine learning and data science frameworks to build algorithms to connect drivers to passengers swiftly. 
  • Netflix uses Python to make sure movies stream without stopping. 
  • Even your Google Home assistant runs on Python through natural language processing technology. 

As you can see Python used for pretty much everything, from media services to finance, data analytics, and more — and pretty much everyone is using it. 

But who cares about these big names? How can Python be beneficial to you

Let’s be real. Most of our blog readers aren’t looking to power the next Hadron Collider. You’ll need some practical examples of how Python can improve your working practices or just your life in general. Let’s go. 

Surprising things you can do with Python

So, we’ve looked at some high-level examples of what people are doing with Python. You can also just have some fun with it. Here are some examples.

According to software developers Rupa Dachere and Akkana

“you can automate your home with Python, hooking up sensors to your house. With it, you can, for example, open and close the curtains or automatically turn on lights when you come in the room.”

Naturally, Reddit has a thread dedicated to Python and a sub “What boring stuff do you automate?” with plenty of cool applications. In the thread, there are some interesting comments. For example, one man simply wants to let his wife know when to expect him home.

“I have a little script that uses the GPS in my phone to calculate the nearest train station on my route home from work and writes a text message to my wife with an estimated time of arrival.”

And then there’s the Python developer who never wanted to miss out on a steaming pot of coffee.

 “Some years ago, we had a Python chatbot in the company that would monitor power If consumption. If it saw a power spike of 8 min or so, it would figure out that coffee has been brewed and consequently alert everyone in the chat room about the freshly available coffee.”

Felix93 at Hackermoon used Python to get more Instagram followers,

 “I automated and grew one of my Instagram accounts from 0 to 83 followers in just two weeks with almost no time spent. With the InstaBot Python library, you can increase your Instagram followers or find some interesting stats about your posts. 

These are just a few examples of the cool things you can do with Python.

Python running a calendar progran on an iPad

How Python can help run your business better

 Besides taking the lazy life and having some fun with coding, people are using Python to elevate their working practices. How can you use Python to make work feel less like work and get an advantage over your competitors? Again, let’s take a look at some real-life examples.

Data Analytics

Thanks to the Internet — and, increasingly, the Internet of Things — we can access unlimited streams of data. How do we make this data useful to us? Analytics.

Analytics helps us understand what’s trending, what our customers are talking about, and if the patterns in their behavior. 

Putting some quality statistics behind your strategic decisions provides a competitive advantage for small businesses. 

You could find what’s trending in your industry or your locale on social media. Any data you come across, you can analyze it for patterns. Twitter is a great place to pull data, there’s a lot of data to mine to garner the sentiment on all manner of topics. To mine Twitter data and analyze your user’s sentiment you’ll have to:

  • Register an application with Twitter to access their streaming API
  • Use something like Tweepy to filter which tweets you want to pull
  • Take a tool like TextBlob to calculate the tweets’ sentiment
  • Run the tweet through Elasticsearch to analyze the contents
  • Finally, tap into Kibana to visualize the results.  

Machine learning

Most people assume that machine learning is some sort of mystic art, well beyond their reach. In reality, anyone can tap into it with Python libraries where the deep code has already been taken care of. Here are some examples.

  • Time series analysis and forecasting – With this approach, companies can forecast data patterns, and many other phenomena to make better business decisions. With these models, you can estimate costs, and predict sales volume and projected profits. The sustainability of business relies on the accuracy of such forecasts.

    For example, retailers can use it to forecast daily sale volumes to make sure they have enough inventory. Financial traders use it to forecast stock prices to make better investment decisions, and agricultural workers use it to forecast the weather to guide their planting and harvesting decisions. There’s a free course to learn the basics of analyzing time series data over at Datacamp. You can use this same analysis method to recognize trends and patterns
  • Identify trends and patterns – If you run a small business, chances are you have a sales book, and hold a record with the details of your customers, sales transactions, volumes, and so on. With a bit of tinkering about with Python, you can generate a record to map out your customers’ buying patterns.
  • Drive efficiencies – With machine learning, small businesses can become more efficient which ultimately saves money and helps them grow. It can also alleviate some work, for example, with machine learning technology, you can recommend additional products to customers browsing your website, based on what’s in their basket, and promote upselling. 
  • Boost your marketing efforts – According to Limor Goldhaber at Towards Data Science, “Trying to build a successful marketing campaign without data is the equivalent of hoping to hit a piñata when you’re blindfolded.”

With Python, you can perform meaningful analysis to identify marketing, uncover growth opportunities, create retention models, and accurately identify user segments.  Follow the link above for a deep dive into how this works.

Basically, any action that’s time-consuming, expensive, or even error-prone could benefit from Python. Similarly, if you make any decisions that require aggregating data, it could do with a helping hand by, you guessed it, Python.

How can you start learning Python?

Starting out with Python, there’s a lot to learn, and a lot of resources available to do so. 

You’re best off understanding how to install Python first, which involves choosing a text editor to write the code, and then you can check out these online learning resources. 

  • Codecademy (free or paid): A good place to learn what programming is about and what it feels like.
  • Apply some of your basic knowledge and concepts with Automate the Boring Stuff from Al Sweigart. This immense blog teaches you how to automate all aspects of your life and work through, effortlessly. 
  • Check out Learn Python the right way’. The idea is to blend ‘learning the basics with building interesting things.’. Here, you get a real taste of how Python works by creating real-world projects based on your interests.

Wrapping up

If you know how to write lines of code, you can reap the benefits, whether that’s automating things at home or helping your business. Python is such a beginner-friendly programming language that just a little will get you far, especially if you tap into the wealth of libraries available. 

We recommend you start small, take a beginner course to learn the basic concepts, and then choose some projects that interest you to solve some of your own problems. 

As we’ve displayed, Python is the key to shaving hours off your monthly admin tasks, and unlocking profitable decision-making, based on data, not gut feeling. Once you have realized these benefits, you’ll feel motivated to keep on learning and enjoying Python.

Are you interested in learning Python? Are you already using Python for your business? Let us know all about it in the comments.

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Isobel Weston

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