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Introduction to Python – Python, Pythonic, History, Documentation
Python is a high-level general-purpose programming language that is used in a wide variety of application domains. Python has the right combination of performance and features that demystify program writing. Some of the features of Python are listed below:
- It is simple and easy to learn.
- Python implementation is under an open-source license that makes it freely usable and distributable, even for commercial use.
- It works on many platforms such as Windows, Linux, etc.
- It is an interpreted language.
- It is an object-oriented language.
- Embeddable within applications as a scripting interface.
- Python has a comprehensive set of packages to accomplish various tasks.
Python is an interpreted language, as opposed to a compiled one, though the distinction is blurry because of the presence of the bytecode compiler (beyond the scope of this book). Python source code is compiled into bytecode so that executing the same file is faster the second time (recompilation from source to bytecode can be avoided). Interpreted languages typically have a shorter development/debug cycle than compiled ones, and also their programs generally also run slowly. Please note that Python uses a 7-bit ASCII character set for program text.
The latest stable releases can always be found on Python’s website (http://www.python.org/). There are two recommended production-ready Python versions at this point in time because at the moment there are two branches of stable releases: 2.x and 3.x. Python 3.x may be less useful than 2.x since currently there is more third-party software available for Python 2 than for Python 3. Python 2 code will generally not run unchanged in Python 3. This book focuses on Python version 2.7.6.
Python follows a modular programming approach, which is a software design technique that emphasizes separating the functionality of a program into independent, interchangeable modules, such that each contains everything necessary to execute only one aspect of the desired functionality. Conceptually, modules represent a separation of concerns and improve maintainability by enforcing logical boundaries between components.
More information on the module is provided in chapter 5. Python versions are numbered in the format A.B.C or A.B, where A is the major version number, and it is only incremented for major changes in the language; B is the minor version number, and incremented for relatively lesser changes; C is the micro-level, and it is incremented for bug-fixed release.
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“Pythonic” is a bit different idea/approach of the writing program, which is usually not followed in other programming languages. For example, to loop all elements of an iterable using for statement, usually, the following approach is followed:
food= [ 'pizza', 'burger',1 noodles'] for i in range(len(food)): print(food[i]) A cleaner Pythonic approach is: food=['pizza','burger','noodles'] for piece in food: print(piece)
Python was created in the early 1990s by Guido van Rossum at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI, refer http://www.cwi.nl/) in the Netherlands as a successor of a language called “ABC”. Guido remains Python’s principal author, although it includes many contributions from others. When he began implementing Python, Guido van Rossum was also reading the published scripts from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”,.a BBC comedy series from the 1970s. Van Rossum thought he needed a name that was short, unique, and slightly mysterious, so he decided to call the language “Python”. In 1995, Guido continued his work on Python at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI, visit http://www.cnri.reston.va.us/) in Reston, Virginia, where he released several versions of the software.
In May 2000, Guido and the Python core development team moved to “BeOpen.com” to form the BeOpen PythonLabs team. In October of the same year, the PythonLabs team moved to Digital Creations (now Zope Corporation, visit http://www.zope.com/). In 2001, the Python Software Foundation (PSF, refer http://www.python.org/psf/) was formed, a non-profit organization created specifically to own Python-related intellectual property. Zope Corporation is a sponsoring member of the PSF.
Official Python 2.7.6 documentation can be accessed from the website link: http://docs.python.Org/2/. To download an archive containing all the documents for version 2.7.6 of Python in one of the various formats (plain text, PDF, HTML), follow the link: http://docs.python.Org/2/download.html.