Python is a remarkably powerful dynamic programming language that is used in a wide variety of application domains. Python is often compared to Tcl, Perl, Ruby, Scheme or Java.
Some of its key distinguishing features include:
- very clear, readable syntax
- strong introspection capabilities
- intuitive object orientation
- natural expression of procedural code
- full modularity, supporting hierarchical packages
- exception-based error handling
- very high level dynamic data types
- extensive standard libraries and third party modules for virtually every task
- extensions and modules easily written in C, C++ (or Java for Jython, or .NET languages for IronPython)
- embeddable within applications as a scripting interface
Python is powerful... and fast
Fans of Python use the phrase "batteries included" to describe the standard library, which covers everything from asynchronous processing to zip files. The language itself is a flexible powerhouse that can handle practically any problem domain. Build your own web server in three lines of code. Build flexible data-driven code using Python's powerful and dynamic introspection capabilities and advanced language features such as meta-classes, duck typing and decorators.
Python lets you write the code you need, quickly. And, thanks to a highly optimized byte compiler and support libraries, Python code runs more than fast enough for most applications. The traditional implementation of CPython uses a bytecode virtual machine; PyPy supports just-in-time (JIT) compilation to machine code. Also, Jython and IronPython (see below) support JIT compilation on their respective virtual machine implementations.
Python plays well with others
Python can integrate with COM, .NET, and CORBA objects.
For Java libraries, use Jython, an implementation of Python for the Java Virtual Machine.
For .NET, try IronPython , Microsoft's new implementation of Python for .NET, or Python for .NET.
Python is also supported for the Internet Communications Engine (ICE) and many other integration technologies.
If you find something that Python cannot do, or if you need the performance advantage of low-level code, you can write extension modules in C or C++, or wrap existing code with SWIG or Boost.Python. Wrapped modules appear to your program exactly like native Python code. That's language integration made easy. You can also go the opposite route and embed Python in your own application, providing your users with a language they'll enjoy using.
Python runs everywhere
Python is available for all major operating systems: Windows, Linux/Unix, OS/2, Mac, Amiga, among others. There are even versions that run on .NET and the Java virtual machine. You'll be pleased to know that the same source code will run unchanged across all implementations.
Your favorite system isn't listed here? It may still support Python if there's a C compiler for it. Ask around on news:comp.lang.python - or just try compiling Python yourself.
Python is friendly... and easy to learn
The Python newsgroup is known as one of the friendliest around. The avid developer and user community maintains a wiki, hosts international and local conferences, runs development sprints, and contributes to online code repositories.
Python also comes with complete documentation, both integrated into the language and as separate web pages. Online tutorials target both the seasoned programmer and the newcomer. All are designed to make you productive quickly. The availability of first-rate books completes the learning package.
Python is Open
The Python implementation is under an open source license that makes it freely usable and distributable, even for commercial use. The Python license is administered by the Python Software Foundation.
Take a look at application domains where Python is used, or try the current download for yourself.
- PEP 380, syntax for delegating to a subgenerator (yield from)
- PEP 393, flexible string representation (doing away with the distinction between "wide" and "narrow" Unicode builds)
- A C implementation of the "decimal" module, with up to 120x speedup for decimal-heavy applications
- The import system (import) is based on importlib by default
- The new "lzma" module with LZMA/XZ support
- PEP 397, a Python launcher for Windows
- PEP 405, virtual environment support in core
- PEP 420, namespace package support
- PEP 3151, reworking the OS and IO exception hierarchy
- PEP 3155, qualified name for classes and functions
- PEP 409, suppressing exception context
- PEP 414, explicit Unicode literals to help with porting
- PEP 418, extended platform-independent clocks in the "time" module
- PEP 412, a new key-sharing dictionary implementation that significantly saves memory for object-oriented code
- PEP 362, the function-signature object
- The new "faulthandler" module that helps diagnosing crashes
- The new "unittest.mock" module
- The new "ipaddress" module
- The "sys.implementation" attribute
- A policy framework for the email package, with a provisional (see PEP 411) policy that adds much improved unicode support for email header parsing
- A "collections.ChainMap" class for linking mappings to a single unit
- Wrappers for many more POSIX functions in the "os" and "signal" modules, as well as other useful functions such as "sendfile()"
- Hash randomization, introduced in earlier bugfix releases, is now switched on by default
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