Introduction to Python 3

Python is an easy to learn, powerful programming language. It has efficient high-level data structures and a simple but effective approach to object-oriented programming. Python’s elegant syntax and dynamic typing, together with its interpreted nature, make it an ideal language for scripting and rapid application development in many areas on most platforms.

The Python interpreter and the extensive standard library are freely available in source or binary form for all major platforms from the Python Web site, https://www.python.org/, and may be freely distributed. The same site also contains distributions of and pointers to many free third party Python modules, programs and tools, and additional documentation.

Story behind the name

Guido van Rossum, the creator of the Python language, named the language after the BBC show "Monty Python's Flying Circus". He doesn't particularly like snakes that kill animals for food by winding their long bodies around them and crushing them.

Features of Python

Simple

Python is a simple and minimalistic language. Reading a good Python program feels almost like reading English, although very strict English! This pseudo-code nature of Python is one of its greatest strengths. It allows you to concentrate on the solution to the problem rather than the language itself.

Easy to Learn

As you will see, Python is extremely easy to get started with. Python has an extraordinarily simple syntax, as already mentioned.

Free and Open Source

Python is an example of a FLOSS (Free/Libré and Open Source Software). In simple terms, you can freely distribute copies of this software, read its source code, make changes to it, and use pieces of it in new free programs. FLOSS is based on the concept of a community which shares knowledge. This is one of the reasons why Python is so good - it has been created and is constantly improved by a community who just want to see a better Python.

High-level Language

When you write programs in Python, you never need to bother about the low-level details such as managing the memory used by your program, etc.Portable Due to its open-source nature, Python has been ported to (i.e. changed to make it work on) many platforms. All your Python programs can work on any of these platforms without requiring any changes at all if you are careful enough to avoid any system-dependent features.You can use Python on GNU/Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, Macintosh, Solaris, OS/2, Amiga, AROS, AS/400, BeOS, OS/390, z/OS, Palm OS, QNX, VMS, Psion, Acorn RISC OS, VxWorks, PlayStation, Sharp Zaurus, Windows CE and PocketPC! You can even use a platform like Kivy to create games for your computer and for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Interpreted

A program written in a compiled language like C or C++ is converted from the source language i.e. C or C++ into a language that is spoken by your computer (binary code i.e. 0s and 1s) using a compiler with various flags and options. When you run the program, the linker/loader software copies the program from hard disk to memory and starts running it.

Python, on the other hand, does not need compilation to binary. You just run the program directly from the source code. Internally, Python converts the source code into an intermediate form called bytecodes and then translates this into the native language of your computer and then runs it. All this, actually, makes using Python much easier since you don't have to worry about compiling the program, making sure that the proper libraries are linked and loaded, etc. This also makes your Python programs much more portable, since you can just copy your Python program onto another computer and it just works!

Object Oriented

Python supports procedure-oriented programming as well as object-oriented programming. In procedure-oriented languages, the program is built around procedures or functions which are nothing but reusable pieces of programs. In object-oriented languages, the program is built around objects which combine data and functionality. Python has a very powerful but simplistic way of doing OOP, especially when compared to big languages like C++ or Java.

Extensible

If you need a critical piece of code to run very fast or want to have some piece of algorithm not to be open, you can code that part of your program in C or C++ and then use it from your Python program.

Embeddable

You can embed Python within your C/C++ programs to give scripting capabilities for your program's users.

Extensive Libraries

The Python Standard Library is huge indeed. It can help you do various things involving regular expressions,documentation generation, unit testing, threading, databases, web browsers, CGI, FTP, email, XML, XML-RPC, HTML, WAV files, cryptography, GUI (graphical user interfaces), and other system-dependent stuff. Remember, all this is always available wherever Python is installed. This is called the Batteries Included philosophy of Python.

Summary

Python is indeed an exciting and powerful language. It has the right combination of performance and features that make writing programs in Python both fun and easy.

Installation

When we refer to "Python 3" in this book, we will be referring to any version of Python equal to or greater than version Python 3.6.0.

Installation on Windows

Visit https://www.python.org/downloads/ and download the latest version. At the time of this writing, it was Python 3.5.1 The installation is just like any other Windows-based software.

CAUTION: Make sure you check option Add Python 3.5 to PATH .

To change install location, click on Customize installation , then Next   and enter C:\python35    (or another appropriate location) as the install location.

If you didn t check the  Add Python 3.5 PATH option earlier, check Add Python to environment variables .This does the same thing as Add Python 3.5 to PATH    on the first install screen.

DOS Prompt

If you want to be able to use Python from the Windows command line i.e. the DOS prompt, then you need to set the PATH variable appropriately.

Running Python prompt on Windows

To open the terminal in Windows, click the start button and click Run.In the dialog box,type cmd and press [enter]key.Then,type python and ensure there are no errors.