Python is one of the most popular coding languages according to litslink.com in 2020. In addition to being in high demand, Python is also incredibly multi-purposeful, cross-platform, and easy to learn. It’s likely to fit your needs whether you wish to design a prototype of an application, build a web service, or perform complex scientific calculations.
The tips below will discuss several stepping stones in learning Python that will help you dive right in and achieve progress faster.
Set up Your Learning Environment
Hands-on learning is the most effective approach you can take when it comes to programming. Simply memorizing the syntax and other pieces of theory won’t do—you have to get a good grasp on how to practically solve problems with Python. Setting up your environment straight away and writing that first line of code is the fastest route to success.
Download and Install Python
You can do it on the official website by choosing the desired version of Python and your operating system. Currently, the latest stable version of Python is 3.8. Note that Python is pre-installed on most Linux distributions and on Mac OS X, although the latter usually features an outdated version of the package.
Pick an Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
Choosing an IDE is a matter of comfort. You can code in Python with only an interpreter and any word-processing software. But a good development environment will definitely help you write, debug, and test your code faster, as well as navigate large projects more efficiently.
- Jupyter Notebook. Project Jupyter is one of the best IDEs for Python. It’s easy to install and use, it runs in your browser, and it offers a handy possibility to add text and formatted commentary along with writing and executing your code. Jupyter Notebook is currently used in education and production alike.
- Spyder. Spyder is a dedicated environment for Python development that features a powerful debugger, an editor, a flexible GUI with IPython consoles, and several other tools to enhance your experience.
- PyCharm. PyCharm is a professional IDE for Python. It’s the bulkiest option on this list, and it also has a paid version. PyCharm comes bundled together with cross-technology development functionality, smart assistance, and web development frameworks, along with numerous scientific and development tools. This IDE is the most useful for large projects.
Practice a Lot
Your learning speed directly depends on how much time you spend coding and how regular these efforts are. Do something every day, even if it’s just adding a few working lines to your program. Coding will gradually start becoming a habit, and it will be ultimately easier to unravel the more complicated stuff once you master the basics.
There are numerous resources to help with practicing. Project Euler, Rosalind, and Codewars, to name a few, are the platforms that feature numerous computational problems, tasks, and games to help you get in the groove.
If you fancy a more practical approach, try sifting through this free Automate the Boring Stuff with Python book. It features small projects that you can do to get familiar with this language and start using it to improve your daily experience with technology. The book suffices both for complete newbies in programming and those switching from a different coding language.
Use Tutorials to Get the Basic Concepts Quickly
Tutorials are a perfect learning tool when you already know what you need to do but lack the syntax to implement it. They are most effective when combined with the platforms discussed above. Tutorials rarely teach you how to approach programming, but they act as a handy and extensive encyclopedia of the required instruments.
Python tutorials on W3Schools present a good starting point for beginners.
Find and Engage with a Community
It’s not about going to a Python-centered forum to ask a question, although that is also helpful sometimes. The community you find doesn’t necessarily have to consist exclusively of coders. A programming language helps you solve real-world problems, so it’s a good idea to engage with people in your area of interest and see how you can apply programming to enrich and deepen discussions there.
Take a Formal Course
If you start with this point, chances are, you will lose all motivation to learn coding within a week. The beginning of this road should always be framed with small immediate successes and a lot of practice to boost gratification and encourage you to keep going.
Once you’re past the basics, however, a more in-depth take on Python coding can greatly expand your abilities and understanding of the language’s applications. Search for an appropriate course on eDX, Coursera, or any other online learning resource. Some courses focus on the general applications of Python, while others explore its capabilities in machine learning, business, and other specific fields. Make sure to pick the one that resonates with your goals and give it a try.
Pace Yourself to Avoid Burning Out
Surrounding yourself completely with the thing you’re trying to learn is an incredible approach. But it can backfire if you keep the pace fast for too long. Don’t forget to give yourself some rest and take breaks when you feel tired or stuck on some issue. Also, don’t take on more concepts than you require for the particular project you’re currently working on, as it will likely result in poorer recollection.
Tinker with Libraries
Almost anything in Python can be done more efficiently with the help of some libraries. Libraries are the backbone of this language’s vast range of applications. It’s a good idea to start getting familiar with the most popular general-purpose libraries and built-in modules, as well as explore functionalities designed specifically for your field.
Contribute to an Open-Source Project
Once you feel confident enough, try your hand at a project that has other people working on it as well. Programming is not a lonely endeavor, and it’s important to learn to interact with other people on your team and collaborate productively. An open-source project, where the amount of your contribution typically depends on you, is a perfect occasion to hone your soft skills.