Lately, Python seems to be the new coding language that everyone is learning, and for good reason. Python is easy to learn, and has many practical applications. Many coders choose Python for a variety of different applications – and you could be one of them.
In this article, we’re aiming to break down some basics about Python, so that if you’re interested in learning, this is your first stop. We’ll explain:
- What Python is, and how it differs from other coding languages
- What is Python most useful for?
- 8 best websites for learning Python
So, sit back, and start noting where you need to go and what you need to do in order to start learning Python today.
What Python is, and how it differs from other coding languages
Python is a high-level programming language that has dynamic semantics. It has an easy-to-learn syntax that emphasizes readability. This makes it easy to reuse, which reduces the overall cost of maintenance of the program over time. It also increases productivity because it has no compilation step.
It also has built-in data structures, dynamic typing, and dynamic binding, which is great for Rapid Application Development. The Python Standard Library is also available for free, can be freely distributed, and is available in source form or binary form. Interestingly, Python was named after the sketch comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Because Python’s language very closely resembles the English language, it’s generally considered to be easy to learn, as well as to read and use over time. It is also broken up into cross-platform sets of modules specific to what you’re working to develop, such as PyGame (for video games), or SciPy (for mathematics, science, and engineering).
What is Python most useful for?
- Prototyping your video game – Python is great for developing video games. Using PyGame can help you get the functions of your video game, including sound triggers and mouse/keyboard controls, mapped out much faster than with other coding languages.
- Film and animation – Disney and Lucasfilm are examples of some film companies that use Python for their computer animation.
- Building web pages – Many webpages, including Reddit and NASA, use Python for their webpage development.
- Generating maps and graphs – Python’s integration with other programming languages makes it easy to use to create imagery, especially maps and graphs, from sets of data.
- Building apps – Apps are increasingly relying on Python for development. With Python, they require generally fewer lines of code to get similar results, and can be built much faster.
Now that you know what you’re learning, the next step is where to go to learn it. These 8 sites have online courses, lessons, tutorials, videos, tests, and information that you need to learn Python. Many of them can be used for free, which is a great alternative to costly college courses.
8 best websites for learning Python
One of the most popular online tutorials for learning coding by far, Codecademy has awesome interactive tutorials that teach you how to code, and force you to create code as you learn. You can work through the tutorials at your own pace, and re-do them as often as you need to until you really nail the concepts. By the time you’re done, you will have created something with Python, and you’ll be all set to create your own product out in the real world!
2. Learn Python the Hard Way
A well-reviewed book now turned into an e-book, Learn Python the Hard Way can take you from total beginner to being able to code in Python and create your own products. The book has professionally rendered, high-quality PDFs and HD video lessons to help you learn. Because you’re downloading a digital copy, you can read it/listen to it as often as you like. And though it costs to purchase the book (which is now available online), you can try it out for free first for 60 days, and receive a refund if you aren’t satisfied with it.
3. MIT OpenCourseWare
MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a world-leader in education geared towards math, sciences, and technology. With their OpenCourseWare, you get access to tons of the same courses they offer to their undergraduate students – all for free. Get access to real lectures, videos, course materials, and so much more. It will be as if you’re really taking a course at MIT! Though you may have to pay for some additional course materials (such as an electronic textbooks), you can get through much of the courses for free.
This website has tons of information and individual print lessons on each topic you need to learn about, including lists, basic operators, loops, basic string operations, modules and packages, and so much more. Each lesson has visuals of the lines of code you need, which is great for seeing what you need to type. However, it is not quite as interactive as other websites, though it is an excellent resource. This site is totally free to use, and always will be!
5. Code School
Code School is a site that connects experienced instructors and industry experts, so they can teach you to code through video lessons and give you real feedback right away. You can work through each challenge after watching a video, complete tasks, and then track your progress by earning badges. With 4 courses on Python, including how Django works, you can become a pro quickly, for free.
Udemy, an online leader in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), allows users to sign up for a course that takes place all online. You can work through lessons, videos, and tutorials, and even have your tests graded by a professor or industry leader. Courses do typically cost money, although they are frequently discounted to be only about $15-30 per course.
Here are some great Udemy Python courses you should check out:
- Complete Python Masterclass
- Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from Zero to Hero in Python
- Practical Python: Regular Expressions with Python
- The Python Bible | Everything You Need to Know to Program in Python
- Learning Python for Data Analysis and Visualization
- Python for Financial Analysis and Algorithmic Trading
7. Code Mentor
This website is not free to use, but it can be more helpful than any lesson because it connects you with an expert on a specific topic for which you may have a question. Whether you’re just starting out with Python and want to learn which steps to take, or you’ve blown through online tutorials and need advice on using Python practically and applying it to your own projects, someone is there to help you.
You can get live, 1:1 help from someone, or even connect with a life-long mentor to help you. You pay anywhere from $15-$50 for 15 minutes of help, and then depending on the price of the mentor, pay for each additional minute after that.
Similar to Udemy, Coursera offers MOOCs, and has plenty of courses taught by real, leading universities across the world, that you can take from the comfort of your own home – for free. Python is one subject you can use Coursera to learn about, and you can take the courses without paying. Though, if you do, you won’t receive any credit, grading, or (in most cases) any assistance from the professor. You do, however, get access to the course materials and information, so you can still learn how to code according to your own schedule.
Check out these great courses on Coursera about Python coding:
- Programming for Everybody: Getting Started with Python
- Python Programming: A Concise Introduction
- Python Data Structures
- Using Databases with Python
- Applied Data Science with Python (5-course specialization)
- Python for Everybody (5-course specialization)
Hopefully, with the aid of these resources, you can become a Python expert in no time! And if you find another website or app that helps you learn Python well, be sure to share it with us in the comments so we can add it to our list! If you’re interested in learning other coding languages as well, check out our article on the best places to learn coding online for free.