A Complete Beginner’s Introduction to Python
Introduction to the Introduction
You’re about to have a lot of fun. Python is my favorite programming language and I can’t wait to share it with you!
By reading this, you’ll learn about topics that range from just getting Python installed on your computer to the amazing things you can do with it after you understand the basics.
Python is, in my opinion, the most welcoming programming language. Both in terms of the community around it and the language’s syntax itself.
Saying hello with python is as simple as:
>>> print("Hello!") Hello!
Now there are plenty of concepts to master, but as you work with the language you’ll see that many of them are simply intuitive.
Here are a few things about Python to keep in mind:
- Python is open source: You can can see all of the underlying code and everyone has the chance to contribute to the code base. Take a look on GitHub: https://github.com/python
- Python is popular: Python consistently ranks as one of the most loved and wanted programming languages.
- Python is portable: Python code can be developed and run on Windows, Mac, or Linux systems.
- Python is powerful and flexible: Python has a massive community of developers behind it that have contributed powerful tools and applied Python to a variety of different problems.
What Can You Do with Python?
Lots! Here is a tiny subset of the things that you can do with Python:
- Write, access and modify files on your computer
- Collect and clean data from the web
- Build and deploy websites or APIs
- Create your own desktop games
So what do I need to know or have right now?
You should know some of the basics of using computers as a non-programmer. This includes things like using web browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox to download programs and visit webpages when given a URL like: https://www.python.org/.
Required Materials and Environment
You will also need to have a “real computer” that you have full permissions over.
What I mean by this is that you won’t be able to use a smartphone, iPad, or graphing calculator to following along (at least none of the graphing calculators I’ve ever used before). You will need a computer that has a Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system installed. Preferably, you’ll have a more modern version of any of those operating systems. This is because the more ancient your operating system, the more difficult it will be to guarantee it will work with the modern tools used in this course.
Additionally, your computer, regardless of the operating system will require administrator privileges so that you can download and install programs and software packages.
A Quick Note on Syntax
If you see something in this guide that looks like this:
You should assume that it is some sort of code that should be typed out in the exact same way as you see it. Additionally, if you see some part of this guide with a dollar sign at the start like this:
$ python3 --version
You should assume that that indicates you need to type it into your Terminal, or Command Prompt. Whereas if you see something that has three greater-than signs like this:
>>> import time
That means you should type the code that follows it into the Python interpreter (more on the Terminal/Command Prompt vs. the Python interpreter later).