The Year of the Python

3 min read

When we asked developers for our $5 Skill Up report what the most valuable skill was in 2015, do you know what they said? Considering the title of this blog and the big snake image, you can probably guess.

Python. Python was the most valuable skill they learned in 2015.

But 2015 is over – so what did developers say they’re hoping to learn from scratch, or increase their skills in in 2016?

Correct guess again! It’s Python. Despite turning 26 this Christmas (it’s the same age as Taylor Swift, you know), the language is thriving. Set to be the most widely adopted new language for two years running is impressive. So why are people flocking to it? Why are we living in the years of the Python? There are three main reasons.

1. It’s being learned by non-developers

In the Skill Up survey, the people who were most likely to mention Python as a valuable skill that they learned also did not tend to describe themselves as traditional software developers. The job role most likely to be learning Python were ‘Academics’, followed by analysts, engineers, and people in a non-IT related role.

These aren’t the people who live to code – but they are the people who are likely finding the ability to program an increasingly useful professional skill. Rather than working with software every day, they are using Python to perform specific and sophisticated tasks. Much like knowledge of working in Microsoft became the essential office skill of the Nineties/Noughties, it looks like Python is becoming the language of choice for those who know they need to be able to code but don’t necessarily define themselves as solely working in dev or IT.

2. It’s easy to pick up

I don’t code. When I talked to my friends who did code, mumbling about maybe learning and looking for suggestions, they told me to learn Python. One of their principal reasons was because it was so bloody easy!

This also ties in heavily to why we see Python being adopted by non-developers. Often being learned as a first programming language, the speed and ease with which you can pick up Python is a boon – even with minimal prior exposure to programming concepts.

With much less of an emphasis on syntax, there’s less chance of tripping up with missing parentheses or semicolons than with more complex languages. Originally designed (and still widely used) as a scripting language, Python has become extremely effective for writing standalone programs. The shorter learning curve means that new users will find themselves creating functioning and meaningful programs in a much shorter period of time than with, say, C or Java.

3. It’s a good all-rounder

Python can do a ton. From app development, to building games, to its dominance of data analysis, to its continued colonization of JavaScript’s sovereign territory of web development through frameworks like Django and Flask, it’s a great language for anyone who wants to learn something non-specialized.

This isn’t to say it’s a Jack of All Trades, Master of None, however. Python is one of the key languages of scientific computing, aided by fast (and C-based) libraries like NumPy. Indeed, the strength of Python’s versatility is the power of its many libraries to allow it to specialize so effectively.

Welcoming Our New Python Overlords

Python is the double threat – used across the programming world by experienced and dedicated developers, and extensively and heartily recommended as the first language for people to pick up when they start working with software and coding. By combining ease-of-entry with effectiveness, it’s come to stand as the most valuable tech skill to learn for the middle of the decade. How many years of the Python do you think lie ahead?


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