How to Learn Python (Step-by-Step Guide)

Posted in Python
How to Learn Python?

Python is a versatile programming language loved by developers, data scientists, software engineers. Python is recommended for both beginners and advanced developers as it is easy to learn and has clean syntax. The language is used to build large and small web and mobile applications as it offers a lot of useful libraries, frameworks, and modules. If you are not convinced about Python, let's see the major benefits that Python offers. This article will give you complete brief about how to learn python.

Why learn Python?

1. Multiple Programming Paradigm

Python supports many programming paradigms because it's dynamic and a strongly typed language. It supports object-oriented programming, functional, empirical as well as structural programming. Python offers built-in functions to test variable types and ensures their proper usage. The language is used extensively in the development of game, web, multi-software, and android applications. Python also provides automatic memory management to deal with dynamic storage management that is useful for sharing, segmentation, or caching.

2. Data Science and Artificial Intelligence 

Python is an interpreted language. Thus, it offers a huge advantage to data scientists. They can run programs without compiling data into machine language before execution and can be used across other domains and technologies. Python beats Object Oriented Programming languages (aka OOP or sometimes OOPs) for its least code usage and straightforward code that can be quickly interpreted by an emulator or virtual machine. 

Data visualization tools in Python such as Panda, Plotly, and more allow you to create appealing statistical data graphs and interactive graphical plots.

3. Web Application Development

Python has brought a drastic change to building web applications development. Python frameworks like Django, CherryPy, Flask, etc., provide developers with extensive libraries and modules to make work easier, speed up content management, error tracking, database access, profiling, and other essential processes. 

4. Web Testing

PyUnit is a built-in unit testing framework provided by Python, which assures the proper working of the code, thus making Python the preferred language for programmers and testers for testing web applications and interfaces to avoid bugs and errors before final launch to the public. Python unit test also provides features such as setup sharing, and code tests shutdown, test aggregation, reporting, and collections.

5. Data Extraction

Web scraping or data extraction retrieves and organizes data from different sources on the web and converts them into valuable data. Python offers several web scraping tools and frameworks that retrieve online data and webpage content efficiently. Lastly, aside from tools and frameworks, Python's standard libraries also provide highly functional tools suited for tasks like machine learning projects, data retrieval, SEO ranking, e-commerce data collection, etc. 

6. Cybersecurity

No other language provides features compared to Python when it comes to cybersecurity. It responds to security threats faster than other languages because of its powerful third-party libraries such as Nmap, Yara, etc. Python is also capable of running penetration tests on web applications and can detect system breaches. It contributes to building impenetrable applications to avoid cyber exploitation using its strong typing script. 

Prerequisites for Learning Python 

1. Learn OOPs Concepts

Python language supports the Object Oriented Programming concepts, which is structuring the program using objects and classes. OOP concepts provide features like classes, methods, polymorphism, encapsulation, and inheritance. We have covered high-level OOPs concepts in Python in the appendix at the end of this article. Learning OOPs is not a mandatory prerequisite.

2. Data Structure and Algorithms 

Learning data structures and algorithms is an optional prerequisite to learning Python; however, you must learn them once you know basic Python.  Get a taste of sorting algorithms, graphs, trees, stack, queue, and linked list, and more. Coding for data structures will give you a chance to explore predefined classes and objects so that you are well-versed with the language before you take up real-life projects.

Learning sorting algorithms will familiarize you with concepts like loops, nested loops, conditional statements, recursion, and more.

You can learn insertion sort in Python in the appendix below.  

3. How to Install Python?

The simplest way to install Python is by visiting the official website of Python www.python.org/downloads and downloading the appropriate version. The official website of Python provides the C implementation of Python, which is CPython.

If you are on Windows, you can install Python in simple 2 steps:

Step 1: Download Python

The first step to install Python is downloading the executable Python file from the official website www.python.org/downloads.

We suggest you download the latest version of Python3. While downloading the Python, make sure that you download the right Python according to your operating system. The Python download file is around 30MB.

  1. 1

Step 2 Install the Downloaded file

  1. Once the Python file is downloaded, double click on it to run the executable file.
  2. Check the Add to Python 3.9 to PATH, this will automatically add the PATH variable for your Python. 2.2
  3. Click on Install Now button2.3
  4. This will install Python on your system.2.4
  5. Verify if Python is Installed 2.5
  6. Open the Command Prompt (win + R, cmd)
  7. Type python, and you will get a similar result (refer screenshot above). 

Verify if pip is installed

pip is the Python package manager; it comes pre-installed with Python, so you do not have to install it separately.

Verify pip

    • Open Command Prompt by typing cmd on run command (Win +R).
    • Type pip -V on command prompt.
    • You will see that pip is installed

Python IDEs

You don't need to install a Python IDE at the very beginning of your Python learning journey, but if you are serious that Python is for you for the long-term, then an IDEs is a superpower. You may want to use code editors, but IDEs are preferred for beginners because of their features such as syntax highlighting, auto-completion, error highlighting, and smart indentation, which trains beginners to write clean code.

You can refer to our article on Python IDEs to learn in-depth about recommended Python IDEs. 

1. PyDev 

  • The IDE includes several features such as CPython, Jython, IronPython.
  • The Pydev plugin to code in Python on Eclipse.
  • Code completion and code analysis.

2. PyCharm

  • It offers active community support.
  • Syntax highlighting and live code feature.
  • Executes edits and debugs Python code without any external requirements.

3. Atom 

  • Customizable interface.
  • Detailed documentation.
  • Offers almost everything VS Code has to offer.

4. IDLE 

  • Can be used to: 
    • execute single statements. 
    • create, modify, and execute Python scripts. 
  • It offers features like syntax highlighting, auto-completion & smart indent.
  • It has a debugger with stepping & breakpoint features.

5. Repl.it: It is a free online Python compiler. We love it.

How To Learn Python

Learning Python is not about reading books or enrolling in an online course; instead, it must be only coding practice, practice, and practice. Learn the basics, to begin with, such as concepts like variables, loops, conditional statements, and classes and methods and then work on your coding skills and learn the rest as you code through your way. Participate in online coding challenges and problems, try solving them, and learn something new about the language. Learning through imparting practical knowledge gives you a whole new level of confidence and experience to learn about the language. 

You can refer to our best Python courses article to learn about the top courses recommended by Python developers. Below are a few of them in brief:

1. Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from Zero to Hero in Python 3

Topics covered in the course:

  • Advanced Python modules
  • Basics of object and data structures
  • Comparison operators
  • Decorators and generators
  • Errors and exception handling
  • Methods and functions
  • Modules and packages
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Python 2 vs. Python 3
  • Python statements
  • Setting up Python

2. Python for Everybody Specialization

What the course teaches:

  • Basics to construct a program.
  • The core data structure of python programming.
  • Web scraping using Python
  • Working with HTML, XML, and JSON data formats in Python
  • Databases in Python
  • Build Applications to retrieve, process & visualize data using python programming

3. Python 3 Tutorial from Codeacademy

What it teaches:

  • File operations using Python
  • Functions, function arguments, and control flow
  • Looping in Python
  • Python modules
  • Python syntax
  • Using dictionaries
  • Working with lists

4. Google's Python Class (Free Python tutorial)

What it teaches:

  • Dictionaries and files
  • Introduction to the Python programming language
  • Lists and strings
  • Regular Expressions
  • Setting up Python
  • Sorting
  • Utilities

5. Python Tutorial for Beginners | Full Python Programming Course (Python video tutorial)

What it teaches

  • Dictionaries
  • Inheritance
  • For Loops and Nested Loops
  • Installing and setting up Python 3
  • Type conversion, formatted strings, and arithmetic operations
  • Modules and packages
  • Operator precedence
  • PyPi and PIP
  • Python cheat sheet
  • Python code execution

Official Python Documentation

When it comes to learning from the best, nothing can beat the official documentation for Python. Python's official documentation is the most authentic resource online that gives you a chance to self learn the language step-by-step starting from scratch, including installing Python to your system. Check out the official Python documentation here

Build Python Projects 

This step is mandatory if you plan to aspire to be a Python developer. Once you are confident enough in your learning track, please take the next step of building projects and adding them to your portfolio. Take a beginner level project that interests you and something that urges you to learn more. It would be best to begin with an easy project to keep up with your interests and spirits. No one is stopping you from taking up challenges if you love them!

We have listed below a few projects here, however, we encourage you to try more Python projects for the enhancement of your skills.

1. Mad Libs Generator 

Beginner programmers most love the project as it has concepts like strings, variables, and concatenation. The project prompts the user for a series of input, and then the application arranges these to build a story template. 

2. Alarm Clock 

It is amongst the common projects to build when one learns a new language. The alarm clock project is a Command Line Interface (CLI) Python application and favorite to all as everyone uses it, and this is installed in every device. 

3. Tic- Tac- Toe 

This project is for game lovers who like playing games and also building one. Tic-tac-toe is a popular game that everyone likes, and hence this project is an interesting one to be one of your firsts.

Earn a Python Certification

This may seem challenging while you are a beginner, but if you have decided to be a Python developer by profession, then taking this step and earning a certification guarantees you to open new doors in your career path. Don't be afraid to study and earn a certification; instead, take it as a challenging task and win over it with a badge or certificate. 

Choosing the best certification that suits your portfolio can be overwhelming, so we have listed a few popular certifications you might want to begin. You can even check out our detailed article on Python Certifications to explore further options.

1. PCEP (Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer)

  • Duration: 45 minutes for the exam + 5 minutes for going through the non-disclosure agreement and the tutorial.
  • Level: Entry
  • Passing Percentage: 70%
  • Price: $59
  • Total Questions: 30

2. PCPP1 (Certified Professional in Python Programming 1)

  • Duration: 65 minutes for the examination and 10 minutes for going through the non-disclosure agreement or tutorial.
  • Level: Professional
  • Passing Percentage: 70%
  • Price: $195
  • Total Questions: 40

3. Microsoft Technology Associate 98-381: Introduction to Programming Using Python

  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Level: Associate
  • Passing Percentage: 70%
  • Price: $127
  • Total Questions: 40

Python Interview Questions

Once you are confident with the Python language and see yourself working as a Python developer, no one stops you from applying for the job that interests you. Ace your interview and land your dream job of being a Python developer. We have recommended below the commonly asked Python interview questions for the rest to check out for further preparation. Apart from studying for Python interview questions, you must also have good hands-on coding experience as no interview occurs without a technical round, which tests your coding skills. Also, having a portfolio of Python projects is a plus. Let us see popular interview questions below: 

  1. What is PYTHONPATH?
  2. What are the positive and negative indices?
  3. Can we reverse a list in Python?
  4. Does Python support an intrinsic do-while loop?
  5. Why do we need membership operators in Python?

Here is our in-depth article on more Python Interview Questions. Go through every interview question before your interview or just to test how many you can answer:)

Python Frameworks

Frameworks make life easier for programmers by automating the implementation of redundant tasks, thereby cutting development time and allowing developers to focus on the program's logic. Python offers abundant frameworks and is broadly categorized as full-stack, micro-framework, and asynchronous. We shall discuss Django and Flask briefly below, which are most preferred by the developers. To make a further choice of frameworks for your projects, visit Top Python Frameworks.

1. Django 

Django is a full-stack, open-source, and free to use framework. It follows the DRY principle and makes use of its ORM for mapping objects to database tables. It offers great built-in features rather than offering them as individual libraries. 

Key features of Django: 

  • It offers abundant libraries that are readily available.
  • Authentication support
  • Database schema migrations
  • Object-relational mapper (ORM)
  • Support for web servers
  • Template engine
  • URL routing

2. Flask 

Flask is a microframework that allows developers to build a solid web application foundation from where it is possible to use any extensions required. The framework requires the Jinja2 template and Werkzeug WSGI toolkit and is inspired by the Sinatra Ruby framework. The framework is also compatible with Google App Engine.

Key features of Flask: 

  • Built-in fast debugger
  • HTTP request handling
  • Inbuilt development server
  • Jinja2 templating
  • RESTful request dispatching
  • Support for plugging in any ORM
  • Supports secure cookies to establish client-side sessions
  • Unicode-based
  • Unit testing support
  • WSGI 1.0 compliance

Wrapping Up 

This ends our detailed guide to become a Python developer. Let us have a quick look at what we have gathered in this post: 

Benefits of Python and its uses: Multi-paradigm Programming language, used in web testing, data extraction, AI and data science, cybersecurity, and more. 

Prerequisites of Learning Python: Learn data structures and algorithms, OOP concepts, and where to install Python. 

Python IDEs: Popular IDEs such as PyCharm, PyDev, Atom, IDLE, and repl.it compiler.

Python Courses: We discussed a few popular courses to kickstart your journey to become a Python developer. 

Python Projects: I must emphasize this as this gives you an edge over others when you apply for a future job. Having projects in your portfolio increases your chances of getting hired, plus you learn a lot!. 

Python Certifications: Earning a certification and getting certified increases your confidence in the language and offers benefits like a pay increase and may be promoted. 

Python Interview Questions: Interview questions are the best way to test yourself while preparing for an interview and boost your confidence for the big test day. 

Go ahead and start your journey of becoming a professional Python developer and end up in your dream job.

How did you find this article? Was it informative enough? Or not? Let us know!

Feel free to post a question below, if any. Also, check the other blog that we have provided you with links in this article. 

Good Luck with your Learning!. 

Appendix 

OOPS Concepts Explained in Python  

Let us see in detail how Python supports OOPs concepts:

Classes and Objects

Class is considered the blueprint of the object; for example, consider a picture sketch of an animal that tells about the animal-like color, species, build, and more so we have a detailed description of the animal study. A class in Python is defined using the class keyword. Once a class is created an object is created for the particular class. 

Creating a class: 
class Animal:
Creating an object:
obj = Animal()
Sample code for Animal class
class Animal:
   # class attribute
   species1 = "dog"
   species2 = "cat"
   # instance attribute
   def __init__(self, name, age):
       self.name = name
       self.age = age
# instantiate the Parrot class
bob = Animal("Bob", 5)
cherry = Animal("Cherry", 4)
# access the class attributes
print("Bob is a {}".format(bob.__class__.species1))
print("Cherry is a {}".format(cherry.__class__.species2))
# access the instance attributes
print("{} is {} years old".format( bob.name, bob.age))
print("{} is {} years old".format( cherry.name, cherry.age))

Output: 

Bob is a dog
Cherry is a cat
Bob is 5 years old
Cherry is 4 years old

Methods 

Methods define the behavior of an object and are defined inside the class. 

Sample code for Animal class with methods. 

class Animal:
# instance attributes
   def __init__(self, name, age):
       self.name = name
       self.age = age
   # instance method
   def barks(self, song):
       return "{} barks {}".format(self.name, song)
   def jumps(self):
       return "{} is now jumping".format(self.name)
# instantiate the object
bob = Animal("Bob", 10)
# call our instance methods
print(bob.barks("'bow bow'"))
print(bob.jumps())

Output: 

Bob barks' bow bow.'
Bob is now jumping

Inheritance 

Python supports inheritance, i.e., creating a new class with the existing class's help and deriving some properties from it. 

class Animal:
def __init__(self):
       print("Animal is furry")
   def whoisThis(self):
       print("Animal")
   def carnivore(self):
       print("loves meat")
# child class
class Dog(Animal):
   def __init__(self):
       # call super() function
       super().__init__()
       print("Dog is furry")
   def whoisThis(self):
       print("Dog")
   def run(self):
       print("Runs faster")
peggy = Dog()
peggy.whoisThis()
peggy.carnivore()
peggy.run()

Output: 

Animal is furry
Dog is furry
Dog
loves meat
Run faster

Polymorphism

The polymorphism concept allows code reusability in multiple forms. 

Sample code: 

class Dog:
   def fly(self):
       print("Dogs don't fly")
 
   def swim(self):
       print("Dogs love to swim")
class Cat:
   def fly(self):
       print("Cats don't fly")    
   def swim(self):
       print("Cats don't like to swim")
# common interface
def flying_test(animal):
   animal.fly()
#instantiate objects
bob = Dog()
cherry = Cat()
# passing the object
flying_test(bob)
flying_test(cherry)

Output: 

Dogs don't fly
Cats don't fly

Encapsulation

Encapsulation prevents data from modification by restricting access to variables and methods. Python declares attributes as private with an underscore as the prefix. 

Sample Code: 

class Student:
   def __init__(self):
       self.__maxmarks = 500
   def marksObtain(self):
       print("Marks Obtained: {}".format(self.__maxmarks))
   def percent(self, percentage):
       self.__maxmarks = percentage
s = Student()
s.marksObtain()
# change the percentage
s.__maxmarks = 1000
s.marksObtain()
# using setter function
s.percent(1000)
s.marksObtain()

Output: 

Marks Obtained: 500
Marks Obtained: 500
Marks Obtained: 1000

Insertion Sort in Python

Let us see a small sample code for insertion sort in Python: (this can also go to appendix)

def insertionSort(array):
   for step in range(1, len(array)):
       key = array[step]
        i = step - 1

 # Compare key with each element on the left of it until an element smaller than it is found
# For descending order, change key<array[j] to key>array[j].       

  while i >= 0 and key < array[i]:
           array[i + 1] = array[i]
           i = i - 1
       # Place the key after the element just smaller than it.
        array[i + 1] = key

data = [21, 12,8, 34,1, 45,18,5]
insertionSort(data)
print('Sorted Array in ascending order:')
print(data)

Output: 

Sorted Array in ascending order:

[1, 5, 8, 12, 18, 21, 34, 45]

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Simran Kaur Arora

Simran Kaur Arora

Simran works at Hackr as a technical writer. The graduate in MS Computer Science from the well known CS hub, aka Silicon Valley, is also an editor of the website. She enjoys writing about any tech topic, including programming, algorithms, cloud, data science, and AI. Traveling, sketching, and gardening are the hobbies that interest her. View all posts by the Author

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