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OK, but what does that mean? Let’s break that definition apart. First up, what is a scripting language?
TLDR: Scripting languages tell computer programs (like websites or web applications) to “do something,” so you, the person sitting at the keyboard or holding your phone, don’t have to.
Scripting languages are just another type of coding languages. They’re used to make things easier for users by automating website and app processes that you’d otherwise need to execute on your own, each and every time. Without scripting, any live changes or updates on web pages you visit would require manually reloading the page, or you’d have to go through a series of static menus to get to the content you’re after. When anything on a web page or web app animates, refreshes, or adjusts automatically according to your input, it’s often a scripting language that makes it happen.
2. What is Python?
“Python is an interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming language with dynamic semantics.”
This is the Python Software Foundation’s thumbnail definition, and no, it’s not clear at all. But don’t panic! Let’s break down what it actually means.
Python is an Object-Oriented Programming Language
But we still need a non-jargony definition.
Object oriented languages (like Python) take a different approach—these languages allow programmers to create virtual objects in their code and give each of these objects unique attributes and abilities. All of the objects a developer creates are then able to interact with each other or perform actions on their own.
An object oriented programming language gives developers a virtual set of building blocks. Each block (or object) is defined by its shape, size, and type of behavior (e.g. can if be stacked on top of a different kind of block? Can other kinds of blocks be stacked on top of it? Where is it placed right now?). Meanwhile, groups of objects can be given instructions—for instance a programmer might instruct a group of “A” blocks to build a tower, while telling a group of “B” blocks to create steps leading to the top of the tower.
Through this object model, object oriented programming languages like Python reduce complexity for developers by mimicking real world building dynamics and giving programmers a clear structure to work with. Objects can be isolated and maintained separately from the rest of their code (making it easier to locate and repair bugs), and—once created—they can be easily reused in future programs.
(an example of Python code for a virtual Magic 8 Ball)
So What is Python Used For?
According to the Python Software Foundation, Python serves two common purposes. It can be used for full scale software development (i.e. to create an entire software program), but—due to its easy to learn, object oriented syntax (where programmers work directly with objects as their building blocks)—Python also makes an ideal “scripting or glue language to connect existing components (of a website or software application) together.”
And Python Also Has Libraries and Frameworks
Now that you have a basic understanding of both languages, we can get back to comparing them head on.
- Is one language inherently better than the other?
- If you had to pick one to start with, which should it be?
- And if you do pick one, how long does it take to learn, where can you learn it, and what kind of jobs can you expect to qualify for?
How to Choose: A Quickstart Guide
Step 1: What Does Your Company (or Your Ideal Company) Use?
Step 2: If You Just Want to Learn Your First Programming Language, Start Anywhere That Feels Right
But what if you’re starting from square one and aren’t far enough along to have a specific job in mind yet? The first, most critical piece of advice is to pick a language, any language, and start learning—taking that first step of getting started with coding is way more important than the particular language you pick. And, after you learn your first language, there’s nothing stopping you from learning more (and each successive one will only be easier to get the hang of).
How Much Time It’ll Take
Where to Learn It
How Much Time It’ll Take
Where to Learn It
If you’re looking for resources to help you learn Python, you should head directly to the Python Software Foundation’s Beginner’s Guide. This free resource has extensive tutorials for Python beginners, including material for tailored specifically to beginners with no programming experience, and material for beginners with some programming experience. And if you’re looking for even more Python learning resources, try sites like learnpython.org and python-guide.org. We’re also in the process of gauging interest in a Skillcrush Python course—you can sign up to be the first to know when it launches.
Indeed’s Python jobs also include junior positions like quality assurance engineers and entry level software engineers, with a decent amount of specialized and higher level positions like machine learning/artificial intelligence engineers mixed in (due to Python’s more general purpose orientation). Meanwhile, Indeed reports an average junior Python developer salary at $80,786.
If you’re ready to start learning the skills it takes to work as a web developer, check out our Skillcrush Front End Developer and Web Developer Blueprint courses. These online classes are designed to be completed in three months by spending only an hour a day on the materials, and will set you up with all the skills you’ll need to break into tech.
Scott Morris is Skillcrush's staff writer and content producer. Like all the members of Skillcrush's team, he works remotely (in his case from Napa, CA). He believes that content that's worth reading (and that your audience can find!) creates brands that people follow. He's experienced writing on topics including jobs and technology, digital marketing, career pivots, gender equity, parenting, and popular culture. Before starting his career as a writer and content marketer, he spent 10 years as a full-time parent to his daughters Veronica and Athena.