Interest in Python is at an all time high. The 2012 US Pycon sold out quickly, taking many of us within the Python community by surprise. This annual event is currently capped at 1500 attendees and has never sold out so fast before.
So, why this global fascination with Pycons (aka “Flying Circuses”)? One word comes to mind above all: diversity. At a Pycon, professionals from disparate fields come together, compare notes, and find common ground thanks to, of all things, a computer language. As a result, becoming part of the Python community and attending Pycons offers tremendous opportunities for professional growth.
Python’s rough-and-ready ability to get work done right out of the box accounts for much of its growing popularity. The language is simple and elegant, while flexible and adaptable. You’ll often hear the marketing slogans, “batteries included” or “plays well with others,” associated with Python; cliche though they may be, in reference to Python, those statements are true.
Python borrows elements from a variety of other languages, such as Icon, Haskell, Modula-3, and of course, C. Python allows “refugees” from other languages to keep a lot of their habits. Did you start out with Pascal or BASIC or dBase? The switch won’t seem that dramatic. Python’s cosmopolitan design helps fill the needs of diverse populations, from bioinformatics specialists to deep space astronomers, to newspaper publishers seeking to archive their stories on the web.
In previous Pycons, I’ve seen Python’s tkinter canvas tool used for an air traffic control system for remote facilities in Siberia and a military group show off how a certain well known video game, with Python bindings, had become a language teaching game, complete with speech recognition components!
I had the privilege of training some of the folks associated with the Hubble and Webb space telescopes recently, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Python will play a vital role in their plans to make astronomical data more readily accessible, using free tools like Numpy.
As a student of Python, you will be on a path to open not just one, but many professional doors. That’s important in a world where over-specialization can narrow your perspectives and limit your potential. Python is manageable and “fits your brain,” and at the same time, it can be mind-expanding.