Python is a general-purpose, interpreted high-level programming language whose design philosophy emphasizes code readability. Its syntax is said to be clear and expressive. Python has a large and comprehensive standard library.
Python supports multiple programming paradigms, primarily but not limited to object-oriented, imperative and, to a lesser extent, functional programming styles.
It features a fully dynamic type system and automatic memory management, similar to that of Scheme, Ruby, Perl, and Tcl. Like other dynamic languages, Python is often used as a scripting language, but is also used in a wide range of non-scripting contexts. Using third-party tools, Python code can be packaged into standalone executable programs. Python interpreters are available for many operating systems.
CPython, the reference implementation of Python, is free and open source software and has a community-based development model, as do nearly all of its alternative implementations. CPython is managed by the non-profit Python Software Foundation.
Python is a remarkably powerful dynamic programming language that is used in a wide variety of application domains. Python is often compared to Tcl, Perl, Ruby, Scheme or Java. Some of its key distinguishing features include:
- very clear, readable syntax
- strong introspection capabilities
- intuitive object orientation
- natural expression of procedural code
- full modularity, supporting hierarchical packages
- exception-based error handling
- very high level dynamic data types
- extensive standard libraries and third party modules for virtually every task
- extensions and modules easily written in C, C++ (or Java for Jython, or .NET languages for IronPython)
- embeddable within applications as a scripting interface
Python is powerful... and fast
Fans of Python use the phrase "batteries included" to describe the standard library, which covers everything from asynchronous processing to zip files. The language itself is a flexible powerhouse that can handle practically any problem domain. Build your own web server in three lines of code. Build flexible data-driven code using Python's powerful and dynamic introspection capabilities and advanced language features such as meta-classes, duck typing and decorators.
Python lets you write the code you need, quickly. And, thanks to a highly optimized byte compiler and support libraries, Python code runs more than fast enough for most applications. The traditional implementation of CPython uses a bytecode virtual machine; PyPy supports just-in-time (JIT) compilation to machine code. Also, Jython and IronPython (see below) support JIT compilation on their respective virtual machine implementations.
Python plays well with others
Python can integrate with COM, .NET, and CORBA objects.
For Java libraries, use Jython, an implementation of Python for the Java Virtual Machine.
For .NET, try IronPython , Microsoft's new implementation of Python for .NET, or Python for .NET.
Python is also supported for the Internet Communications Engine (ICE) and many other integration technologies.
If you find something that Python cannot do, or if you need the performance advantage of low-level code, you can write extension modules in C or C++, or wrap existing code with SWIG or Boost.Python. Wrapped modules appear to your program exactly like native Python code. That's language integration made easy. You can also go the opposite route and embed Python in your own application, providing your users with a language they'll enjoy using.
Python runs everywhere
Python is available for all major operating systems: Windows, Linux/Unix, OS/2, Mac, Amiga, among others. There are even versions that run on .NET and the Java virtual machine. You'll be pleased to know that the same source code will run unchanged across all implementations.
Your favorite system isn't listed here? It may still support Python if there's a C compiler for it. Ask around on news:comp.lang.python - or just try compiling Python yourself.
The Python newsgroup is known as one of the friendliest around. The avid developer and user community maintains a wiki, hosts international and local conferences, runs development sprints, and contributes to online code repositories.
Python also comes with complete documentation, both integrated into the language and as separate web pages. Online tutorials target both the seasoned programmer and the newcomer. All are designed to make you productive quickly. The availability of first-rate books completes the learning package.
Python is Open
The Python implementation is under an open source license that makes it freely usable and distributable, even for commercial use. The Python license is administered by the Python Software Foundation.