After three decades of development, the language has matured, but by no means old. Their popularity has recently increased thanks to data science and machine learning.
The origins of the General Purpose Language Python created by Guido van Rossum go back to the year 1989, but the official starting shot was given on February 20, 1991. The universally applicable and above all easy to learn programming language celebrated its 30th weekend. year anniversary. Especially since the completely object-oriented version Python 2.0, which was published at the turn of the millennium, the language’s popularity has grown steadily – until it finally became one of the preferred teaching language in the university environment in the 2010s.
Community governance instead of benevolent dictator
As a so-called benevolent dictator for life (BDFL), language creator van Rossum accompanied the further development of Python over many years and actively promoted it. It was only after a heated dispute over the proposed introduction of assignment expressions ( PEP 572 ) that van Rossum resigned from his post in 2018 . As a result, the Python Software Foundation and the community sought a new governance model that should ensure the further development of the programming language.
However, these disputes did not harm the popularity of Python, nor did the break with the consistent backward compatibility that always characterized Python 2.x when the Python 3.x series was launched in 2008 . The end of this has now been sealed with the release of version 2.7.18 on April 20, 2020.
Slow but steady ascent
Almost at the same time as Python 3 was launched, Google also recognized the advantages of the multi-paradigm language and was the first to choose it for the Platform as a Service (PaaS) App Engine – even before Java, PHP and Go. However, scientific applications such as numerical calculations and the visual processing of results with the well-known NumPy and Matplotlib libraries developed into the most important fields of application of Python. In recent years, machine learning and data science have also fueled the use of Python, especially through libraries and frameworks such as TensorFlow, Keras, scikit-learn and PyTorch.
The still growing popularity of Python is reflected, among other things, in the various regularly published programming language rankings, in which Python has now firmly established itself in the top group alongside Java, C and C ++ – and has also been voted “Language of the Year” several times. was chosen, for example in the TIOBE Programming Community Index for 2020 .
Looking ahead: pattern matching
Even if Python can undoubtedly be one of the most mature languages that has established itself and proven itself in many fields of application, the community continues to set itself ambitious goals and drive the further development of the language. For the next update – Python 3.10 should be completed in autumn 2021 – the expansion to include pattern matching, for example, is targeted, making it one of the most comprehensive syntax changes in a long time.
While Python has always benefited from its flexible expandability, which is reflected in high-performance additions such as libraries written in C (e.g. NumPy), further, sometimes complex innovations have been introduced in recent years – including the Async IO and the dynamic type system , which give developers more options to optimize their code and performance.
However, a revision of the packaging is still on the wish list of many Python users. When installing and packaging, Python demands a lot of effort and the use of numerous tools from its users – and thus lags behind the convenience of other programming languages.