One of the main strengths of using Python as a teaching language for coding is that it is a modern, living language, used very broadly in the real world. It is not a teaching-only language, or a language developed especially for kids. We have long argued that teaching Python for kids is the best way to teach them coding.
The first version of the Python language was released in the early 1990s. A decade later it had reached the top ten of coding languages, and in today's various rankings of programming languages it typically takes one of the top three spots. The language has seen a significant rise in popularity and use in the past 5 years or so.
As Python matured from a young, upstart coding language to the mature, reliable tool it is today, it shifted from being a language used mostly by individuals and small teams to one that large companies across many sectors of industry use.
So, which companies use Python?
Let's start with some names that everyone knows.
Google, love it of hate it, is as big as it gets when talking about tech companies. Python is one of the main languages used within Google across many of its projects and services.
Indeed, the programmer who first created Python and has been behind the development of Python, Guido van Rossum, worked at Google for a while too.
So, you've heard of Google. You may also have heard of another company called Facebook, perhaps? Facebook uses Python heavily too. As with Google and indeed many tech companies, there are several coding languages being used across different divisions of these companies, but Facebook is relying increasingly on Python primarily because of the speed of development of new services using Python. One of the areas Facebook uses Python for is for dealing with images on the platform. And we know there are many images there!
Python is one of the programming languages in which it takes the least amount of time for a programmer to write code. For companies in very competitive markets, this is particularly important as they want to go from idea to finished product in the least amount of time possible.
A good example of this is the Google Video vs YouTube anecdote. In what seems like a lifetime ago, before the time when it was possible to easily post a video online for others to watch, Google was working on a platform to deliver this. It was called Google Video. A small upstart company by the name of YouTube was also doing something similar. Google was already a large company at the time and had set up a very large team of developers to work on this project. YouTube on the other hand only had a small team.
One of the reasons YouTube still exists today but Google Video doesn't is that whereas Google used C++ for this project, YouTube was using Python. This enabled them to come out with new features and react to what users wanted a lot quicker, despite having the smaller team. Of course, in the end YouTube was taken over by Google and now contributes to the growing use of Python within Google.
You can probably already get a sense of the types of companies who use Python in the real world. Let's throw in a few more very well known names. Amazon suggests what else you may want to buy using algorithms developed in Python. Netflix and Spotify also rely on Python for a lot of the data analysis and their back-end infrastructure, as does Instagram.
It seems like we have ticked off almost all the tech giants of 2020. Let's add one more: Microsoft. Microsoft has been committing itself a lot more to Python in recent years, and has this year brought on board Guido van Rossum himself (remember him from earlier on, the creator of Python).
Moving away from the tech companies, Python is becoming increasingly used in all aspects of finance too. Many of the large banks and other financial institutions rely on Python for many aspects of their operations. And many analysts within these institutions who in the past would have relied very heavily on Excel for analysing data are now reliant on Python. We at codetoday spend a lot of time running Python training courses in financial companies based in the City, and increasingly to their teams based elsewhere around the world via our remote training programmes.
Let's move across to some other industries too. How about Pixar, the studio renowned for many animated films that our children (and us parents too) love. Parts of the pipelines for creating such films and for the large amounts of computational work required in every aspect of making these films (or movies, if you prefer) uses Python.
Time to leave Earth and travel to space with NASA. Like all of the organisations mentioned so far, NASA uses many different languages for different projects and divisions. It is not used for software that actually goes off into space—for this assembly language needs to be used, but Python is one of the languages used to analyse data received on the ground and to create models and simulations, among other things.
Coming back to Earth, we see government agencies all around the world using Python to analyse the increasing amount of data collected. The NHS in the UK, and many other healthcare agencies worldwide, rely heavily on Python for understanding the data. This was true this year in particular with plenty of data relating to COVID-19 coming in that needed to be analysed in a short time span so that decisions could be made quickly. We return to one of Python's strengths here, that developers can write code and get results a lot more quickly in Python compared with other languages.
Computer languages come and go over time. The languages that were popular in the 70s and 80s are either defunct or not used much today. It is safe to say that at some point in the distant future, Python will no longer be the language of choice for so many fields. But that day is still very far away. Python in 2020 has become so essential and widespread in so many distinct fields and used across so many companies, that even when a new, upstart language comes about that offers clear advantages over Python, it will take a while before Python is retired.
Python is here to stay for a long time.
Oh, and one more company that uses Python extensively for a lot of its operations and data analysis: codetoday. You've heard of codetoday too.