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Python Programming Language: Pros and Cons for Tech Founders

by Vitaliy Podoba
Vitaliy Podoba avatar

I used to be a developer for a decade before changing a career path. Throughout that time, I worked with different programming languages, such as PHP, Javascript, or C++. No other language worked out for me as well as Python did. 

I wrote my first program, Piano (on a PyGame platform) using Python, as well as lots of other web programs and applications. I even wrote a book on how to start code in Python if you’re a beginner. 

We started our agency in 2011, and have been using Python exclusively for all our backend web development. For all that time, we didn’t regret once choosing Python. We started our journey as Plone CMS developers, switched to the Django web framework later. On the front end, we began with Django templates, adding jQuery, BackboneJS, AnguarJS, ReactJS and React Native later. 

One thing that always stayed the same was using Python for the backend for all our projects. 

Let’s find out why Python is a top choice for the majority of our tasks, who else uses it, and whether there are any drawbacks to it.

Areas of Use

Python became a top programming language in 2021. Why? Because small and large companies from all industries trust it to build their websites on it. Let’s talk about industries that rely on Python to build their online presence. 

Web development 

Python offers lots of choices for web development, including its many frameworks. Some of them include: 

With Python, it’s easy to code backends with the REST API protocol, and a lot of web applications work with this protocol on the backend. Django framework has a strong REST API library support, saving your time and resources. 

When checking out different programming languages for your project, remember that such giant companies as Spotify, Netflix, Instagram, and many more use Python to implement their tasks. 

Education and training 

Did you know that Python overtook French as the most popular “language” taught in UK primary schools in 2015? How did it happen? Python is exceptionally simple to learn and understand, even for kids. That’s why 6 out of 10 parents wanted their kids to learn Python over French.

Python became a go-to language for education and training in web development because of its simplicity. Meaning, there are lots of young and eager developers ready to put their skills to use. Chances are, you will always find a professional, no matter how tight or wide your budget is or what the specifics of your project are. 

Data Science, Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence

According to SlashData, 69% of machine learning developers and data developers use Python. And only 24% of them use R, another programming language used for statistical computing and data specifically. Why? 

Because it’s easy and fast. Lots of data scientists come from fields of statistics or mathematics, and they can’t afford to spend years learning how to code. Entering the data science field, they need a quick and accessible solution, so they could easily code different parts of the project.

With Python, every idea or direction of the project gets verified fast and effortlessly. Testing new hypotheses could never be finished using 500 KB boilerplate code in Java, while in Python almost every idea can be validated through 20-30 lines of code. 

Python’s Advantages 

Now, it’s time to dive deeper into Python characteristics and explore which advantages make this language so attractive for companies in so many fields. 

1. A wide and vibrant community 

Python became the top programming language and took 32% of the market share in the US in 2021. What’s in it for you? It won’t be hard to find a Python developer to support your long-term project. While with other programming languages, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a developer that will match your budget and needs. 

Take our clients for example. They reached us to find out whether we know any developers working with Go and Elixir. We asked around the local developers’ community but didn’t find a single developer working with either of these programming languages. 

We communicated it to our clients and explained that their project could be done with Python instead of Go or Elixir, without any restrictions to it. What is more, we had a team of developers ready to start working on it any minute. In the end, the clients chose to go with Python and were 100% satisfied with the result.

If you decide on Python, chances are there will be more than one team of developers ready to work on your project. And then, you could decide who to hire, based on the specifics of the project and budget.

2. Productivity 

With Python, you can get more things done while writing less code. Its simplicity and extensive library make developers more productive in comparison with those who code in another language. 

For example, we spent almost 2.5 months on our own product, SocialInsight.io, which is an Instagram SaaS app to automate post scheduling. If we’d code the backend in Java/Spring instead of Python/Django then we’d roughly spent 3.5-4 months on it.

Why spend more money and time if you can cut it by choosing Python? 

3. Multi-paradigm approach

Python is a multi-paradigm programming language. What does it mean for you? 

The language supports object-oriented and structured programming as well as functional and aspect-oriented programming. It means that Python’s codebase is easier to support, and it needs less time on refactoring and keeping long-term projects in shape. Also, your code debt will grow slower in comparison with other programming languages. 

As a project founder, you will reduce time on feature refactors and codebase improvements, cutting the costs. 

4. Broad library support

Python offers extensive libraries that include ready-to-use code for various purposes, from unit-testing and threading to image manipulation and a lot more. Having a lot of code pre-written, your developers will spend less time on the project, and you will spend less money on it. 

Python’s library support came in handy for us when working on the project Fortis. We needed to automate the system of a company UK Cardinalis that specializes in providing and delivering concrete. Within just six weeks, we developed the first version of the system. All because we utilized more than 10 Python libraries, covering more than half of the necessary functionality in code. 

Our developers concentrated on the integration of the existing code, modifying it to the specific needs of the project rather than creating one from scratch. This includes CSV import, pdf generator, integration with SAGE API, work with the database, and many more functions that would take a lot of time to code from scratch without library support. 

5. Portable

Python is developed under an OSI-approved open source license. Meaning, it can be used and distributed by anyone with any goal, including commercial use. Developers can download and modify it according to their needs and purposes. Python can also run on any machine, whether it’s Linux, Mac, or Windows. 

We recommend using open-source technologies and open-source OSs. For instance, Linux-based systems, such as Ubuntu. And don’t you worry if you need to install Python code on Windows or another OS. That can happen if your project requires the use of libraries, installing which is possible only on Windows. With Python, it won’t take a lot because it’s a cross-platform language. 

When working on our project ToDoo, it took six weeks to launch it on Linux. And in two days, it was also working on macOS and Windows. 

Meanwhile, coding in any other language, like C++, you will have to compile the code first, and code compiled on Linux will only run on Linux. Code compiled on Windows will only run on Windows. And compile code on different OS, you’ll also have to do a lot of tweaks to your C++ code, and also keep two versions of your codebase. 

With Python, your code once and run it anywhere. Even if you need to embed your project into an app that runs on a different language, Python makes it possible. 

6. Extensive list of third-party integrations

Lots of web applications require integration with popular businesses and services, such as Paypal, Stripe, or Freshbooks. For an app developer to add in this kind of storefront coding from scratch would be costly and time-consuming. 

Luckily, all of these services provide the API and software needed for that. Additionally, they usually provide developers with a ready-to-use library for different languages. This makes developers’ lives a lot easier. And if talking about Python, making use of an API provided by a third party is just a matter of a few fairly simple lines of code in it.

Python has libraries for the majority of those services. And your developers will spend less time coding integrations with other services. Python’s huge base of free libraries is a result of constant improvement by a passionate community of developers for the last two decades. For example, Python has ready-to-use libraries with Paypal, Stripe, Google, or Facebook

7. Asynchronous coding

Python allows for asynchronous coding, which sounds quite sophisticated but unclear, right? Long story short, asynchronous coding provides improved performance and responsiveness to your app. How does it work? 

Sometimes, data may take a long, long time to submit to a database. With asynchronous programming, the user can perform other actions while the data uploads. For example, you don’t have to stay on the same page when uploading photos to Instagram, right? Thank asynchronous coding for that. 

Asynchronous coding comes in handy when you need chat functionality in your app because it makes it easier to create such features as message sneak-peeks, notifications, chat transferring, and so on. 

8. Great for prototyping

Python allows you to do more with less code. You can build prototypes and test out different ideas a lot faster than in other programming languages. Prototyping provides more functionality and interactions, helps detect errors in early stages, and makes multiple tests possible before launching the project. 

We developed the ToDoo, an earlier mentioned project, in just five weeks. And we are talking about not just a prototype or a proof of concept, but about the full MPV. The same goes for Fortis, another project of ours that we developed in six weeks. 

9. Interpreted Language

Python is an interpreted language. It means that developers execute the code line by line. If the mistake arises, further execution immediately stops and reports back the error that occurred. 

In this way, developers don’t spend tons of time on long compilations during the development process and before running the app. Meaning, less dev time and lower budgets for you as a tech founder. 

10. Easy to read, learn, and use

Python is the second popular language on GitHub. As per GitHub’s repository, there are more than 2 million commits. Why? Because it’s easy to read, learn, and use. 

Python has a shorter learning curve than C++ or Java, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to start coding. There’s even a book Python for Kids, and it’s studied in schools all around the globe. So, it’s easy to become a pro in Python. 

For you, as a founder, it means there is a wider professional pool to choose from. There always will be a developer that will match your specific requirements and budget. Besides, if other developers have worked on your project before, it will be easier and faster for new ones to be looped in a process.

11. Scalability

Python is pretty scalable out of the box. Whenever you have to adjust the app to the new needs of your growing project, you can do it at once. 

In particular, the Django framework has a series of web components that allow building highly scalable apps. Each of the web components is independent of each other, so you can replace or unplug them depending on the project’s specific requirements. 

We have already mentioned the ToDoo project several times today, and it’s worth mentioning it once again. ToDoo is an online student cabinet app. For it, we configured six server setups, and with just 250$ monthly payment for these services at Digital Ocean, we could handle 10.000 active students online. Without any caching or complex performance tuning.

12. Security

As far as safety is concerned, it’s safe to say (pun intended) that Python is far more secure compared to other languages, such as PHP. For example, the Django framework includes a built-in security feature that protects your app from various kinds of security threats. 

Python ensures security in different ways. For example, encrypting Python source code is a method of “Python obfuscation”, which aims to store the source code in a form, unreadable by humans. Also, there are regular hotfix releases that patch up bugs or issues of the system. 

13. Small but efficient developers team

You need only a few developers to create a proof of concept if coding in Python. Meanwhile, other languages, like C++, require a bigger team and more time. 

There’s not a lot of written code, rather on the contrary. Add to that the extensive library support, and there’s no wonder why Python developers work so fast on so many tasks. 

With Python, the developers’ team can stay small and continue to produce high-quality code. At the same time, you will spend less money on salaries, which is a crucial factor for projects with a tight budget. 

14. Enterprise Application Integration

Python is the right choice not only for small and medium businesses but also for enterprise automation. Enterprise software often needs to integrate with legacy systems, such as databases or non-web applications. Python is the right choice because of its security, simplicity, and scalability. 

Right now, we are working on a project for LifeChemicals. Our team needs to automate the company where 200+ employees work. As usual, we use Python, and the process is smooth and efficient. 

Python’s Disadvantages

We believe that the key to success lies in using the right tools for specific goals. Python is a great choice for lots of projects and tasks, but it’s not perfect for everything (like nothing in life).

So, let’s talk about the cases where Python wouldn’t be the first choice for a project. 

Speed Drawbacks

Python (as most of the other programming languages) is an interpreted one, not a compiled one. What does it mean? That it has tons of beneficial aspects, described above, but also certain speed limitations. 

Interpreted languages are usually slower than compiled ones. That being said, it is easily solved by additional resources on the servers. You can also speed the process up by cashing and other instruments. Speed drawbacks used to be a huge issue a couple of decades ago, but those times are long gone. Nowadays, the power of modern technologies allows us to make up for it. 

In our experience, we’ve built over 200 projects with millions of users and managed to successfully optimize the speed of Python apps. Besides, other popular programming languages, such as Ruby or JavaScript are also interpreted, with the same speed issues.

Design limitations

Python is a dynamically typed language, which means that some mistakes or errors cannot be detected right away. It calls for more testing and verification throughout the process. On the bright side, additional time spent on that will even itself out due to other features of Python that we described above. 

Not the best fit for mobile applications

In most cases, you won’t find only a Python-based solution to write a mobile app itself. Developers still use Python for mobile apps, but mainly to develop REST API-based backend. We usually develop mobile apps with Javascript/React Native hybrid approach and still use Python/Django for the REST API-based backend.  

Memory use

Yes, it’s true, Python’s memory consumption is rather high. It can cause certain inconveniences when working with memory-intensive tasks. At the same time, Python is extremely flexible in terms of its data types, which serves as a plus for some projects. 

When working on high memory consumption tasks, the key is to put those tasks in a background mode. And we tend to put Celery jobs workers for these tasks and handle them in asynchronous mode. 

Sum Up 

Here, at SoftFormance, we were using Python right from the start. For the last decade, Python has always been our go-to language, and we didn’t regret it once. 

Python started as a side project of Guido van Rossum in the late 1980s. It turned out to be one of the most popular programming languages used to build web applications and seek solutions for machine learning. 

With Python, we’ve built 200+ projects, from marketplaces and SaaS to social media platforms, CRMs, and artificial intelligence tools. For more than a decade, Python complied with all our needs and continues to serve as an excellent tool to carry out small and large-scale projects. 

If you need some help or advice on developing a project or simply want to learn more about Python features, feel free to contact us! Our specialists will get back to you in no time and consult on anything you need to know.

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