Programming Basics with Python

Programming Basics with Python

Feb 13, 2023   ·  2 min read

Before you start learning Python, I recommend first learning some basics about programming in general.

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NOTE: This article was inspired by my much larger article on Learn How to Program in Python.

Programming languages like Python continue to evolve each day, but the underlying mechanics that they abstract away remain ever-green. Knowing some basics of those underlying mechanics can help you more easily layer new tools and languages on top of your understanding. Those tools and languages often times will rotate to newer and better ones throughout the years, but the foundation remains constant.

First off, let's cover some basics that are easy to overlook when starting to learn how to program. Ultimately, programming boils down to a bunch of ones and zeros, true or false, if and else. That's it! But it's a lot easier said than done.

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These ones and zeroes are referred to as "binary," which is essentially the language that computers speak and understand. To make it easier for us humans, we can speak to a computer through the use of higher-level programming languages, like Python, that translate our input into the binary that a computer can understand.

Having a rough idea of how Python translates to binary can be helpful context as you start learning the language. There's a lot that can be said about that, but just keep the following diagram in mind for now.

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Python code is usually saved in .py files.  When you install Python, you'll have a program on your computer called  python. This program is called the "interpreter" and its job is to look at your Python code, compile it to bytecode and serialize that into machine readable code (e.g., binary) that your computer can understand and then execute. This moment is often referred to as "runtime," which is a word you'll sometimes hear throughout your learning.

There are several styles of programming out there. The most common are object-oriented programming, functional programming, and procedural programming. Each of these styles are available options when programming in Python, though the language is primarily known as an object-oriented programming language. Everything in Python is treated as "objects," which can contain data and/or code: data, in the form of fields, and code, in the form of procedures.

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