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Python’s popularity is growing the quickest among programming languages. This means more and more employers are looking for developers, data scientists and analysts that know how to program Python and take advantage of its many open source libraries. If you just started learning Python or are aiming to start anytime soon, then you most probably benefit from checking out the three tips listed in this article. They will speed up your learning process and will help you become a savvy Python developer.
Arguably, there are two types of Python programmers, i.e. those whose main task is to analyze data sets and those whose aim is to develop software. Depending on which type of programmer you belong to, calls to Pandas methods might be more or less present in your scripts. There is no doubt Pandas is a great tool for data manipulation and analysis. However, there are two reasons why limiting its usage might benefit you in the short- and long-run.
First, Pandas is a wrapper and, by definition, one of its two primary purposes is to hide the complexity of underlying routines. Therefore, while using Pandas you might not be getting enough opportunities to learn about Python’s native datatypes. Native datatypes are the most basic datatypes in Python. The term native means they are pre-defined in Python and can be used directly in a program. Since there is much more to Python than Pandas, understanding Python’s native datatypes and their methods will help you understand other people’s code quicker and will steepen your learning curve.
Second, Pandas will get you lazy. While there is no single doubt modules such as Pandas will help you get things done quickly, they might be getting you too comfortable. Sooner or later you will have to get your hands dirty. The more you code without the use of modules such as Pandas, the better you will be prepared to tackle any coding challenge in the future.
We all have been in there… You are working on a program and suddenly realize one element of the program will take longer than expected to code. Therefore, you decide to test your luck and search the internet for an open source solution to your problem. Voila…!! You found a module that does exactly what you need.
There is no doubt we all benefit from open source modules. However, you will benefit even more from them if you take your time to explore them and understand the code behind their wrappers. A good way to do this would be to search for the source code, copy it into some scripts and import whatever needed into your projects. Then, with the help of a good debugger and breakpoints, you will quickly understand the code behind the wrappers.
Finally, the debugger. This might be the most important piece of advise you can receive when starting your journey as a developer regardless of the programming language you are learning. The main use of a debugger is to run the target program under controlled conditions that will allow you to track its operations in progress. Many integrated development environments (IDEs) such as Spyder or Visual Studio Code offer debugging functionalities. Depending on your needs, you might prefer using an IDE over others. A discussion on the differences across IDEs will be left for another day. For now, remember that you might want to choose an IDE in which you can easily track operations in progress. This will help you understand precisely what is happening at each part of your program.
Visual Studio Code might not be the most intuitive IDE for beginners, but it offers excellent debugging functionalities. Arguably, the most powerful functionality of a debugger are breakpoints. Breakpoints are intentional stopping or pausing places in a program, put in place for debugging purposes. They are means of acquiring knowledge about a program during its execution.
Python is a great programming language. If you recently started learning to program, then you should rest assured you have already taken a good decision by choosing Python as your programming language of choice. Hopefully, these three pieces of advise will help you get up to speed quicker!
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