Python for Web Development

If you're looking at adding a new language into your web development toolkit, you can’t go wrong with Python.
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Python Web Development

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Python has been around since the early 90s and has become a staple of web developers across the globe. As an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose language, Python’s design philosophy encourages code readability and uses an object-oriented approach for clear, logical code for projects of all sizes.

Python is used in nearly every industry, from science, finance, startups, retail, manufacturing, entertainment, and everything in between. One of the reasons why Python is so popular (besides its simplicity) is that it was built to be extensible. Instead of having all functionality built into the core, Python uses many modules, libraries, and frameworks to make it an incredibly flexible and powerful language.

It should come as no surprise that Python is also one of the most popular languages on the planet. But why? It’s not just because Python is such a flexible language, but because Python is incredibly easy to learn. For that reason, many new to the world of software engineering make this particular language their first. 

All of that should be enough to convince you to take a look at Python, especially if you’re in web development. Here’s why. 

 

Is Python used for Web development? 

According to a 2020 Stack Overflow survey, Python is used by 41.6% of professional developers, putting it fourth place (behind JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and SQL). That’s because Python is used for a number of different purposes, including scientific computing, big data, science, AI, machine learning, and scripting. However, the most popular use for Python is general web development and building web applications. 

As we’ve stated, Python is quite easy to learn. This is a serious benefit. And considering many are first introduced to the world of code by way of HTML and CSS (which are both very simplistic languages), it makes perfect sense that Python would make for a great second step. It also helps that Python easily integrates with HTML, which renders it a perfect tool for web development. 

 

Why is Python good for web development? 

There are a number of reasons why Python is good for web development. Some of those reasons include:

  • More with less. Thanks to an extensive library, Python allows you to build more functions with less code. So you spend your time being productive and not re-inventing the wheel.
  • It’s very hard to mess up with Python. Because of the very foundation of Python, you are less likely to make mistakes while programming with the language. And because it’s an interpreted language, you know what your mistakes are very quickly.
  • It makes building prototypes simple. 
  • The Python/Django combination is very popular in the finance industry.
  • Python has a number of integrations with other languages (such as C, Java, .NET, Objective-C, and Ruby)
  • There are plenty of frameworks available (such as Django and Flask).
  • Python works well with IoT.

 

How can I learn web development in Python? 

Learning Python is actually quite simple. Because it’s an interpreted language, code doesn’t have to be compiled. So all you do is write your code and run it, and you’ll know right away if you’ve made any errors. One of the best ways to get started with Python is to install it and read through the official Python Beginners Guide. You’ll even find beginner guides for non-programmers listed.

However, beyond just learning the Python language, you’ll also need to learn about frameworks and how to use them with Python.

What is a Framework? Simply put, a framework is a platform for developing software applications. With regards to Python, the framework is a means to develop web applications that include libraries and other types of code such that developers don’t have to write everything from scratch. 

 

Python web development with Django 

The most popular Python framework is Django, which is a free, open-source web framework that follows the Model Template Views architecture. Django is one of the oldest frameworks still in use today and is responsible for making over 12,000 active projects a reality. And because Django covers the full web development stack, it’s often a one-stop-shop for web developers. 

 

Python web development projects 

There are quite a lot of large companies using Python for a number of projects. Some of the top companies include:

  • Industrial Light and Magic uses Python to control a massive production pipeline.
  • Google App Engine is written in Python.
  • Instagram uses Python/Django extensively.
  • Spotify uses Python for data analysis.
  • Netflix uses Python to re-enforce machine learning.
  • Dropbox’s entire stack was written in Python.
  • Stripe uses Python to develop APIs.

 

Python web page example

To create a sample Python web page, you’d need a Linux server running Apache. You would also need to install Apache and the necessary dependency with the command:

sudo apt-get install apache2 libapache2-mod-python -y

With everything installed, create a new configuration file with the command:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/python.conf

In that file, paste the following:

LoadModule python_module /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_python.so

<Directory /var/www/html/python>

    AddHandler mod_python .py

    PythonHandler hello

    PythonDebug On

</Directory>

Save and close the file.

Enable the configuration with the command:

sudo a2ensite python

Enable the Python Apache module with the command:

sudo a2enmod python

Restart Apache with the command:

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Create a new directory with the command:

sudo mkdir /var/www/html/python

Create a new file in that directory with the command:

sudo nano /var/www/html/python/hello.py

Paste the following in that new file:

from mod_python import apache

def handler(req):

    req.content_type = ‘text/plain’

    req.write(“Hello, World!”)

    return apache.OK

The above code uses Python to print out the text “Hello, World!” in the browser. Save and close the file. Change the ownership of that file with the command:

sudo chown www-data:www-data /var/www/html/python/hello.py

Point a web browser to http://SERVER_IP/python/hello.py

You should now see Hello, World! printed out in your web browser. 

Congratulations, you’ve just created your first web page using Python.

 

Conclusion 

If you’re looking at adding a new language into your web development toolkit, you can’t go wrong with Python. Not only is it quite easy to use, but it’s also flexible, powerful, and employed by companies around the globe. Once you have a solid understanding of this language, you could find yourself working with one of the many outsource development companies who are always searching for the best talent available.

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