How hard is Python?

I have the possibility of getting a job with IBM, during the job they will be training me on Python. Python is something I’ve never used and have only heard of the name. I have very little VB 6 knowledge with a good amount of HTML and XHTML knowledge. IBM also wants someone with a VERY good knowledge of windows and it’s registry, which I have being a lead tech for the past 4 1/2 years. The only down side I see about the job is that it’s a contract for 3months with a chance of being longer.

Anyways before I got to ahead of myself I wanted to see what Python is and how hard it is to learn. Would anyone be so kind to enlighten me?


Not too many python programmers here. From my experience, if you don’t have any programming experince python will be somewhat challenging to pick up at first. It’s not as easy to use as PHP. However, it’s not that difficult in general and if you’re geared towards programming, you’ll find it to be very powerful and will become a python zealot like every other python user. :slight_smile:

Python’s not too difficult if you understand OOP and keep in mind that whitespace matters. I’ve only played around with it a few times, but it seemed easy enough to catch on with.

To me Python is a great beginner programmer language. There are a ton of resources for it.

That’s just a few to start you off (should keep you busy for a while). is your best friend. There are some great introductory articles and examples there as well as little tutorials that teach how to use some of Python’s more advanced features.

I will have to agree with Hartmann. I think Python is a great beginner language. You will find that I have recommended Python to others on this board that are looking to get started in programming.

For one, Python has a very clear syntax. The format is different than most languages, such as the use of tab spaces (indentation). Tab spaces actually mean something in Python as compared to other languages (Tabs are used for more than readability of source code). The language comes with an IDE called IDLE and has an interactive mode, which I find is a great tool for trying out code on the fly.

The key to learning Python or any language for that matter is summed up in 3 key attributes:

1. Desire to learn
2. Patience
3. Dedictation

My advice is to learn Python. While it has a different syntax than other OOP languages, there are a lot of companies that use and or require you to have knowledge of the language before you are hired. Google, first and foremost comes to mind on the requirement. Companies including Microsoft and Nasa, you Python to prototype and model applications because of the simplicity of reading the source code and the rapid development you can obtain with Python.

While Python is not as popular as say Perl to the general programmer, rest assured that the BIG companies either require or use the Python language and look to see if that language is on your resume.

Hope the information I provided was of assistance to you.

Best wishes on your contract with IBM.


No worries about Python, it’s a very friendly programming langauge, and you get to safely leave braces {} and semicolons; behind. You’ll never have an error in a Python program due to mismatched braces or a missing semicolon.

And easy things are very easy to do in Python. Very complicated things, on the other hand, are very easy to approach in an organized manner in Python (which is a big part of the battle with bigger challenges, IMO).

If you’re comparing to PHP, Python has more strength as an application, cgi, or scripting language, but doesn’t provide the same convenience as PHP to do dynamic web page tasks - unless you use one of the PHP like modules or web frameworks built with Python… even so, PHP has a sweet spot for webpage-embedded coding… I’d say its the best tool for that job.

Python is easy to build real programs with, small or large. It is different than Java or C++, but these differences were developed very much on purpose, and they can make Java/C++ seem like using an abacus (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

On another level, there are some extremely bright programmers who’s Python code is exceedingly sublime and sophisticated… for the rest of us, the best chance of getting that good is using a programming language as clean as Python.

Yeah, I’m a big fan of Python - it makes writing code more fun and productive - though of course other programming languages have their place (C++ for speed, PHP for embedding in webpages, Perl for confounding otherwise intelligent people with its syntax and unlimited ways to count to 2…)

If you use Python at IBM, I’ll bet you end up loving it. Might you on computer.languages.python where the crowd is pretty friendly relative to the rest of Usenet?


As one who’s earned a living at software for many, many, years, I’ve been most successful staying in the mainstream of software tools rather than drifting too far away from those languages and tools with the most market demand. I’ve also learned that once you’ve figured out one programming language and associated methodology, and have developed a sense of how they all work, picking up another is no real trick. This is not to say that practice and experience solving problems in that language won’t make you better.

That said, don’t worry about Python per se, concentrate on whether or not you want to work for IBM, and if, once you become a Python expert, there’s a market for those skills beyond IBM. I know of many people who jumped on the Pascal, SmallTalk, and LISP bandwagons many years ago, only to find that, while hot technologies in their days, they didn’t go mainstream as did C, C++, Java, and now ASP, PHP, .NET, et al.

Note that I didn’t address how difficult or easy it is to learn Python, because that’s really secondary to other concerns, and the Python learning curve will, I’m sure, be more fully addressed by others in this forum.