A lot of beginning developers hear the word Python being used, and they want to know what Python is in Web development. Python is a programming language interface that gets its name from the comedy group Monty Python, because its creators were big fans of groups popular movies. Because it’s an interface, it has many implementations, the most common one being the CPython implementation written in C. Other implementations include Jython, written in Java, and IronPython, which focuses on the .NET framework.
Python’s Role in Web Development
In Web development, Python is used as a scripting language, which means that it needs a compatibility layer between the Python application and the Web server, and depending on the server software being used, interfaces such as Common Gateway Interface, FastCGI and WSGI can be used. The fastest and most versatile python interface is WSGI, and in general, it’s the one that should be used, according to Python. The only problem with this interface is that it only works with the Apache Web server, but since Apache is the most common server software, WSGI is usually compatible.
It’s not necessary to understand the details about Python being an interface with many implementations or that it requires additional software to communicate with the Web server. A lot of Python programmers don’t know that Python isn’t the package called python2.7 that they downloaded with their package managers. Python is a set of rules for how the Python programming language should work, and CPython is the most common implementation of these rules. When you download Python 2.7 or Python 3.4, you’re usually downloading CPython.
Because Python needs some kind of compatibility layer to communicate with the Web server, most people write Python Web apps using a framework such as Django, Flask or Bottle. For small apps, Django can be overkill, and sometimes all that’s needed is to write a Python program and execute it using WSGI on a Web page. This setup would be ideal for a small program that simply outputs the results of a function to which a user can pass arguments.
Compilers Vs. Interpreters
For big Web apps that require databases to store data, Django is the most common Python framework. Django has its own project structure and template programming language, and it uses the design pattern called model-template-view, or MTV. This pattern is essentially the same concept as model-view-controller, or MVC, which is the most common application design pattern because it allows users to interact with data through a graphical user interface.
Naturally, Django apps are written in Python, and they can execute code using Jython, PyPy and other Python implementations. Regardless of the implementation, Python code always looks the same, and it has a very simple, concise syntax that delimits statements with lines and tabulations rather than the semicolons and curly braces used in C-like languages such as PHP, Java and C++. Because it runs in an interpreter and not directly on the CPU, Python is slower than compiled languages like C++ and Java.
Related Resource: Django
If you’re a computer science or Web design student just beginning to learn about programming frameworks, Web server modules and application design patterns, Python is one of the most fun languages to start using. To find out more about what Python is, read the extensive documentation on the Python website.