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Features of Python

Python reflects a number of growing trends in software development. It is a very simple language surrounded by a vast library of add-on modules. It is an open source project, supported by dozens of individuals. It is an object-oriented language. It is a platform-independent, scripted language, with complete access to operating system API's. It supports integration of complex solutions from pre-built components. It is a dynamic language, allowing more run-time flexibility than statically compiled languages.

Additionally, Python is a scripting language with full access to Operating System (OS) services. Consequently, Python can create high level solutions built up from other complete programs. This allows someone to integrate applications seamlessly, creating high-powered, highly-focused meta-applications. This kind of very-high-level programming (programming in the large) is often attempted with shell scripting tools. However, the programming power in most shell script languages is severely limited. Python is a complete programming language in its own right, allowing a powerful mixture of existing application programs and unique processing to be combined.

Python includes the basic text manipulation facilities of Awk or Perl. It extends these with extensive OS services and other useful packages. It also includes some additional data types and an easier-to-read syntax than either of these languages.

Python has several layers of program organization. The Python package is the broadest organizational unit; it is collection of modules. The Python module, analogous to the Java package, is the next level of grouping. A module may have one or more classes and free functions. A class has a number of static (class-level) variables, instance variables and methods. We'll lookl at these layers in detail in appropriate sections.

Some languages (like COBOL) have features that are folded into the language itself, leading to a complicated mixture of core features, optional extensions, operating-system features and special-purpose data structures or algorithms. These poorly designed languages may have problems with portability. This complexity makes these languages hard to learn. One hint that a language has too many features is that a language subset is available. Python suffers from none of these defects: the language has only 21 statements (of which five are declaratory in nature), the compiler is simple and portable. This makes the the language is easy to learn, with no need to create a simplified language subset.

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