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Python and Its Community Enter a New Phase

On Python's BDFL Guido van Rossum, his dedication to the Python community, PEP 572 and hope for a healthy outcome for the language, open source and the computing world in general.

Python is an amazing programming language, there's no doubt about it. From humble beginnings in 1991, it's now just about everywhere. Whether you're doing web development, system administration, test automation, devops or data science, odds are good that Python is playing a role in your work.

Even if you're not using Python directly, odds are good that it is being used behind the scenes. Using OpenStack? Python plays an integral role in its development and configuration. Using Dropbox on your computer? Then you've got a copy of Python running on your computer. Using Linux? When I purchased Red Hat Linux back in 1995, the configuration was a breeze—thanks to visual tools developed in Python.

And, of course, there are numerous schools and educational programs that are now teaching Python. MIT's intro computer science course switched several years ago from Scheme to Python, and thousands of universities all over the world made a similar switch in its wake. My 15-year-old daughter participates in a program for technology and entrepreneurship—and she's learning Python.

There currently is an almost insatiable demand for Python developers. Indeed, Stack Overflow reported last year that Python is not only the most popular language on its site, but it's also the fastest-growing language. I can attest to this popularity in my own job as a freelance Python trainer. Some of the largest computer companies in the world are now using Python on a regular basis, and their use of the language is growing, not shrinking.

Normally, a technology with this much impact would require a large and active marketing department. But Python is (of course) open-source software, and its success is the result of a large number of contributors—to the core language, to its documentation, to libraries and to the numerous blogs, tutorials, articles and videos available online. I often remind my students that people often think of "open source" as a synonym for "free of charge", but that they should instead think of it as a synonym for "powered by the community"—and there's no doubt that the Python community is strong.

Such a strong community doesn't come from nowhere. And there's no doubt that Guido van Rossum, who created Python and has led its development ever since, has been a supremely effective community organizer and leader.

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