Python is more than just a programming language. It is the top preference of developers, fundamental of machine learning along with many other things. When Guido van Rossum created Python in the 1990s, seldom did he know that his creation would gain so much popularity around the world and turn out to be the most widely used programming language one day. Be it the flexibility of language, open-source nature or ease of understanding. Python is the developer’s favorites for more than one reason.
Taking a look back at the year, 2019 has been Python’s year in many ways. To begin with, it beat JAVA to become the world’s most popular programming language as per the IEEE top programming languages rakings. Another reason why Python made news this year was that its version 2 is at its end of life. Python 2 is retiring as we step into the New Year on January 1, 2020. This day forward there will be no further updates released to Python 2 and there will be no security fixes even if someone finds a security issue with it.
With half a month left for the year to end, organizations must do something if they want their applications to stay relevant. But, even though Python 2’s retirement was announced way back in 2014, a majority of organizations are still hooked onto it and never moved to the latest version. And there are many reasons why this has happened. When Guido Van Rossum first announced back in 2014 that Python version 2 was coming to an end, 2020 felt quite distant. Most enterprises postponed the migration to Python 3, some didn’t like the new update while others just faced more than a few challenges in migration.
Python 3 faced an enormous amount of resistance from developers and enterprises all across the world. These were mainly because of the following reasons-
Even though Python 3 was launched in 2008, it was hard for the Python Software Foundation to convince people to migrate to this version. But, seldom did they notice that the new version was the language’s way to keep the evolution running forward. Python 3 along with a bunch of new features had major fixes to Python 2.
Watching not many organizations migrate to Python 3, Guido Van Rossum finally rung the alarm bell in March this year. He pointed out that there must be no games played with the semantics. The situation with Python 2.7 was clear as from January 1, 2020 there would be no updates, not even source-only security patches. In other words, support from the core devs, PSF and Python.org would completely cease to exist.
No matter how much you admire Python 2, as an organization, you will have to migrate to Python 3, either today or tomorrow. It is a do or die situation until you take a step in the direction. If you haven’t done anything till date to move your applications to Python 3, here are a few hacks you can try-
While it may seem a complex task, migrating to Python 3 is easier than the hype surrounding it. The best part is that Python’s official documentation has everything that you need to know to make the transition successfully. For the starters, you can use the ‘caniusepython3’ package to help identify the areas in your application that are hampering the migration to Python 3.
The sooner you accept the migration to Python 3, the better you will be able to implement the actual process. Start by analyzing your application and finding the smallest areas that have their dependencies on Python 2. Once you identify these, find compatible solutions to Python 3 and start rebuilding your application inside out. One of the biggest myths is that Python 3 is not backward compatible. It wasn’t in its initial days, but now that the migration problem is much better understood by experts and Python Software Foundation itself, migrating to Python 3 is easier than ever.
In case you want to stick to Python 3 for a longer period, you can simply purchase the extended support from third-party vendors. For example, Active State is a third-party vendor that offers commercial support to enterprises and developers who want to continue using Python 2. Alternatively, users can also buy products that have Python 2 as part of its presence in another supported product.
As a temporary solution, you can also switch to a different runtime for Python 2. Third-party runtimes like Cython, Tauthon, PyPy, and IronPython offer extended support window for the version, giving you some more time to prep up for Python 3.
Whether you like it or not, Python 3 is here as part of the next generation Python software development. Choosing to stay with Python 2 is ultimately your choice, but you will be putting in far more effort in its maintenance than innovating your application and understanding the demands of your customer. You can try these temporary solutions to buy yourself some time and start preparing for the transition as soon as possible. Sailing with technological advancements is the only way forward!