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How to update Python and how to know if you should
Knowing how to update Python is important if you want to ensure you have access to the latest features, bug-fixes, and security. So how do you keep up with the times? This post will show you how.
Also read: How to round in Python
The easy part: how to update Python
Updating Python is the easy part. Simply head over to the website and then download the latest version of the interpreter:
This will download an installer, and when you run that file, you’ll be taken through the next steps. Seeing as you want to know how to update Python, chances are high you already have an older version installed on your machine. In that case, you will be prompted to update and… that’s it.
If you don’t already have Python installed on your machine, then you should check out our guide for that here:
What version of Python should you use?
At the time of writing, the newest version of Python is Python 3.9.1. This provides a number of bug fixes over previous versions and some security updates. It was released last October.
If you’re planning on learning Python, this is the version that you should use. So what is the confusion?
Well, for a long time, there was a debate in the coding community as to whether developers should learn Python 2 or Python 3. This confusion stemmed from the fact that, although Python 3 was newer, a lot of modules, frameworks, documentation, and even organizations had not made the switch.
For example, the Google App Engine is a service that allows developers to create web apps using Python and other tools that will run across multiple Google-managed data centers. Sites like Khanacademy.org use Google App Engine, for example.
Also read: What is Python and how do you get started?
Until two years ago, Google App Engine only supported Python 2. Therefore, if you wanted to build an app that ran on this service, you needed to use Python 2 and not Python 3.
The fact that Python 2.7 was the “endpoint” also helped in many cases where modules hadn’t caught up to the latest version of Python 3.
But things are different now. Python is far less fragmented than it used to be, and support for Python 2.7 has now officially ended.
That means that it would be wisest for any new developer to start with Python 3. Moreover, developers currently working with Python 2 should probably make the switch as well.
There are many ways that Python 3 is superior:
- Python 3 has better Unicode support
- Python 3 supports typing which can be useful for large, complex projects
- Newer versions of Python are typically faster
- There is now greater community support for Python 3
- Small syntax changes make Python 3 slightly easier for beginners
So now you know how to update Python to the latest version, it’s time to get your hands on Python 3! Next, why not take your learning further with an online course?
A great choice for beginners is Python for Everybody. You can find this and many other courses over at our guide to the best online Python courses.