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What is the difference between Python 2 and Python 3?

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Programming languages come in all forms. Some happen to be a bit more complicated and others tend to be more beginner-friendly. They also come in numerous versions and that’s where things tend to get real finicky. You see, two versions of a programming language can be largely similar but will have some minor changes here and there that can wreak havoc on test and production environments alike. 

One such example is Python 2 and Python 3. While both are quite similar and if you know Python 2 you’ll immediately pick Python 3 up, there are subtle differences and there that can catch you napping. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how the two versions are different from each other and which one should you pick?

What is the difference between Python 2 and Python 3?

Also read: What’s the difference between C and C++?

So what’s the difference?

In layman terms, Python 3 is the future of Python. The language was initially released back in 2000 with Python 3 rolling out in 2008. Yes, Python 3 came out 12 years ago.

At first glance, you won’t find a lot of differences and that’s because there aren’t any. However, there’s a lot going on under the hood. 

Key differences

Since it’s quite hard to categorise differences together, we’re just focussing on the major differences between the two coding languages

Python 3Python 2
Easier to understand syntaxComparatively difficult syntax
Exceptions must be enclosed in parenthesisExceptions must be enclosed in notations
range() function for iterations.xrange() function for iterations
Stores strings in Unicode by defaultNeed to save in Unicode explicitly
Rules of ordering comparisons are simpleRules of ordering comparisons are comparatively complex
Variables don’t change values unless specifiedGlobal variable changes value when used in for loop
Print statement is print (“hello”)Print statement is: print “hello”

There are a lot of other differences under the hood as well that give Python 3 the edge over the former version.

Also read: Top 7 coding games

So which one should you use?

In 2020, unless you’re working with a piece of code that exclusively requires you to work with Python 2, there’s no reason to even touch the version. It’s deprecated and support for it will be dropped soon.

Python 3 is much more robust, easy to use and is the future of Python going forward. 

Also read: Top 10 programming languages to learn in 2019

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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