Python has been around for almost 3 decades and has remained one of the most widely used general coding languages. Because of its accessibility and wide use, many projects are still using Python 2, which was released back in 2000. It was supposed to be discontinued in 2015 but the date was pushed back to polish a new version as well as give developers more time to get ready for the migration.
The date has finally come. On January 1st 2020, Python 2 finally lost support. Any projects that haven’t been brought over to Python 3 will still work just fine for the time being. The biggest issue will be maintaining any old Python 2 projects as much of the support has been dropped and will continue to dwindle as time goes on.
Here are the best reasons why you should move to the newest version of the popular programming language.
5 Reasons to Switch from Python 2 to Python 3
1. Third Party Collection Support
One of the highly touted features of Python is its extensive library of third party packages. These packages and frameworks are usually the reason many people will hold off on upgrading since they usually need time to retrain with the newest version.
In the case of Python 2 however, many developers have stated their interest in dropping support for Python 2, if they haven’t done so already. Developers make this decision to prevent overtime hours by keeping new updates compatible with older Python versions. This means that you should not expect too many updates to Python 2 libraries anymore.
If you decide to stick with Python 2 past its end date, you will have to pay extra attention to the security of any project still in maintenance mode. The upkeep will be relatively simple and just involves you having to apply unofficial patches, possibly even manually, if your distribution is not supported in the long term.
Third party dependencies will be unpleasant to maintain because they will be losing support assuming they haven’t already. If you happen to find any vulnerabilities, it might be a good idea to upgrade to Python 3 since you’ll be on your own with no support to help with any arbitrary vulnerabilities.
3. Developer Support
Python 2 will be totally outdated in the near future. At its best, it will keep a cult following. Regardless of its outcome, most developers won’t want to keep support of an archaic piece of tech since that isn’t a good use of their talent.
If you continue to use Python 2 as it ages, one of the largest obstacles you’ll come across is finding developers that are willing to support your project. Sticking with Python 2 will leave you walking a precarious path with fewer developers willing to work on outdated projects.
4. New Features
The core library in Python 3 has some worthwhile new features that make upgrading pretty necessary. One favorite quality of life change is unicode representation. Rather than having to mark a string with a ‘u’ to mark it as unicode, Python 3 stores strings as unicode by default. In addition, the newest version of Python also includes:
- New syntax and keywords
- Type safety improvements
- Native asynchronous programming
- New modules in the standard library
- Mandatory print function changes
These are just a small sample of the addition you are missing out on with Python 2. Future support has been solid with Python 3 with regular updates being implemented.
5. Performance Benefits
This last reason to switch to Python 3 is obvious but needs to be said. There are considerable performance benefits. Startup times have been vastly improved along with HTML rendering speeds. One of the best examples of these improvements comes from Instagram. They have seen a 12% improvement to their CPU performance after migrating to Python 3 as well as a 30% improvement in memory management. Some of the newer performance updates have brought faster os.fwalk, str.find() and regular expressions just to name just a few.
Going forward, it is highly recommended you migrate to Python 3 if you have not done so already. If you continue to use Python 2 on a project, it will negatively affect your product over time. Make the switch! We understand it can be a daunting task to make such a migration but your workflow and applications will be infinitely better off.
If you still have yet to take the leap, we recommend this article on porting your projects to Python 3: docs.python.org/3/howto/pyporting.html