By: Doug Bonderud
May 1, 2020
Python and SQL: The Importance of Doubling Down
By: Doug Bonderud
May 1, 2020
The digital skills gap continues to widen as companies look to shore up expanding tech departments with talented IT professionals. And while high-profile proficiencies in areas such as cloud computing and big data analytics remain top enterprise priorities, there’s also a growing need for a more fundamental skillset: Programming.
As noted by Business.com, two of the top programming preferences for organizations include object-oriented language Python and database development solution SQL. But which skill comes out on top? Which is worth the right-now time and resource investment and which can wait until later in your IT career?
In this piece we’ll break down SQL and Python basics, examine some potential training pathways — and make the case for doubling down on these critical coding techniques.
Leveraging the SQL Solution
SQL stands for “structured query language” and gained prominence as a more cost-effective and easier-to-learn replacement for COBOL. Unlike object-oriented languages which are used to develop and build applications, SQL is a relational language designed for database management. It’s now the most popular language used by organizations to create, read, update and delete database operations, and helps streamline the process of finding information in databases at scale. SQL can also be used to add new databases and reorder current database structures for increased accessibility.
SQL leverages four key features for database management:
Queries — Typically defined by the SELECT command and modified by FROM, WHERE or ORDER BY statements, queries are used to find information in relational databases.
Data manipulation language (DML) — DML lets database administrators add, update or delete information using a SELECT statement subset.
Data definition language (DDL) — DDL helps manage tables and indexes with the CREATE, ALTER, TRUNCATE and DROP commands.
Data control language (DCL) — DCL lets you assign or revoke database access permissions with the GRANT and REVOKE commands.
If you’re looking to learn SQL, you’ve got options. There are free materials available online which can help jump-start your SQL skills development and provide the knowledge you need to write effective SELECT statements. Once you’ve mastered the basics, however, it’s often worth considering more in-depth online training courses that provide expert instruction and clearly-defined learning modules.
Unpacking the Python Potential
Programmers have been using Python for more than three decades to write and develop applications. While this history effectively makes Python a senior citizen in rapidly-changing technology environments, it remains one of the most in-demand programming skills.
Python offers three key benefits that make it a priority for many developers:
Simplicity — Python comes with a simple, easy-to-learn syntax that focuses on readability and ease-of-use. This allows developers to quickly gain basic Python knowledge and start creating applications.
Scalability — As noted by the official Python website, this language supports both modules and packages, allowing developers to easily scale or shift applications on-demand — code can be quickly ported to new platforms or reused with only minor modifications. In addition, all Python libraries are freely available in both source and binary formats.
Speed — Python prioritizes development speed by eliminating the compilation step, in turn making the edit-test-debug process extremely fast. Errors don’t cause segmentation faults; instead they raise exceptions that can be easily identified and remediated.
Given the popularity of Python and its continuing use at the forefront of application development, it’s no surprise that a wide variety of introductory, intermediate and advanced coding courses are now available online, making it possible for prospective programmers to quickly discover the power of Python.
Why Learn Both?
Python is now used for a host of application development operations from video games to web applications to enterprise utilities. But it’s also gaining ground in up-and-coming disciplines including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Given the complexity of these tech initiatives, the simplicity and speed of Python programming make it the perfect fit: Code can be quickly developed, tested and modified to suit evolving AI and ML applications.
SQL, meanwhile, is the de facto standard for dealing with data at scale.As relational databases become the lynchpin in effective big data analytics, SQL skills allow IT professionals to quickly locate, verify and leverage key datasets on-demand to provide actionable insight.
Alone, either of these skills is valuable — organizations are looking for both in new hires as they build out new applications and invest in data analytics. Together, they’re virtually unstoppable: IT experts trained in both SQL and Python possess the ability to take cutting-edge applications from the design and development stage through testing, implementation and data analysis. Python offers the speed necessary to complete projects on time and scale them up to meet growing AI demand, while SQL provides the specificity needed to identify key database demands and implement key permission and management changes.
Coding skills are in demand. Double down and stand out from the IT crowd with by pairing SQL and Python skills.