So you've decided take the yellow road to emerald city. Well, first of all, congrats. Turns out your journey will be easier than Dorothy's and to make your road as smooth as possible, I've compiled just the tutorial to get python up and running on your system. A process studded with hiccups and had me spending hours fixing up environmental variables, whatever those are. Guess environmental problems are not only caused by computers, but also live inside them. Learn something new everything everyday :) Okay enough messing around. Let's get started.
Python Meets Anaconda
Of course Mr. Python would be lonely without his good friend Sir Anaconda. Just to bridge this friendship gap, (and of course, to get python onto your system) we shall resort to the most download python package for data science. A package that will get you running complex (sinuous?) algorithms on your own computer in a matter of seconds. But first things first ...
Head over to anaconda's website: https://www.anaconda.com/distribution/ and download the latest version of Python 3 from their website. At the time of writing this tutorial, this happened to be python 3.7. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find the download option. Toggle between windows, maxOS, and Linux to find the correct installation option.
Step 2: Run the Installer
Most steps should be obvious and clicking next gets you through it. However, pay close attention to this extremely devious screen. Make sure you have the two boxes checked. I repeat. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE TWO BOXES CHECKED. Not doing so would make you close countless, and I mean countless hours, fixing environmental variables later. That too only to realize that all that effort was wasted and you have to reinstall again. So I repeat once again, at the risk of being repetitive, KEEP THE TWO BOXES CHECKED. Once you have done that, click install and the installer should handle everything else for you.
You may also see a screen prompting you to download VSCode. This is entirely up to you. If you have a more powerful computer and have a bit of experience programming, I would recommend holding off on this for now and downloading PyCharm instead. If you want a lightweight coding environment, go for it. I can attest to VSCode being one of the best editors out there.
Step 3: Checking the Installation
We've made it this far. Almost there. It's time to check whether your installation was successful or not. Open up your command line. For our newbies. You do this by pressing windows key + typing cmd (windows), or Command Space barring and typing "terminal" (Mac).
A black looking screen should popup. We are going to be typing two commands in here. Don't worry it's a lot easier than it looks.
Type the following commands in your terminal (that's what the black looking thing you just opened up is called) without the numbers in front.
Assuming your installation was successful, each of these two commands should return something. In my case the outputs were "conda 4.8.3" and Python "3.7.7". These correspond to the versions of python and anaconda that are installed upon my computer. Note: your command line may look different from mine in case you are using a mac. However the commands should stay the same.
Good job !! You have a fully functional programming interface sitting in your computer now !!
Step 4: Explore the other amazing tools that you got with Anaconda
Anaconda ships with a lot more tools that I can cover in this tutorial. However, I would like to point you some of the key features. Particularly, Anaconda Navigator. This should have been installed as an app during your installation process. So search for it in your file directory or downloaded app folders. The specifics of this would vary depending on file systems. In windows: a hit to the windows key + typing anaconda should bring it up. On mac: a similar process using command + spacebar + typing anaconda should work.
Once you get the navigator running, you should see the following window:
A few specifics might differ, for I have additional modules including PyCharm added onto my system. However, a brief look through all these platforms should quickly reveal the powerful tools you have just added onto your computer.
Step 5: Reach out if you have any questions or get stuck
Installation can be one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of getting setup for programming and data science. It's taken up a good chunk of my time, and I know how easy it can be to want to give up at times. I can also attest that pushing through provides a sense of satisfaction that is unlike any others. Seek out help if you get stuck. Drop a question onto the blog post and I'll try to get back as soon as possible. Ask friends/family members in case they might know what to do. Most importantly: DON'T GIVE UP.
That should be it for this tutorial. I hope you were able to get your python platforms setup on your machines. Next we'll be taking a trip to Jupyter and get started on writing your very first python code.