Even though Python 3 was launched back in 2008, a lot of people are using Python 2 for mainstream enterprise tasks. Be it their love for the version, aversion to new features or significant challenges in migrating from Python 2 to 3. Several organizations haven’t migrated to Python 3 because of plenty of reasons. But, regardless of whether they like it or not, Python 2 is in its end of life phase. As announced by the Python Software Foundation, the beloved version Python 2 will be breathing for the last time on January 1, 2020.
Sunsetting Python 2
When Guido Van Rossum, the creator, and author of Python announced back in 2014, that Python 2 is all set for retirement, it seemed like a distant event. A few organizations paid attention to it, while others kept on using the Python 2 believing that the occasion was far fetched. But, here we are, with less than a month left for the final day where the sun sets on Python 2.
Python 2 has been excessively used by developers all across the globe as the first revolutionary version of the widely used programming language. From scripting to enterprise development to machine learning, Python 2 has more than a few significant contributions in the world. But, like the lifecycle of every other programming language, Python 2 had to reach its end one day. Whether we like it or not, there is seldom any time left for it.
Aversion to Python 3
Organizations that have resisted the use of Python 3 had their own reasons. While some of these did not like that Python 3 had only one intuitive way of doing things, others did not prefer the sub-par performance of the version. Some enterprises that even wanted to migrate to this new version couldn’t do it because of compatibility issues and the lack of initial support in Python 3 for third party tools and libraries.
But, the fact is that it isn’t 2014, where the retirement of Python 2 is just announced. Over the years expert developers and enterprises have understood the migration issues in a much better manner only to come up with seamless fixes.
Python 3 from the very beginning was designed as a pathbreaking version that not just had new features but also fixed the shortcomings of Python 2. In spite of its popularity, Python 2 was filled with more than a few broken processes along with security issues. It was a Unicode mess with 8-bit strings that were ambiguous and definitely toxic in the long run.
Moreover, there were too many ways to do a task. Even though developers loved this feature, it was turning ambiguous and leading to a lot of loose security ends in the language. Python 3 corrected all of this by performing all the incompatible stuff at once and long-planned housecleaning, redesigning the Unicode along with adding a plethora of premium features that would lead the language evolution for Python forward.
Here’s All That You Can Do
But, if you’re still stuck on Python 2, no matter what the reason, there is no need to panic. Even though you would have to move to the latest version today or tomorrow, there are a few things you can do to stay relevant.
Analyze Your Application
Leaving behind Python 2 for Python 3 might be easier than enterprises think. It mostly depends on their code base and external dependencies. The best part is that Python Software Foundation has elaborate documentation that has everything one needs to know to migrate to the new version. The first step as an enterprise that you can take is making sure that your application is future proof. This means figuring out any dependencies and components in your application that can hamper the migration process. Python 3’s official documentation mentions the package caniusepython3 that can be used used to accomplish the task.
Look in the Smallest Places
The idea behind making the transition steps is to look for the smallest places in your application where components or elements might be dependant on Python 2. Once these places are recognized, the next logical step is to move away from these gradually by looking for alternate solutions in Python 3. Recognizing solutions that are Python 3 compatible can help in rebuilding the application from that point outwards.
Move to Third Party Runtimes
In spite of all measures, if you have to stick to Python 2 for some more time, a good option can be moving to third party Python 2 runtimes. These runtimes provide a longer support window for your application and can prove really helpful considering that Python 2’s retirement date. Some of the useful runtimes are Tauthon, PyPy, Cython, IronPython etc.
Purchase Help from Vendors
In case you wish to stick with Python 2 for a longer period of time, you can hire Python developers for extended support from a vendor. Some vendors provide support for Python 2 as part of its presence in another supported product. For example, Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions 6 and 7 already include Python 2, so any support contracts purchased from Red Hat for those versions of the OS will continue to provide you support for Python 2 as long as the product is supported.
Similarly, you can also purchase a runtime like ActiveState that offers commercial support to organizations who do not want to migrate to Python 3 at the moment.
Maintain Python 2 Yourself
If you’re open to driving changes and playing on your own terms, you can simply choose to maintain Python 2 all by yourself. One of the best qualities of Python is that it is open source in nature which gives you the advantage of fixing whatever is required all by yourself. It isn’t too hard since most libraries are itself written in Python. The problem might arise when you have to make changes to the C module or CPython Interpreter.
Just Sit Back and Relax
Last but not least, you can just sit back and choose to do nothing with your enterprise application in Python 2. Enterprises have used this trick with many other systems that reached their end of lives. For example, Python applications that are run within your enterprise without being exposed to public Internet can keep on running that way. Similarly, you can freeze a given version of Python runtime into a container image or virtual environment along with all its dependencies.
With these tricks at your rescue, you don’t need to fear Python 2’s doomsday at all. However, it is always a smart option to move onto the next level of the language, since it keeps the advancement alive and helps you grow more aggressively.