Getting Started with Python

I’m honored to be presenting at PyTennessee this Saturday! I’ve thoughtfully crafted an hour-long workshop to help folks get into programming with Python.

The phrase get into programming with Python is intentionally ambiguous. My workshop is for people who want to get into programming and we’ll be doing so with Python. My workshop is also for people who are already into programming but want to do so with Python.

March 7, 2020 will be my first Python talk. Out of necessity, it will also largely be a live coding demo – also a first for me. So, let’s see what we’ll need to do before you walk into the session.

Operating System

I don’t care what operating system you use …
… but you’ll need one.

I recommend Windows 10 because I’m most familiar with it. I also recommend using your favorite free and open source Linux distro.

Code Editor

I don’t care what code editor you use …
… but you’ll need one.

I recommend Visual Studio Code since it’s free, built on open source, and is available for many platforms: Windows, Linux, and macOS.


I don’t care what version of Python you use …
… but you’ll need one.

I recommend Python 3.8.2 since the Python 3.8 series is the newest major release of the Python programming language, and it contains many new features and optimizations. I doubt we’ll hit any breaking changes between 3.7.x and 3.8.x in an intro workshop, so either is fine.


I don’t care what extensions you use …
… but they can come in handy.

I recommend the Python extension for Visual Studio Code because it provides seamless interop between Visual Studio Code and Python. You can download and install it in a single button click from within Visual Studio Code by extension clicking on the extensions button. Alternatively, you can download the .vsix file from the link above (Resources -> Download) and manually install in Visual Studio Code.


There is a ton of documentation online for getting Linux, VS Code, and Python installed. This can be helpful if you stumble upon the article you need for your environment, and not-so-helpful if nothing you find applies to your environment. Contact me (see end of post) if you can’t figure it out, and I’ll do my best to help!

The Visual Studio Code website has a great post on setting up Visual Studio Code to work with Python. I recommend getting through as much of the article as you can prior to my session, although it’s not a requirement because:

  • You’ll learn from my session even if you don’t code along with me.
  • You aren’t required to figure everything out on your own.
  • You have better things to do in your spare time.


  • Most learning is iterative and incremental, so get an extra iteration in.
  • The more exposure you have, the more you’ll learn in the workshop.
  • Time spent on learning can yield large returns.

That’s It

So, there you have it! Contact me if you need help setting up, miss my session, or want a 1:1 or small group session.

Edit: You can find the Python scripts and slides here:

Thanks everyone who attended my session, and good luck learning Python! I *would* like to reiterate that I am neither a professional python developer nor an expert python developer. One should follow conventions and best practices when writing for production, and these scripts are strictly for demoing an introduction to Python.