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Differences between Python 2 vs Python 3

Picking the right programming language can always be a chore for companies and individuals. Individuals sometimes take multiple classes and spend years and thousands of dollars mastering a programming language. They learn all of its complexities and apply all of the possible updates as quickly as possible. A programming language could grow to become the basis of a company or a lucrative hobby. Then, the individual is eventually faced with a crisis when the programming language either stops being supported or issues a significant update. Individuals often try to drag out their usage of the comfortable and the familiar for as long as possible. They ignore possible inefficiencies and even some security flaws. 

This exact scenario is being played out around the world today with computers and companies that use the Python programming language. Python 2 will no longer be supported after 2020 and individuals who use the language still are being urged to transfer over to Python 3. While there are sensible reasons to make the shift, this fact does not mean that companies are willing to change what they have been working with for over a decade in the span of a few weeks or months. 

History of Python

Python was a high-level programming language developed in 1991 and later managed by the Python software foundation. The term “high-level” means that the language had a wide variety of potential uses and could be applied at the vanguard of programming. This language was meant to introduce ease and simplicity into the field of computer programming. 

It made a better use of white space than other languages and simplified the logic of functions and entries that the programming field required. Over the years, this simplistic nature ended up being at the heart of Python’s success. It ended up cultivating an entire programming philosophy that sought to reduce the confusion, stress, and opacity that dominated the first several decades of computer coding and programming languages. 

Since 1991, Python has exploded in popularity and became a critical part of the infrastructure of the internet. Now, Python is being used across a number of different fields. It is essential to artificial intelligence and to large-scale research initiatives. Python is also at the heart of many websites that millions of Americans use on a daily basis. This programming language is particularly helpful for any website that uses or requires a search by dictionary function. News and social media websites need this function and fit more seamlessly with Python than many other forms of programming languages. The famous social news network Reddit is based entirely off of Python code. 

Python 2

Python 2 is still being updated and used extensively. This operating language served as an update to the original Python system. It was introduced in 2000 to glowing reviews due to its many advances and achievements. Python 2 was able to use Unicode symbols in a manner that vastly expanded potential input and output. This new programming language also utilized a cycle-detecting garbage-collector which helped remove old processes and make the program more efficient. Starting with Python 2, the Python development team also started allowing the community to make more changes and updates. 

This decision helped to secure the long-term viability and the future improvements of the language. The language went through multiple updates up to version 2.7. This beneficial system ended up leading to a problem with the adoption of Python 3. Python 3 was introduced in 2008 and the developers of Python originally intended to stop support of the programming language in 2015. However, users reported that they were still using the generally effective Python 2. It will be inherently difficult for Python users to make that significant change. But there are still reasons to update their programming language. 

Strengths of Python 3

Python 3 has a handful of significant benefits over its predecessor. One of these is the PRINT function. On Python 2, this function was listed simply as a term that was located beside the text that an individual wanted printed. All of the other functions had to pair text with parentheses in order to work properly. Python 3 treats the PRINT function the same as all other functions. This quick fix allows an individual to fit the PRINT function in with the many other functions that coding in Python might require. 

Another significant change is integer division and the way that the programming language treats numbers. Previously, Python 2 treated integers as strong numbers and would not allow them to float by adding decimal places. This status led to the language rounding to the lowest answer while performing calculations. The rounding may become a problem if input involves hundreds or thousands of complex calculations. Python 3 treats these numbers as traditional integers that can be easily divided. 

In addition, Unicode support is more complete in Python 3 than it originally was in Python 2. One of the original updates of Python 2 was the ability to program with the help of Unicode symbols. These symbols can help a developer save a significant amount of time when they are coding and programming. But Python 2 made an incomplete change by displaying these symbols in ASCII. ASCII is a less developed simulation of the 


Many aspects of Python 2 and 3 are inherently similar. Certain changes that are used as part of Python 3 can be ported back to Python 2. A prominent example is the change in the PRINT function. This new function can be ported back to Python 2.7 and can make that programming language function more smoothly. Other changes in Python 3 can also be expressed in updated Python 2 languages. Python 3 code can be ran in a Python 2.7 environment in most instances. 

Some small tweaks and changes may need to be made in the field of integer and function usage. But many of the significant developments of Python 3, such as formatted string literals and a new approach to matrix manipulation, had already been included in the most recent forms of Python 2.7. Python 2.7 was basically a bridge to help ease anyone who had not yet transitioned into the use of Python 3. 

Why change?

One of the most important reasons to change programming languages is the potential of discontinuing the product and stopping updates. Python 2 has been continuously updated over the past ten years. Python’s developers wanted to support individuals who were loyal to their old products. The most recent update of the product was the 2.7 edition release. But the updates will not continue indefinitely and support will end in 2020. Support for Python 2 means that the Python Software Foundation continues to offer updates and security packages if a flaw is discovered at some point that makes the programming language vulnerable to hackers. 

Lately, these updates have been issued to help Python 2 remain compatible with any Python 3 updates. The loss of support means that these updates will cease. Companies will immediately become much more vulnerable than they were before. They will have more difficulty finding individuals to perform maintenance on their systems and to update those systems. In general, their programming language will become obsolete. Their status will reflect the current status of operating systems and internet browsers that are no longer supported. Due to the current size and sophistication of updated websites, these browsers and operating systems grind and lurch when they are able to access the internet at all. This fate will be similar to the one that Python 2 users will begin to face soon after the end of support in 2020. 

Another key reason to change over to Python 3 is ease of use. Python 2 was most certainly easy to use. It saved a significant amount of time and had more functions that the initial release of Python. But the improved features of Python 3 mean that they will become standard for the many different types of computers and programming systems that use Python. New applications will automatically be launched in Python 3 and anybody using Python 2 will have to introduce new systems to help navigate themselves. Individuals will have to type decimals to properly perform all sorts of division. They will have to render Unicode symbols in ASCII. Sometimes, they will have to type extra in order to print at the right times and in the right places. All of these steps will take time and energy that could otherwise be spent crafting a program and typing out code. 

Potential complications

Python 3 has been fine-tuned extensively over the past ten years. Initial patches and updates sought to help work out bugs and improve the flow of programming from users of the language. But soon after that, Python developers began to focus extensively on the ability for Python 2 users to utilize Python 3. There are certain aspects of porting from Python 2 to Python 3 that may still be difficult. 

Package libraries, for instance, that existed on Python 2 have not been fully ported over. The porting process began later in the new programming language’s lifespan and it has not been fully completed yet. There are several package libraries that cannot be utilized yet in Python 3. This situation could become a problem if an individual works extensively in older applications or with older machines. 

Individuals also must be wary of the new developments and updates that will soon be issued with Python 3. Those developments will utilize the Unicode systems and integer relations that Python 3 emphasized so effectively. This process will only accelerate in the years to come. Python 3 will eventually pivot away form compatibility with Python 2. Developers will assume that nobody is using the antiquated Python 2 software and may introduce new characters and processes that will simply issue an error message if used with Python 2. Individuals need to be aware of these changes and the potential for significant programming improvements in Python 3 in the months and years to come. 


Python 2 was an admirable programming language that helped to revolutionize the way that developers processed and programmed applications. But it is clear that companies need to start the process of transitioning from Python 2 to Python 3 as quickly as possible. Python 3 is more intuitive and takes up less time than its predecessor. It furthers the ease-of-use and simplicity that made Python into a juggernaut in the programming field. 

Just as importantly, transitioning to Python 3 will help keep a company safe and up-to-date. It will ensure that a company is protected and keeps as close as possible to the many developments that Python’s developers and other users may have introduced. Companies have gotten all that they can out of the ease and simplicity of Python 2. It is certainly time for an upgrade.

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  • Stewart, Suzy. "Differences between Python 2 vs Python 3". After Hours Programming. Accessed on April 23, 2024. https://www.afterhoursprogramming.com/blog/python-2-vs-python-3/.

  • Stewart, Suzy. "Differences between Python 2 vs Python 3". After Hours Programming, https://www.afterhoursprogramming.com/blog/python-2-vs-python-3/. Accessed 23 April, 2024.

  • Stewart, Suzy. Differences between Python 2 vs Python 3. After Hours Programming. Retrieved from https://www.afterhoursprogramming.com/blog/python-2-vs-python-3/.

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