Python automation can help simplify and expedite the most repetitive, time-consuming tasks. I am sure there have been plenty of times when you wished there was a simpler way to approach and accomplish a mundane task. Repetitive tasks can be a drag and hamper your creativity and productivity in other areas of your work and life. If only there was a way that you could automate some of your repetitive tasks.
Luckily, there is! It is called Python. This programming language is great for automating tasks, but you don’t have to just take our word for it. There are several great resources that go in-depth into how Python can be used to automate all sorts of different tasks. Perhaps one of the best resources on the power of Python scripts is “Automate the Boring Stuff with Python,” by Al Sweigart.
This book not only covers a ton of great information regarding Python but also teaches beginners how to use Python for themselves to automate tasks. The best part is you can read this book for free online due to a Creative Commons license. Additionally, there are several other ebooks on Python written by the same author also available to read for free as well. The sheer wealth of resources for Python is part of the reason why this programming language is so popular with web developers.
Why Python is a Great Choice for Automation
Another reason Python is a popular programming language choice among software developers is its easy-to-understand syntax. Python code mirrors the English language a lot more closely than many other programming languages. Additionally, Python code tends to be more compact and requires fewer lines of code than other languages to accomplish the same tasks. This makes Python easy to learn for beginners and experienced programmers.
The easy-to-use nature of Python allows programmers of all skill levels to begin creating useful Python scripts with a small amount of effort and time. Python scripts can be used to automate any number of mundane, repetitive tasks that eat up your time and sap your energy.
But why are Python scripts so good at automating tasks? The answer is simple. Python has incredible data structure support. Data structures allow you to store and access data. There are many different types of data structures such as a list, set, or even a dictionary. Python even allows you to create your own data structures. This flexibility gives you the ability to automate just about anything you can think of.
As I said earlier, there are a ton of great resources available for Python. This includes libraries that can help Python developers tackle several different projects including Machine Learning, data analysis, web scraping, web development, and more.
So now that you know more about Python, you’re likely still wondering what tasks you can automate using Python scripts. Let’s take a look and see. We won’t be going in-depth into the specifics of writing Python code, but as I said earlier, there are many resources available online that will help you understand and apply the mechanics of Python code.
What Tasks Can Be Automated Using Python?
It might be better to ask which tasks cannot be accomplished through automation with Python? Seriously though, when you understand Python and how to write scripts using this programming language there are not too many tasks that you will find that cannot be automated. Here are a few simple, repetitive tasks that you can begin automating with a basic grasp of Python.
There are probably few tasks you do daily that are as repetitive and time-consuming as sending emails. The smtplib library is already part of Python’s basic libraries when you begin to use this programming language. This library will be used to send emails through the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The only other thing you need in order to automate emails is a Gmail account.
It might be safer to create another Gmail account for the purposes of your email automation as you will need to turn on the allow less secure apps option in Gmail for this automation to be set-up properly. This can make your data less secure.
You can automate sending emails with fewer than 20 lines of Python code. If you spend too much time sending emails, Python automation could save you untold amounts of time and energy every day.
Reading through reports, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, and other documents that convey information and data can consume large amounts of time. Whether you need to pull your data off a document or a webpage, you can use Python code to automatically compile the data you are looking for.
Python has several modules that help read data. No matter what type of document or data source you are working with you will be able to write a Python script to quickly scan through the document and compile the data you need to extract. You can even use Python to output the information you want in any format that you require.
How many hours have you spent navigating between documents and web pages while typing out information by hand and formatting it to meet your organization’s needs? You can say goodbye to copying and pasting large amounts of data if you get a basic grasp of Python.
Changing the suffix or prefix of one or two files is easy enough, but what if you have to change the naming conventions of hundreds or even thousands of files? What if you need to make copies of files that were timestamped from two months ago? What if there are a multitude of files you need to copy across multiple folders?
You could spend hours and days managing files. However, much like the other tasks we have already gone over, you don’t have to. Are you noticing a trend yet? You can use Python automation to help you with all of your file management needs. You will be able to automate mass file name changes, copies, compressions, deletions, or movements.
Copying, moving, and renaming hundreds of files by hand is an arduous and time-consuming task. This task is also prone to human error. Python not only saves you time, but it ensures accuracy so you don’t lose or misplace files that are important to you.
This task is akin to compiling data, but if you have ever had to create a regular report for your coworkers or supervisors, you know how time-consuming this task can be. Creating reports is more than just compiling data. You need to put data in context. Likely, your organization has its preferred format for reporting as well.
You can save time by using Python to not only compile the data that you need for your report but also generate your report too. You simply need to outline the parameters you’d like to consider and let your Python code do the rest. You can set your Python script to generate reports on a regular schedule that you define.
If you typically email your reports to those it concerns, you can use your email automation to send your reports out too. This is a real-world example of how Python automation can simplify and expedite basic tasks and workflow to make a business more efficient.
What is cool about Python is that if the people who are receiving your reports are also using Python, they can automate reading the report and extract any data that is actionable. Can you imagine the efficiency of an enterprise that is fully automated with Python?
Web scraping is just data compilation from an online source like a web page. In many positions, it is necessary to find and compile information from online sources. Reading through web pages to find the necessary information is very time-consuming.
Much like the data compilation automation that we discussed earlier with regards to documents and spreadsheets, a Python script can be written to compile data from online sources. Once again, this information can be organized and formatted in whatever manner you see fit. The important thing is that web scraping takes a long time to do manually especially when you factor in the number of different pages you need to navigate to in order to completely extract all of the data you want.
Python automation is adept at handling and compiling large amounts of data. This is where techniques like Python web scraping with Selenium come into play, allowing you to interact with complex or dynamic websites during your data extraction process. Web scraping often brings in a vast amount of information, and if you are doing this task manually, you could spend days working on a task that automation could do more efficiently.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few examples of time-consuming tasks that can be automated using Python. Of course, the automation possibilities and applications of Python are practically endless. Web development tasks and other more complex tasks can also be automated using Python scripts as well.
The great thing about Python is that you do not need to be a software developer or have a lot of programming experience to create powerful, time-saving automation scripts. The more you know about Python automation, the more you can get out of it.