Can Python 2.7 And 3.4 Coexist

Python Programming

Can Python 2.7 and 3.4 Coexist?

As a Python developer, I often find myself pondering the question of whether Python 2.7 and 3.4 can peacefully coexist. The release of Python 3 brought with it several major changes that were not backward-compatible with the older Python 2.7. While Python 2.7 still has a significant user base, Python 3.4 offers numerous improvements and enhancements that make it an attractive choice for developers. In this article, I will explore the compatibility and coexistence of these two versions of Python.

The Differences Between Python 2.7 and Python 3.4

Before diving into the coexistence of Python 2.7 and 3.4, it is important to understand the key differences between these two versions. Python 3.4 introduced several language changes and features that improve the overall coding experience. These changes include improved Unicode support, better handling of bytes and strings, enhanced exception handling, and more streamlined syntax.

Python 2.7, on the other hand, is considered the last major release of the Python 2.x series and does not include the same improvements found in Python 3.4. However, Python 2.7 maintains backward compatibility with earlier versions of Python 2.x, making it the preferred choice for developers who rely on legacy codebases.

Coexistence of Python 2.7 and 3.4

Now, let’s address the question at hand – can Python 2.7 and 3.4 coexist peacefully? The answer is a resounding yes. Both versions of Python can be installed and run side by side on the same machine without any conflicts. This is made possible by the fact that Python 2.7 and 3.4 use separate installation directories and have distinct executable names.

Developers who need to work with both versions can use virtual environments to manage their Python installations. Virtual environments provide a way to isolate Python environments, allowing you to switch between different versions of Python effortlessly. Tools like virtualenv and pyenv make it easy to create and manage virtual environments, ensuring a smooth coexistence of Python 2.7 and 3.4.

Porting Code from Python 2.7 to 3.4

While running Python 2.7 and 3.4 side by side is feasible, there might be situations where you need to port your code from Python 2.7 to 3.4. Python 3 introduced several backward-incompatible changes, which means that some code written for Python 2.7 might not work as intended in Python 3.4.

To facilitate the migration process, Python provides a tool called 2to3 that automatically converts Python 2.x code to Python 3.x syntax. This tool analyses the code and makes the necessary changes, such as replacing print statements with print() functions and converting old-style classes to new-style classes.

It is important to note that while 2to3 automates the majority of the conversion process, it cannot guarantee a 100% accurate conversion. Some manual adjustments might still be required to ensure the code functions correctly in Python 3.4.


In conclusion, Python 2.7 and 3.4 can indeed coexist peacefully. Developers can install and run both versions side by side on their machines, and virtual environments make it easy to manage Python installations. While there might be situations where code needs to be ported from Python 2.7 to 3.4, the 2to3 tool can assist in automating the conversion process. As the Python community continues to transition towards Python 3, it is essential to embrace the improvements and benefits offered by Python 3.4.