engineering

July 21, 2020   |   5min read

The Best Python IDEs to Choose for Your Project

A programmer’s life is a constant problem-solving. From solving customer problems, through programming your own solutions to facilitate your work, to choosing the right work environment. Let’s focus on the latter. If you’re working with Python, there are several solid IDEs the market worth checking out. I hope that the following list will help you choose the best Python IDE that will meet your expectations.

VIM—popular Python editor

Hail To The King. VIM is a free text editor written by Bram Moolenaar. The first version was released in 1991—Linux Jurnal chose it as one of the most popular Python editors in recent years. Although it is free, the author is encouraging the users to donate money to charity. VIM is highly customizable—you can edit it and write needed extensions. If you need help, there are plenty of guides available online. VIM is also continuously supported and developed. The main advantages of VIM are configurability, lightness, speed, a lot of support of the community and the fact that it is open sourced. Which means you can become a contributor and develop it to your needs. VIM is definitely worth your time.

IDLE—Python IDE for beginners

IDLE is a Python’s Integrated Development and Learning Environment. If you’re just starting your adventure with Python then you might come across this IDE. It’s a free programming tool, based on the TkInter library which is the standard GUI package. IDLE is a standard part of Python used to write simple scripts, and, since it’s quite easy to use, it’s recommended for beginners. It requires a separate installation, as it’s not installed together with Python on the machine. The advantages are: availability on Windows, MacOS and Linux, colorful syntax, auto-complete and debugger.

Developer sitting at the desk with a computer.

Visual Studio Code—a highly customized Python IDE

Visual Studio Code is a modern development environment created by Microsoft and distributed under the MIT license.The first release of VSC happened in April 2015. This Python IDE is an interesting alternative to other environments—highly customized, and with many extensions. The advantages of Visual Studio Code? Open source, extensibility, integrated GIT, debugger, syntax coloring, availability on Windows, MacOS, Linux.

Sublime Text—Python IDE with much variety

Sublime Text is a free text editor and programming environment that supports many programming languages, like Python, Java, C, Go, Ruby, R etc. It’s a multiplatform, written in C ++ and Python. Sublime Text is not available on open source, and—sadly—it’s more of an annoyware or nagware, which means that the program interrupts the user to display a message that encourages them to purchase the software. The great advantage of Sublime Text is a possibility to customize it and use it as a plain text notebook. This Python editor is very popular, light and simple to use. If you’re capable of tailoring it to your needs, it is truly a great tool.

Atom—a “light” Python editor

Atom is another light code editor. The Python IDE is written in HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Node.js. Atom always reminds me of Visual Studio Code because of its colors and UI/UX. It is a fully customizable environment with eight built-in color themes to choose from and it can be used on Windows, MacOS and Linux. The advantages of this IDE are: auto-complete, file browsing, and configurability. It’s also capable of running smoothly without using a lot of memory.

Eclipse—install add-ons from the Eclipse Marketplace

The Eclipse development environment is mainly known as the IDE for Java programming language and a great development tool with many extensions. The tool was created by IBM in 2001 as an Eclipse Project and is currently developed by the Eclipse Foundation. Working with Python in Eclipse requires a PyDev plugin. The advantages of this Python editor are definitely open source, multi-language support, and ability to install other add-ons from the Eclipse Marketplace.

A group of developers sitting in the office, talking.

BBEdit—check what fits your needs with a 30-day trial

A programming environment developed by a company called Bare Bones. Before BBEdit there was Text Wrangler, and it has not been officially supported since 2019. Upon installation, all the editor features are available for 30 days, giving you enough time to check what fits your needs. After that the tool goes into the free mode, however, it still has a lot of useful features available. Unfortunately, the BBEdit was only made for MacOS.

EMACS—IDE by Richard Stallman

The first version of EMACS was created in 1976. Its creator is Richard Stallman—yes, THE Richard Stallman, the man behind GNU and GCC. EMACS is an extensible and rich text editor. The environment is still being developed (the current version was uploaded on March 26). EMACS is a perfect example of the Free Software idea and one of the oldest editors on the market. Definitely worth knowing (just as Richard Stallman’s bio)!

Komodo—one IDE for all your languages

Komodo is another Python text editor for programming. The editor supports major technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Flask and Django. The main advantages of this environment are a debugger, support for the unit test library and the possibility of extension to Nose and GIT. Certainly, the big plus of Komodo Python IDE is the ability to work on MacOS, Windows, and Linux, and a quite extensive documentation.

PyCharm— All Python tools in one place

There are plenty of developers who use PyCharm. Pycharm is part of JetBrains and was created with Python IDE in mind. It is fully customizable: starting from the color themes, fonts, ending with the placement of individual IDE elements, and the installation of plugins such as Rainbow Brackets, or even Nyan Progress Bar. You can use the free version for commercial purposes, although it lacks support for web frameworks and databases. However, for most cases, you’ll find that the free version is enough. PyCharm can be integrated with GIT and has a built-in debugger and terminal. Navigating the code base is quite pleasant and the multitude of keyboard shortcuts can make you dizzy (CTRL/CMD + B can prove to be extremely useful).

As you can see, there are plenty of IDEs for Python, which can help you in your programming work. Some of the ones I mentioned might seem a bit exotic, some have a high entry-level, some need more time to get used to, but definitely each one of them was built with passion and big love for Python language. Give them a go and I am sure you will find the best Python IDE for you. If you have any questions or need help with your Python project, drop us a line!

Michał Słowikowski

Junior Software Engineer

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