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Best Python IDE

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Python IDEs are essential tools for developers who work with Python. They provide a set of tools to write, test, and debug code, which helps increase productivity and improve the quality of code produced.


IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment. It’s a coding tool that allows you to write, test, and debug your code in an easier way, as they typically offer code completion or code insight by highlighting, resource management, and debugging tools, even though the IDE is a strictly defined concept, it’s starting to be redefined as other tools such as notebooks start gaining more and more features that traditionally belong to IDEs. For example, debugging your code is also possible in Jupyter Notebook.


Benefits of using IDE:

  1. An IDE can improve the productivity of software developers thanks to fast setup and standardization across tools.

  2. Without an IDE, developers spend time deciding what tools to use for various tasks, configuring the tools, and learning how to use them. Many or even all of the necessary dev-test tools are included in one integrated development environment.

  3. IDEs are also designed with all their tools under one user interface. An IDE can standardize the development process by organizing the necessary features for software development in the UI.


Best Python IDE:


1. Atom IDE

Atom is a customizable text editor maintained by social coding megalith GitHub, so as you'd expect it can do pretty much anything you can imagine. And if it can't, then someone's almost certainly working on a plugin to address that.


Atom has its own comprehensive package manager, and a huge community working on packages for it. As well as built-in Git and GitHub integration, Atom allows you to collaborate on coding projects in real-time via the Teletype package. Several thousand other packages are available, but Python coders looking for a more efficient workflow would do well to seek out a script package.


This offering is based on the electron framework, so Atom is cross-platform, but also has a not inconsiderable memory footprint. Coders who prefer their apps to be lightweight will balk at the 400MB (including its dependencies) install footprint and should look elsewhere. But even on a modest system it runs fine and all the functionality Atom provides means that it’s well worth the space investment.


Despite all its features, Atom has a clean interface and is much more beginner-friendly than you'd expect. The project view is helpful once you start to dabble with bigger projects and you are free to split the panels of the interface to suit your fancy.


Pros:

  • Free and open source

  • Highly customizable with a large number of extensions and packages

  • Multi-platform support (Windows, macOS, Linux)

  • Supports multiple selections and editing

  • Integrated version control system support

Cons:

  • Can be slow or resource-intensive on less powerful hardware

  • Some features require third-party plugins

  • Lacks some advanced features found in other IDEs, such as advanced code analysis tools

  • Not as feature-rich out of the box compared to other IDEs

  • Some extensions can be unreliable or poorly maintained



2. IDLE

It's easy to overlook IDLE , Python's very own bespoke Integrated Development Environment. IDLE (named after Monty Python's Eric Idle) is fairly minimal compared to some of the other offerings around, but it has everything you need and certainly won't get in your way.


It’s coded in Python and uses the lightweight tkinter toolkit to draw its GUI. Starting IDLE will open a Python shell, just as you get when starting Python from the terminal. You can play around with code snippets here, with the bonus that keywords and output will be nicely colored.


Moving on from here you can open a new window to start coding proper. Your code will be appropriately highlighted and automatically indented, with a configurable indent level. IDLE supports using spaces or tabs for indentation, and can automagically convert between the two – plus it can indent multiple lines at a time.


IDLE lacks any project management facilities, but that’s no problem if your project spans only a handful of files. It has a powerful debugger which allows single-stepping through the code or over-stepping through each high level function. The debugger shows the call stack as well as the state of local and global variables.


Pros:

  • Comes preinstalled with the standard Python distribution, making it easily accessible for beginners

  • Simple and easy to use

  • Supports syntax highlighting and code completion

  • Includes a basic debugger

  • Free and open source

Cons:

  • Lacks some advanced features found in other IDEs, such as automatic refactoring tools

  • Limited customization options and third-party plugin support

  • Not suitable for large-scale projects

  • Can be slow or resource-intensive for larger programs

  • No built-in support for virtual environments



3. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code – or Code for short – is an open source code editor owned by Microsoft. Code has become popular among developers, and it's a fine choice for your Python projects too, once you've installed the Python extension, that is.


Code has its own debugger, supports linting, and has integration with all manner of source control tools. It has a built-in terminal too, and a well-stocked extensions marketplace (don't worry, they're free). It can also run and debug your project's unit tests through the unittest, pytest or nose frameworks.


If all this sounds a little too much, it also has a minimalist 'zen mode' which shows you only the file you're working on, hiding not just Code's interface, but the rest of your desktop too.


Code is highly configurable, and it has a settings panel that will delight those of a certain mind-set – each section unfolds the corresponding section of the settings.json file, all nicely highlighted of course.


Like Atom, code is an Electron app, so is cross-platform and a little bulky. Unlike Atom it has support for Intellisense, Microsoft's own take on code completion. For Python, as well as just suggesting completions, this also provides on-the-fly popups showing the documentation for classes and methods.


Pros:

  • Highly customizable with a vast collection of extensions and plugins

  • Supports multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux

  • Built-in support for debugging, testing, and code analysis

  • Integrated terminal for running commands and interacting with the environment

  • Strong support for version control, including Git

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for beginners due to the large number of features and customization options

  • Some important features require third-party plugins

  • Some features can be slow or resource-intensive on less powerful hardware

  • Limited support for some advanced features found in other IDEs, such as automatic refactoring tools

  • Development and support for some extensions and plugins can be inconsistent or unreliable


4. eric


This powerful cross-platform IDE – which, like IDLE, is named after Eric Idle – is written in Python and uses the Qt library. Though Python is its focus, eric(opens in new tab) (lowercase is the intended spelling) has excellent support for Ruby, and other languages too. It supports the bread and butter tasks we've come to expect: code folding, code completion, brace matching.


But there's so much more that you'll need to use its built-in (and automated) TODO list generation to keep track. It has an integrated class browser and powerful debugger, and thanks to being built-in Qt supports building GUIs via Qt Designer. The initial configuration screen may seem daunting, but most of it can be put off till later.


While the interface does look busy, there's no reason you can't use eric as a simple code (or even plaintext) editor. But it really comes into its own for more serious coding – there's even a built-in hex editor, SQL browser and icon designer. It supports unit tests and can debug both multithreaded and multiprocessing programs, which as anyone who dabbles in such things will testify, generate the worst kind of bugs.


It supports Mercurial and SVN version control natively, and Git support is available through a plugin. Like Code, there's support for real-time collaboration on code. In short, if you want a feature-rich Python powerhouse, eric is for you.


Pros:

  • Built specifically for Python, with features tailored for Python development

  • Supports Python 2.x and 3.x

  • Comprehensive feature set, including debugging, testing, and profiling tools

  • Highly customizable with plugins and packages

  • Supports multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for beginners due to a large number of features and customization options

  • May require some setup and configuration to work properly

  • User interface may not be as modern or polished as some other IDEs

  • Lacks some advanced features found in other IDEs, such as automatic code formatting

  • Development and support for Eric can be slow and inconsistent at times



5. PyDev

PyDev is the Python IDE that runs in Eclipse, which is already a very popular open source IDE for various programming languages, and is well-supported with a wide range of plugins to help add features.


PyDev itself comes with a range of useful coding features, such as code auto-completion, debugging, coding templates and analysis, as well as a browser for testing code.


Pros:

  • Built on top of the popular Eclipse IDE, providing a wide range of features

  • Comprehensive support for Python, including debugging, testing, and refactoring tools

  • Supports multiple Python interpreters and virtual environments

  • Integration with popular version control systems

  • Free and open source

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for beginners due to the large number of features and customization options

  • Eclipse can be resource-intensive, making it slow on less powerful hardware

  • Requires some configuration to set up and may not work out of the box

  • Lacks some advanced features found in other IDEs, such as advanced code completion and code analysis tools

  • Development and support for PyDev can be slow and inconsistent at times



6. PyCharm

Pycharm is an IDE developed by JetBrains and created specifically for Python. It has various features such as code analysis, integrated unit tester, integrated Python debugger, support for web frameworks, etc. Pycharm is particularly useful in machine learning because it supports libraries such as Pandas, Matplotlib, Scikit-Learn, NumPy, etc.



Pros:

  • The comprehensive feature set, including debugging, testing, and code analysis tools

  • Powerful code completion and refactoring capabilities

  • Built-in support for virtual environments

  • Integration with version control systems

  • Multi-platform support (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Cons:

  • Resource-intensive can be slow on less powerful hardware

  • Can be overwhelming for beginners due to a large number of features

  • Large file sizes can take up significant storage space

  • Free Community edition has fewer features compared to the paid Professional edition

  • Paid Professional edition can be expensive for individual developers or small teams


7. Thonny

Thonny is the least ‘developer-centric’ of all the IDEs we’ve highlighted here, but that doesn't mean it's any less powerful. It's developed at the University of Tartu in Estonia, and is itself written in Python. It features a powerful debugger that's great for learning the ins and outs of coding without worrying about how breakpoints work.


The debugger can show you the state of variables as the program runs. It lets you take small or large steps through the program, which is great if you’re tracking down hard to find bugs. This is much better practice than – as beginners and seasoned coders alike are occasionally tempted to do – peppering your code with messy print() statements.


Thonny will automatically indent as you type, which is helpful for anyone new to Python since the language uses indentation to delineate functions, loops, classes, clauses, etc. It will autocomplete your code and provide bracket/parentheses matching. It will also helpfully highlight any syntax errors.


It would be ideal for beginners, but for the fact it's a little tricky to install if you're unfamiliar with Python packages and in particular pip (a package manager for Python). That said, it is included as standard in new versions of Raspbian and is well-suited to Raspberry Pi projects. It's just a shame that other distros don't include Thonny in their repos.


Pros:

  • Simple and easy to use

  • Designed for beginners

  • Built-in support for Python 3.x and micro:bit

  • Features a debugger with step-by-step execution

  • Offers code completion and syntax highlighting

Cons:

  • Limited advanced features

  • Not suitable for large-scale projects

  • Limited support for third-party packages

  • Only supports Python 3.x (no support for Python 2.x)

  • Lacks support for some popular Python libraries and frameworks


8. Sublime text 3

Sublime Text 3 (ST3) is a lightweight, cross-platform code editor known for its speed, ease of use, and strong community support. It's an incredible editor right out of the box, but the real power comes from the ability to enhance its functionality using Package Control and creating custom settings.


Sublime Text editor is used as an Integrated Development Editor (IDE) like Visual Studio code and NetBeans. The current version of Sublime Text editor is 3.0 and is compatible with various operating systems like Windows, Linux and MacOS.


Pros:

  • Lightweight and fast

  • Highly customizable with plugins and packages

  • Multi-platform support (Windows, macOS, Linux)

  • Supports multiple selections and editing

  • Supports split editing and project management

Cons:

  • Limited debugging features

  • No built-in support for virtual environments

  • No automatic code formatting

  • Some important features require third-party plugins

  • Not free (although there is a free trial period)


9. Jupyter

Jupyter notebook is an open-source IDE that is used to create Jupyter documents that can be created and shared with live codes. Also, it is a web-based interactive computational environment. The Jupyter notebook can support various languages that are popular in data science such as Python, Julia, Scala, R, etc.


Pros:

  • Provides in-line code execution using blocks.

  • Provides in-line graphing support.

  • It can be themed and supports kernel as well as latex.

  • It is flexible.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for large projects

  • Security concerns

  • Limited functionality

  • high learning skills


10. Spyder

Spyder is a very powerful and easy-to-use environment that is written in python, for python. What makes it special is the diverse functionalities that it offers. For example, easy debugging, advanced editing, aesthetically pleasing visualization techniques, interactive executions, and many more. In this article, you will get accustomed to some vital parts of the IDE and its key panes and functionality.


The following are some of the more salient features of Spyder:

  • It analyzes code to provide automatic code completion, horizontal/vertical splitting, and a go-to-definition.

  • It is specifically designed for data scientists; ​hence, it integrates well with data science libraries like NumPy.

  • It allows you to run the IPython console.

  • It includes a powerful debugger.

  • It contains an integrated documentation browser.


Pros:

  • It is Light-weight IDE

  • Its features, like Online help, are great for beginners


Cons:

  • It is not very customizable

  • It is more basic than its counterparts (Pycharm)


Conclusion:

Each of the above IDEs provides unique features and benefits for developers, and the best choice of IDE depends on the specific needs and preferences of the developer. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced Python developer, using a Python IDE can help you write better code more efficiently.

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