Over the years, Python language has evolved enormously with the contribution of developers. Python is one of the most popular programming languages. It was designed primarily for server-side web development, software development, evaluation, scripting and artificial intelligence. For this feature, Python encloses certain code editors and IDEs that are used for software development say, Python itself. If you are new to programming, learning Python is highly recommended as it is fast, efficient, and easy to learn. A python programming course online should do the trick for working professionals looking to make inroads to Python without quitting their job. Python interpreters are available on various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS. This article provides a look into the top python ide and code editors along with their features, pros and cons and talks about which are the best suited for writing Python codes. But first let us see what are code editors and IDEs.
What is a Code Editor?
A code editor is built for editing and modifying source code. A standalone text editor is used for writing and editing computer programs. Excellent ones can execute code as well as control a debugger as well as interact with source control systems. Compared to an IDE, a good dedicated code editor is usually smaller and quicker, but is less functional. Typically they are optimized for programming languages. One major feature of a text editor is that they are designed to modify various files and work with whatever language or framework you choose.
What is IDE?
IDE (Integrated Development Environment) understands the code significantly better than a text editor. It is a program exclusively built for software development. It is designed with a set of tools that all work together:
- Text editor
- Build automation
- Libraries, and many more to speed up the work.
These tools integrate: An editor designed to frame codes with text formatting, auto-completionetc., build, execution, debugging tools, file management and source and version control. It reduces manual efforts and combines all the equipment in a typical framework. IDE comes with heavy files. Hence, the downloads and installation is quite tedious. IDE requires expertise along with a lot of patience. Hence, programmers with advanced python training at work or on immersive learning platforms often go through a fine transition in the installation stages.
How does an IDE and Code editor differ from each other?
An IDE is distinctive from code editors in the following ways:
- Integrated build process: The user does not have to write his own scripts to build apps in an IDE.
- File management: IDE has an integrated file management system and deployment tool. It provides support to other framework as well. On the other hand, a Text editor is a simple editor where source code can be edited and it has no other formatting or compiling options.
- Development Environment: An IDE is mainly used for development purposes as it provides comparatively better features than a text editor. It allows you to write, compile and debug the entire script.
- Syntax Highlighting: The editor displays the text message and puts the source code in different colours to improve its readability. Even error messages are displayed in different colours so that the user understands where he has written the wrong code.
- Auto completion: It identifies and inserts a common code for the user instantly. This feature acts as an assistance for the programmer. The code suggestion automatically gets displayed.
- Debugger: This tool helps the programmer to test and debug the source code of the main program.
Although IDEs have far better features than a Text editor one major significance of Text editor is that it allows modifying all types of files rather than specifying any definite language or types.
Features of IDE
For good software development, we need code editors and IDEs which help the developer to automate the process of editing, compiling, testing, debugging and much more. Some of the features of these editors are listed below:
- Good user interface: They allow users to interact and run programs easily.
- Incredibly fast: Although these IDEs need to import heavy libraries, compile and debug, they offer fast compilation and run time.
- Syntax stylizing: Codes are colorized automatically and syntax is highlighted.
- Debugging tool: Itruns the code, set breakpoints, examine the variables.
- Provides good language syntax: IDEs usually work on a specific language but the others are designed for multi-language support. Code editors are designed with multi-language support.
- Good source and version control environment: IDEs come with source control feature to keep a track of changes made in source code and other text files during the development of any software.
- Intelligent code completion:This feature speeds up the coding process by automatically suggesting for incomplete codes. It reduces typos and other common mistakes.
Why do we need a good coding environment?
For a good software development one seeks a better coding environment. Although features vary from app to app, a definite set of features is required for one. There are many other things involved such as source code control, extension tools, language support etc. Listed below are the core features which make a good coding environment :
- Retrieve files: All the codes written in an IDE get saved. Also, the programmer can retrieve his code file at the same state where the work is left off.
- Run within the environment: It should be able to compile and run within the environment where the codes are written. No external file shall be needed to be downloaded for the execution of the programs.
- Good Debugging Tool: An IDE or editor should be able to diagnose and troubleshoot the programmer’s works and highlight the lines with errors if any. A pop-up window should display the error message. This way the programmer can keep a track of his errands and diagnose them.
- Automatic formatting tool: Indentation is done automatically as soon as the programmer moves onto the next line. It keeps the code clean and readable.
- Quick highlighting: keywords, variables and symbols are highlighted. This feature keeps the code clean and easy to understand. Also, pops up the variables making them easy to spot. This makes it a whole lot easier to pick out portions of code than simply looking at a wall of undifferentiated text.
Top 10 Python IDE and code editors
There are various Python IDEs and text editors. Some of the IDEs and text editors along with their features and pros and cons are mentioned below:
It is an open source IDE entirely written in Python. It is mainly supported by WINDOWS, LINUX, MAC OS etc.. IDLE is a decent IDE for learning because it is lightweight and quite simple to use. IDLE is installed by default as soon as installation of Python is complete. This makes it easier to get started in Python. IDLE features include the Python shell window(interactive interpreter), auto-completion, syntax highlighting, smart indentation, and a basic integrated debugger. It is however not suitable for the completion of larger projects and best suitable for educational purposes only.
- A cross-platform where a developer can search within any window, search through multiple files and replace within the windows editor
- Supports syntax highlighting, auto code completion, smart indentation and editable configurations
- Includes Python shell with highlighter
- Powerful Integrated Debugger with continuous breakpoints, global view, and local spaces
- Improves the performance
- Call stack visibility
- Increases the flexibility for developers
- Used for programming just for beginners
- Limited to handle normal usage issues.
- Supports basic design
- Large software development cannot be handled
2. Sublime text
Key Features: It is a source code editor, supported on all platforms. It is a very popular cross-platform and a better text editor. It possesses a built-in support for Python for code editing and packages to extend the syntax and editing features. All Sublime Text packages are written in Python and also a Python API. Installation of the packages often requires you to execute scripts directly in Sublime Text. it is designed to support huge programming and markup languages. Additional functions can be applied by the user with the help of plugins.
- More reliable for developers and is cross-platform
- Supports GOTO anything to access files
- Generates wide index of each method, class, and function.
- AllowsUser interface toolkit
- Easy navigation to words or symbols
- Multiple selections to change things at one time
- Offers command palette to sort, edit and modify the syntax and maintain the indentation.
- Offers powerful API and package ecosystem
- Great performance
- Highly customizable
- Allows split editing and instant project switch
- Better compatibility with language grammar
- Custom selection on specific projects
- Not free
- Installation of extensions is quite tricky
- Does not support for direct executing or debugging code from within the editor
- Less active GIT plugin
- Smooth editing
- Improves performance of its users
- Offers built-in package manager and file system browser
- Faster scripting
- Offers smart auto-completion
- Smart and flexible
- Supports multiple pane features
- Easy navigation across an application
- Simple to use
- Allows user interface customization
- Full support from GitHub
- Quick access to data and information
- For beginners only
- Tedious for sorting configurations and plugins
- Clumsy tabs reduce performance
- Slow loading
- Built on Electron, does not run as a native application
Key Features: Categorized as a stable open source code editor, VI and VIM are modal editors. As it is supported on almost every platform such as: Windows, LINUX, MAC OS, IOS, Android, UNIX, AmigaOS, MorphOS etc. it is highly configurable. Because of its modal mode of operation, it differs from most other text editors. It possesses three basic modes: insert mode, normal or command mode and command line mode. It is easily customized by the addition of extensions and configuration which makes it easily adaptable for Python development.
- Free and easily accessible
- Customizable and persistent
- Has a multi-level undo tree
- Extensions are added manually
- Configuration file is modified
- Multi-buffers support simultaneous file editing
- Automated indentation
- Good user interface
- Recognition and conversion of file formats
- Exclusive libraries including wide range of languages
- Comes with own scripting language with powerful integration, search and replace functionality
- Extensive system of plugins
- Allows debugging and refactoring
- Provides two different modes to work: normal and editing mode
- Strings in VIM can be saved and reused
- Used as a text editor only
- No different color for the pop-up option
- Not good for beginners
Key Features: It is also categorized as an open source IDE mainly written with JAVA.Since it is an eclipse plugin, the Java IDE is transformed into Python IDE. Its integration with Django gives a Python framework. It also has keyword auto-completion, good debugging tool, syntax highlighting and indentation.
- Free open source
- Robust IDE feature set
- Auto-completion of codes and analysis
- Smart indentation
- Interactive console shortcuts
- Integrated with Django configuration
- Platform independent
- User interface is not great
6. Visual studio
It is categorized as an IDE, is a full-featured IDE developed by Microsoft. It is compatible with Windows and Mac OS only and comes with free as well as paid versions. It has its own marketplace for extensions. PTVS(Python Tools for Visual Studio) offers various features as in coding for Python development, IntelliSense, debugging, refactoring etc.
- Easy and less tedious installation for development purposes
- Spacious files
- Not supported on Linux
7. Visual studio code
VS code is a code editor and is way more different from VS. It is a free open source code editor developed by Microsoft can be run on platforms such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It has a full-featured editor that is highly configurable with Python compatibility for software development. Python tools can be added to enable coding in Python.VS code is integrated with Git which promotes it to perform operations like push, commit directly from the editor itself. It also has electron framework for Node JS applications running on the Blink browser engine. It is enclosed with smart code completion with function definition, imported modules and variable types. Apart from these, VS code also comes with syntax highlighting, a debugging console and proprietary IntelliSense code auto completion. After installing Python, VS code recognizes Python files and libraries immediately.
- Free and available on every platform
- Small, light-weight but highly extensible
- Huge compatibility
- Has a powerful code management system
- Enables debugging from the editor
- Multi-language support
- Extensive libraries
- Smart user interface and an acceptable layout
- Slow search engine
- Tedious launch time
- Not a native app just like Atom
Key Features: Wing is also one of the powerful IDEs today and comes with a lot of good features. It is an open source IDE used commercially. It also is constituted with a strong framework and has a strong debugger and smart editor for Python development making it fast, accurate and fun to perform. It comes with a 30 day trial version. It supports text driven development with unit test, PyTest and Django testing framework.
- Open source
- Find and go-to definition
- Customizable and extensible
- Auto-code completion
- Quick Troubleshoot
- Source browser shows all the variables used in the script
- Powerful debugger
- Good refactoring
- Not capable of supporting dark themes
- Wing interface is quite intimidating
- Commercial version is expensive
Python-specific IDEs and Editors
1. Anaconda - Jupyter Notebooks
Key Features: It is also an open source IDE with a server-client structure, used to create and edit the codes of a Python. Once it is saved, you can share live code equations, visualizations and text. It has anaconda distribution i.e., libraries are preinstalled so downloading the anaconda itself does the task. It supports Python and R language which are installed by default at installation. This IDE is again used for data science learning. Quite easy to use, it is not just used as an editor but also as an educational tool or presentation. It supports numerical simulation, machine learning visualization and statistical modelling.
- Free Open source
- Good user interface
- Server-client structure
- Educational tool- Data science, Machine learning
- Supports numerical simulation
- Enables to create, write, edit and insert images
- Combines code, text and images
- Integrated libraries - Matplotlib, NumPy, Pandas
- Multi-language support
- Auto code completion
- Sometimes slow loading is experienced
2. Google Colaboratory
Key Features: It is the simplest web IDE used for Python. It gives a free GPU access. Instead of downloading heavy files and tedious launch time, one can directly update the files from Colab to the drive. All you need to do is log in to your google account and open Colab. There is no need for extra setup. Unlike other IDEs no files are required to download. Google provides free computation resources with Colaboratory. It is designed for creating machine learning models. For compilation and execution, all you need to do is to update Python package and get started.
- Available to all
- Code can be run without any interruption
- Highly user interactive
- No heavy file downloads
- Integrated libraries
- Multi-language support
- Updated in google drive
- Update the Python package for execution
- Runs on cloud
- Comments can be added in cells
- Can import Jupiter or IPython notebooks
- All colaboratory files are to be stored in google drive
- Install all specific libraries
- No access to unsaved files once the session is over
- Great supportive community
- Brilliant performance.
- Amazing editing tools
- Robust debugging tool
- Smart code navigation
- Quick and safe refactoring
- Built in developer tools
- Error detection and fix up suggestions
- Customizable interface
- Available in free and paid version
- Slow loading
- Installation is quite difficult and may hang up in between
Key Features: It is an open source IDE supported on all platforms. Ranked as one of the best Python compilers, it supports syntax highlighting, auto completion of codes just like Pycharm. It offers an advanced level of editing, debugging, quick diagnose, troubleshoot and many data exploration features. To get started with Spyder, one needs to install anaconda distribution which is basically used in data science and machine learning. Just like Pycharm it has IntelliSense auto-completion of code. Spyder is built on a structured and powerful framework which makes it one of the best IDE used so far. It is most commonly used for scientific development.
- Free open source IDE
- Quick troubleshoot
- Active framework
- Smart editing and debugging
- Syntax is automatically highlighted
- Auto completion of codes
- Good for data science and machine learning
- Structured framework
- Integrates common Python data science libraries like SciPy, NumPy, and Matplotlib
- Finds and eliminates bottlenecks
- Explores and edits variables directly from GUI
- Performs well in multi-language editor and auto completion mode
- Spyder is not capable to configure a specific warning
- Too many plugins degrades its performance
Key Features: Thonny is another IDE best suited for beginners for Python development and provides a good virtual environment. It is supported on all platforms. It gives a simple debugger with F5, F6 and F7 keys for debugging. Also, Thonny supports highlighting errors, good representation of function calls, auto code completion and smart indentation. It even allows the developers to configure their code and shell commands. by default, in Thonny Python is pre-installed as it downloads with its own version of Python.
- Simple Graphical user interface.
- Free open source IDE
- Best for beginners
- Simple debugger with F5, F6, F7 Keys
- Tackles issues with Python interpreters
- Highlights syntax error
- Auto-completion of code
- Good representation of function calls
- User can change reference mode easily
- Step through expression evaluation
- Reply and resolve to comments
- Interface is not that good for developers
- Confined to text editing
- No template support
- Slow plugin creation
- Too basic IDE for software development
Which Python IDE is right for you?
Requirements vary from programmer to programmer. It is one’s own choice to pick the right tool that is best suited for the task at hand. Beginners need to use a simple tool with few customizations whereas experts require tools with advanced features to bring new updates. A few suggestions are listed below:-
- Beginners should start with IDLE and Thonny as they do not have complex features and are pretty easy to learn.
- For data science learners Jupyter Notebooks and Google Colaboratory is preferred.
Generally, large-scale enterprises prefer the paid versions of IDEs like PyCharm, Atom, Sublime Text etc. in order to get extensive service support from the company. Also, they provide easy finance options and manpower. On the other hand, middle and small scale enterprises tend to look for open source tools which provides them with excellent features. Some of such IDEs are Spyder, Pydev, IDLE and Visual Studio.
Today, Python stands out as one of the most popular programming languages worldwide. IDE being a program dedicated to software development has made it easier for developers to build, execute, and debug their codes. Code editors can only be used for editing codes whereas an IDE is a feature-rich editor which has an inbuilt text editor, compiler, debugging tool and libraries. Different IDEs and code editors are detailed in this article along with their merits and demerits. Some are suitable for beginners because of their lightweight nature and simplicity like IDLE, Thonny whereas experts require advanced featured ones for building software.
For learning purposes say data science, machine learning Jupyter, and Google Colaboratory are strongly recommended. Again there are large-scale enterprises that prefer PyCharm, Atom, Sublime Text for software development. On the other hand, small-scale enterprises prefer Spyder, Pydev, IDLE, and Visual Studio. Hence, the type of IDE or code editor that should be used completely depends upon the requirement of the programmer. To gain more knowledge about Python tips and tricks, check our Python tutorial and get a good hold over coding in Python by joining the Knowledgehut python programming course online.