An Intro to Python Editors

The Python programming language comes with its own built-in Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called IDLE. The name, IDLE, supposedly came from the actor, Eric Idle, who was a part of the Monty Python troupe, which is what Python itself is named after.


IDLE comes with Python on Windows and some Linux variants. You may need to install IDLE separately on your particular flavor of Linux or on Mac if you plan to use the Python that came with the operating system. You should check out the Python website for full instructions on how to do so as each operating system is different.


On that last point, breakpoints tell the debugger where to pause execution. Debugging is the process of going through your code step-by-step to figure out how it works or to fix an issue with your code.


IDLE itself has other attributes that are useful, such as access to Python documentation, easy access to the source code via the Class Browser, and much more. However, IDLE is not the only way to code in Python. There are Python many useful IDEs in there. You can also use a text editor if you prefer.


PyCharm and WingIDE both have free and paid versions of their programs. The paid versions have many more features, but if you are just starting out, their free offerings are quite nice. VS Code and Spyder are free.


VS Code can also be used for coding in many other languages. Note that to use VS Code effectively with Python, you will need to install a Python extension. You can also use the PyDev plugin for Eclipse to program in Python.


Other popular editors for Python include SublimeText, vim, emacs, and even Notepad++. These editors may not be 100% up-to-date on the syntax of the language, but you can use them for multiple programming languages.


Wrapping Up

There are lots of Python code editors to choose from. IDLE is nice in that it comes with Python and is written in Python, so you can actually learn a lot just by looking at its source code. PyCharm and VS Code are very popular right now. Wing IDE used to be more popular than it is today, but I think it is still really great. All of these tools are good, but you should give them a try to see which one works the best for you.


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