For Python, there are several amazing open-source as well as paid IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) available enriched with tons of useful features. IDEs provide an easy-to-use environment for the development of small as well as large projects. Along with Python compiler, it provides various other functionalities like Debugging, project manager for managing files, version control, add-on extensions, and many more. No particular IDE is the best because each IDE has a specific purpose associated with it. So here are my 5 favorite IDEs for Python development. Please note that the IDEs in the list are not in any particular preference or ranking order.
In this article, you will explore:
- Which are the 5 Best IDEs for Python development
- Which IDE you should choose to depend upon your purpose of use
- What are the pros and cons of each of the 5 IDEs
Visual Studio Code
Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is one of the most popular IDEs among web developers. Day by day, it is gaining more popularity in the programming community, and I must say it has been impressive so far for me. It is a free, open-source text-editor that offers you a feel of working in a full-fledged IDE while, on the other hand, it is incredibly responsive and fast.
It is often crucial for projects to keep track of the changes in their project files incrementally for which VS Code offers an integrated version control support. It also provides an integrated terminal unlike some other IDEs in this list, which helps increase productivity. However, If you are a data scientist who requires good data visualization capabilities or you cannot compromise on any of the features a complete IDE should have, the VS Code might not be the right choice for you.
- Customizable and easy-to-use
- Fast and responsive
- Integrated version control and terminal
- Perfect for web-development
- Not full-fledged IDE like PyCharm
- Not suitable for working with data and visualizations
A jupyter notebook is a powerful tool for exploring and visualizing data. It is a must-have tool for data scientists as it increases your productivity like no other while working with data. It supports markdown where you can add an HTML component containing an Image or a video within the notebook itself. It is also suitable for presentations where you can explain the code then and there. Jupyter notebook has a concept of “cell.” So you write a piece of code in cells, and each cell can execute individually. Individual cell execution lets you visualize and observe your data at each stage of the program.
For any other kind of development, Jupyter has not been found useful because of its inability to support version control and difficulty to maintain the project as it gets complex. It is not at all a full-fledged IDE that can be useful for software development. Nevertheless, It is a powerful tool for someone who needs data visualization.
- Great for visualizations.
- It is possible to create documentation within the code itself.
- Can run and output small blocks of code from a large file
- Perfect for data scientists and working with data in general
- Does not provide a full-fledged IDE functionality
- Not suitable for web/software development
- Hard to maintain as the project gets complex
PyCharm is a complete IDE for professional Python developers. Jetbrains has come up with yet again satisfying product for all Pythonistas. It provides excellent code completion, code navigation, debugging, and has just about everything you’ll ever need for Python development. It comes in two editions: While the commercial edition is free, Professional edition is a paid version with extra features. It is useful for any kind of Python development from Python web apps through data mining to backend application development. It just works for all. It also has excellent plugin support.
Although PyCharm is an excellent choice for an intermediate or advanced programmer, It has a steep learning curve which a beginner would like to stay away from. Moreover, It is not worthwhile to use a heavy-weight full-fledged IDE for simple code snippets.
- Complete full-fledged IDE
- Excellent plugin support
- Works for all your need
- Better code completion than other IDEs
- Professional edition, which offers a lot of useful features, is paid.
- Heavy-weight IDE, not useful for beginners
- Steep learning curve
Sublime text is instead a ridiculously simple yet powerful text editor than an IDE for Python development. It can be used as a simple text editor but counts into a lightweight Python IDE category with all the essential features. It is one of the most used editors in the programming community due to its highly customizable environment and lightweight, beautiful interface. Its Package control is the most appealing feature of Sublime text, where you can easily download thousands of different packages built by its vibrant community to customize your experience. It has several settings that you can edit in a user settings JSON file.
It is not as powerful as PyCharm IDE because it is not explicitly built for Python development. It is not probably as feature-rich as VSCode, which has an integrated terminal and version control functionality. But it is a very useful lightweight IDE for software and web development because of its ease of use and responsiveness.
- Ridiculously simple UI yet powerful
- Lightweight and responsive
- Package control and strong community
- Highly customizable
- Not full-fledged IDE
- No integrated version control and terminal
- Need to dig deep to realize its full potential
Python Integrated Development and Learning Environment, more commonly referred to as IDLE, is a very basic IDE which comes out of the box default IDE as part of the Python installation package for most operating systems. It is perfect for a beginner who is starting with Python programming as other professional IDEs can be intimidating and challenging to get the hang of while starting. Moreover, all the professional functionality IDEs provide are mostly unimportant for beginners. I had started my Python journey with this very IDE.
It is effortless to use. It comes with two interfaces one is an IDLE interactive shell, and the other is a file editor where you can write and run a Python file with ease. An interactive shell is a great place to start coding. It allows you to write a single line of code and get the output in the shell without saving or running a Python file. Eventually, when you are ready to write a somewhat large code, IDLE provides a file editor with useful features such as syntax highlighting, auto-indent, and code completion, which we can notice in professional IDEs. When you start working on a big project, other IDEs on this list are more feasible options. However, I would recommend starting with Python IDLE as it doesn’t require you to download or configure anything.
- Extremely simple to use
- Interactive shell
- Best for beginners
- No hassle of downloading or configuring as it comes preinstalled with Python
- Not ideal for web/software development
- Very minimal IDE features as compared to other professional IDEs
- No version control or extensions store available
As Python is a multi-purpose programming language, There are different IDEs available for different application purposes. I have tried to give you my top 5 picks of IDE, which can be used based on your custom requirements. I have tried to cover the most suitable IDEs for various applications.
Lastly, I would say choose your IDE wisely because you are going to spend most of your time working in an IDE, developing a program. So it should engage you, make you feel comfortable with its interface and make sure you customize the interface, look and feel based on your preferences as all of the above IDEs provide you with tons of options for customization. I hope you have enjoyed my top picks. Thanks for your time.