Adventures in Machine Learning

Python IDEs and Editors: Choosing the Best Coding Environment

What Are IDEs and Code Editors?

Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It is widely used by developers and data scientists for a variety of applications, from building websites to machine learning algorithms.

However, writing Python code can be challenging without the right tools. That’s where coding environments come in.

In this article, we will explore what IDEs and code editors are, their features, and why a good coding environment is essential. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge to choose the right coding environment that best suits your Python programming needs.

What Are IDEs and Code Editors?

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software application that provides comprehensive tools for software development. It is an all-in-one solution that includes an editor, build, execution, debugging, source control, and other features that aid software development.

A code editor is a software application that lets you write and edit code. Unlike an IDE, it does not have all the features bundled together. Instead, it is designed solely for editing code and has fewer features compared to an IDE.

Tools Included in IDEs

IDEs offer a more comprehensive development experience than code editors. They provide the necessary tools needed for a complete software development process.

Here are the tools included in most IDEs:

  • Editor: An editor is the primary tool in an IDE. It lets you write and edit code comfortably.
  • Build: Most languages require compilation or building before the code can be run. An IDE simplifies this process and allows you to build and run code at the click of a button.
  • Execution: An IDE lets you run your code in the same environment as your build, making it easier to debug and test your code.
  • Debugging: Debugging tools help you find and fix errors in your code. IDEs have sophisticated debuggers that make it easier to locate problems in your code.
  • Source Control: Source control is a critical aspect of software development. IDEs provide tools that make it easier to manage your code repository.

Features of a Good Coding Environment

A good coding environment is essential for efficient and effective software development. Here are some features of a good coding environment:

  • Save, Reload, Run Code: A good coding environment should let you save your code as you work, reload it quickly, and run it immediately.
  • Debugging: A good coding environment should provide robust debugging tools that help you identify and fix errors in your code.
  • Syntax Highlighting: Syntax highlighting improves the readability of your code by highlighting different aspects of the language. It makes it easier to understand your code at a glance.
  • Automatic Code Formatting: A good coding environment should provide automatic code formatting that helps you write clean and consistent code. It makes your code more readable and easier to maintain.


In conclusion, IDEs and code editors are essential tools for software development. They offer varying levels of features and tools that aid in the software development process.

Choosing the right coding environment can be challenging, but understanding your needs and the features available will help you make an informed decision. Remember, a good coding environment should provide essential features such as saving, reloading, and running code, debugging, syntax highlighting, and automatic code formatting.

With these in mind, you can choose the right IDE or code editor that best suits your Python programming needs.

General Editors and IDEs with Python Support

  1. Eclipse + PyDev

    Eclipse is a popular, open-source integrated development environment (IDE) that supports various programming languages. PyDev is a plugin for Eclipse that offers Python-specific features such as code completion, debugging, and code analysis. PyDev also supports Django and Jython, which makes it a versatile tool for Python developers who work with these frameworks.

  2. Sublime Text

    Sublime Text is a popular code editor that offers various features such as multi-line editing, powerful search functionality, and a distraction-free mode. While Sublime Text does not have built-in Python-specific features, it supports a variety of plugins that allow for customized Python development.

  3. Atom

    Atom is an open-source code editor that offers support for various programming languages, including Python. Atom is built on Electron, which allows it to be run on multiple platforms. Atom has a vast range of built-in features including syntax highlighting, smart autocompletion, and the ability to split the editor into multiple windows. Atom also has an extensive library of community-built plugins that allow for customized Python development.

  4. GNU Emacs

    GNU Emacs is an extensible, customizable, free text editor that has been around for over 40 years. Python developers can also take advantage of Emacs’ powerful features, such as syntax highlighting, code folding, and autocompletion. Additionally, Emacs also offers a Python-specific mode called python-mode which provides various useful features, including indentation highlighting and error highlighting.

  5. Vi / Vim

    Vi and Vim are two of the most popular modal code editors available. They have been around for over four decades and offer various features such as syntax highlighting, code folding, and autocompletion. Vim, in particular, has extensive Python support through the use of VIMScripts. These scripts provide a wide range of functionality, including automatic indentation and syntax highlighting.

  6. Visual Studio

    Visual Studio is a sophisticated and feature-rich IDE that supports several programming languages, including Python. It has a large plugin library and offers capabilities like debugging, code refactoring, and code completion. Visual Studio also supports the Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS) plugin, which provides advanced Python-specific features such as code profiling and visual debugging.

  7. Visual Studio Code

    Visual Studio Code is a free, open-source code editor that also supports multiple programming languages. Visual Studio Code has become increasingly popular over the years due to its intuitive user interface, customizable settings, and extensive plugin library. With the Python extension installed, Python developers can take advantage of features like debugging, linting, autocomplete, and Jupyter Notebook integration.

Python-specific Editors and IDEs

  1. PyCharm

    PyCharm is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designed specifically for Python. It offers a range of features, including intelligent coding assistance, code inspection, and debugging. PyCharm is also equipped with built-in support for popular Python frameworks like Django and Flask. PyCharm offers a free community edition as well as a more advanced professional edition, which includes more advanced features like remote development.

  2. Spyder

    Spyder is an open-source scientific Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designed for data science with Python. It comes pre-installed in the Anaconda distribution and offers features like advanced debugging and a visual profiler, making it an ideal choice for data scientists working with Python.

  3. Thonny

    Thonny is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designed specifically for beginners. It offers a simple and intuitive interface that makes it easy to learn Python programming. Thonny’s built-in debugger helps new programmers understand and debug their code, and its syntax highlighting and autocompletion features make coding easier and more efficient.

In conclusion, several code editors and IDEs support Python programming, each offering varying levels of functionality and features. While general code editors like Sublime Text and Atom offer Python support as an added feature, Python-specific IDEs like PyCharm and Spyder are designed solely for Python programming.

The right code editor or IDE can make all the difference in helping you write efficient and effective Python code, so it is important to choose the one that best suits your needs. By evaluating the available options and considering the features and functionality you need, you can make an informed decision about which code editor or IDE is right for you.

Recommendation for New Python Developers

If you’re a new Python developer, it’s essential to use an IDE that makes coding easier and more efficient. Moreover, you want your IDE to have some features that help you learn the language.

PyCharm is an excellent choice for new Python developers. PyCharm is designed explicitly for Python development, and it provides several features that facilitate the learning process.

For starters, the IDE has a clear and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate. It also has tools that highlight syntax errors and suggest auto-completions, which are great for new learners.

Another benefit of PyCharm is that it integrates with popular Python frameworks like Flask and Django, and its debugger and test runner make it easy to test and debug Python code. PyCharm offers a free Community Edition that has all the features needed to get started with Python programming.

Recommendation for Text Editor Users

If you are a text editor user, it’s essential to choose an IDE that feels familiar and requires little effort to learn. Visual Studio Code is an excellent choice for text editor users looking to move into the Python IDE space.

Visual Studio Code has a simple user interface with a vast range of features that make it a powerful Python editor. The editor provides important features for Python development, such as syntax highlighting, linting, debugging, code analysis, and a visual interface for Jupyter Notebooks.

Visual Studio Code also has a rich library of extensions that make it possible to personalize the environment to suit your specific needs. The Python extension for Visual Studio Code offers many useful features like autocomplete, code formatting and refactoring, and debugging.

Additionally, Visual Studio Code is free and open-source, making it a cost-effective option for text editor users looking for an easy transition to the world of IDEs.

Recommendation for Software Developers

If you are a software developer looking for an IDE that gives you complete control and flexibility over your Python development, then the Sublime Text is an excellent choice for you. Sublime Text is a powerful and feature-rich code editor with cross-platform support.

It has a clean, minimalistic interface that is highly customizable, and its speed rivals most IDEs. It comes with many features that make it great for Python development, such as autocomplete, syntax highlighting, split editing, go-to definition, and multiple selections. Sublime Text does require the addition of plugins for specific functions, such as linting and debugging.

That being said, many Python developers use Sublime Text for its customization capabilities and unparalleled speed. Sublime Text is not free, but it offers an unlimited free evaluation period. Also, Sublime Text offers a one-time licensing fee that provides access to future updates and upgrades.


Choosing the right Python IDE or code editor is essential for efficient and enjoyable coding. We’ve outlined recommendations for different kinds of users.

New Python developers should opt for an IDE like PyCharm that offers a simple interface with helpful features that facilitate learning. Text editor users should transition to Visual Studio Code as its features make it easy to customize while offering all the features you’d find in an IDE.

Software developers looking for control should lean towards Sublime Text as it provides great customizability and speed. Ultimately, the choice of IDE or code editor depends on personal preference.

Regardless of your choice, it’s essential to use the one that enhances your productivity and allows you to achieve your development goals.

In conclusion, choosing the right IDE or code editor is crucial for efficient and enjoyable Python development. With various options available, making the right choice is essential. For new Python developers, PyCharm is an excellent choice due to its friendly user interface and features that facilitate the learning process.

Text editor users looking to transition to an IDE should opt for Visual Studio Code, which offers all the essential features while providing a customizable user interface. Software developers seeking total control over their development should try Sublime Text, which is known for its speed and customizability.

Ultimately, the IDE or code editor of choice should enhance productivity and help achieve development goals.

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