Even though technically we can use any text editor like Notepad, we still need some decent tools to write, execute and manage Python code.
There are lots of tools out there, open source, paid and some are packaged within the Python distributions.
From developers perspective, I would like to highlight few freely available tools, keeping in mind, ease of use, availability and most importantly debugging and presentation features. For the purpose of this article I’m going with Anaconda Python Distribution to demonstrate these tools. You can choose other distributions or download Python directly from https://www.python.org/ as well.
So, let’s go ahead and download Anaconda Python Distribution from https://www.anaconda.com/. I’m using Windows Laptop (Windows 10 Pro) and opted to download 64bit version of Anaconda Python Distribution. While there are 2 major versions, Python 2.7 and Python 3.7, go ahead and download the Python 3.7. I will write a short article on the major differences between 2.7 and 3.7 later.
Tip: If you are trying to experiment Python in your organization, please check with your organization’s requirements and see what distribution is supported and maintained.
Assuming that your download is successful and you have installed Anaconda successfully with all the default options we will explore few free tools to write, execute, manage and debug Python code. With the latest installation package from Anaconda, I have noticed that Anaconda team had removed the option to automatically download Visual Studio Code. It’s a not a big a deal because you can download it separately.
Tip: At the time of installation even though it suggests not to select the PATH variable option, please do select it (Checkbox) cause it solves some of the issues you will encounter later.
Visual Studio Community Edition – I’m a big fan of Visual Studio since its release in 97 and it was easy for me to start.vIf you are not familiar with Visual Studio go ahead and install the Free Community edition from here. The Visual Studio Community edition has all the feature you need to develop all kinds of apps, websites, cross-platform apps and off course Python applications. At the time installation if you have opted to install Python support it actually installs Microsoft Python Distribution. You can use this for all your Python needs but for the purpose of this article I would like to use Anaconda distribution.
Visual Studio Code – Apart from Visual Studio which I feel like a heavy weight (I love it by the way), Microsoft offers another light weight tool called Visual Studio Code. Download the tools here and did I forget to mention that it is Free as well.
Spyder and Jupyter – Another interesting thing about using Anaconda distribution is, when installed it actually installs 2 additional tools as well, Spyder and Jupyter. By the way “py” in most these names represent Python.
Spyder is a good tool similar to Visual Studio Code and Jupyter mainly provides a Notebook interface, good for presentation, sharing, teaching and self-documenting. By the way when Jupyter is launched first it initializes a light weight webserver (local only) running from your laptop and interface is browser based.
To get an idea and see how all these tools in action, please watch this quick video. Hope this short article and video gave you some insight on the tools you can use to develop Python application. Stay tuned for more DIY Python articles.