An Integrated Development Environment is a compiler-text editor at its core, designed to provide coders and programmers a one-stop tool for all of their writing, compiling, and debugging needs.
There are several IDEs out there in the marketplace today, and all of them offer some unique features and advantages.
In this post, we will review ten of the best IDEs for Python programming, compare their features, and weigh out their pros and cons to help you find one that meets your needs.
10 Best Python IDE & Code Editors for 2022
Visual Studio Code is an open-source, robust IDE developed by Microsoft, available for Linux, Mac OS, and every Windows platform.
VS Code is lightweight and highly customizable, allowing for source code editing and extending with your very own libraries, making switching to VS Code very easy and a two-minute process.
This ease of accessibility, coupled with the beginner-friendly interface, makes VS Code one of the best and no-hassle IDEs available today and very popular with many developers.
VS Code supports other languages as well. In fact, it was created using “electron,” an application for writing C++ or Java apps, and works for Python only after installing a Python extension.
These extensions are a strong point in favor of VS Code, as its marketplace always has an excellent stock of extensions available. On top of that, the best part is that most of these extensions are community-generated and free to try out.
This user-generated community built around VS Code is fostered even further by the fact that many beginners who start on a Windows system initially encounter VS Code as the only available IDE. In other words, the community behind VS Code is massive and constantly growing.
Another striking feature contained within this seemingly lightweight app is a ‘zen’ mode. It hides your desktop and other windows except for the file you’re currently working on. For lots of developers, a cluttered desktop often causes a decrease in productivity and hampers manual debugging.
VS Code has Intellisense, which is Microsoft’s code completion algorithm. You can use Intellisense dependably in many cases where many repetitive loops need to be coded. It is not flawless, but the system does indeed help in increasing your productivity.
Microsoft is also one of the biggest companies in the world with a very good support team, and hence dependable in many situations.
- Available on all platforms
- ‘Zen’ mode
- Good interface
- It is not Python-specific
- Without marketplace access, it is almost like any other basic code text editor
- It does not work offline if the marketplace is not accessible.
#2 Atom IDE
Atom is another highly modifiable code text editor that boasts a multitude of features. It is connected to GitHub, one of the biggest online communities for code, and has many extensions available that make Atom highly versatile, depending on your setup. It has an extremely minimal interface which is preferred by a lot of developers.
It is not meant solely for Python as it can handle other languages that many developers dabble in. You will need to install an extension and a library to the IDE to enable Python support. It will not run Python code out of the box.
But it’s not all bad. Atom boasts several other features that improve productivity and enable fast cross-application processing. Atom has a neat interface that is easy to navigate and makes keeping track of multiple projects easy. This can help improve your productivity as well.
The biggest point in favor of Atom is the facility of downloading plugins or editing the source code according to your needs. The only con is that to create a downloadable plugin, the developer must be well versed with Java and C++ as Atom is not written in Python.
This is not a big problem, though, since most common issues faced by programmers and developers can be solved easily by installing plugins from GitHub.
There are several hundred thousand plugins being generated and downloaded at this very second, and most of them are very different for a large variety of uses.
It supports multiple parallel windows with different codes running simultaneously, which can really improve your workflow if your projects generally require more than one program to run at once.
It has some of the best auto-completion algorithms for code, and the syntax highlighting and identification for formatting improves your speed while going through code. While the base application does not have a good debugger or compiler, the provision of source code editing has allowed enterprising developers to create free or even paid versions of debuggers and compilers for Atom. In other words, endless customizability is limited only by your ingenuity.
Finally, the support from the GitHub community makes Atom one of the most viable and preferred IDEs for a lot of developers and programmers.
- Very robust auto-completion algorithm
- Great community
- Great file saving and cloud saving options
- Can run multiple codes at once
- Endless customization
- Browser-based leads to bloating
- A non-native app may cause memory issues
- Need to download lots of bulky plugins for full functionality
#3 PyCharm IDE
PyCharm has emerged as one of the leading IDEs available today, partly due to its amazing jam-packed features and because it was the pioneer behind syntax highlighting and auto-completion algorithms, something that has become a norm for developers today.
PyCharm has two versions: a subscription-based professional module for professional developers and a community-based open-source module for beginners and people who code in their free time. The professional version boasts several features not easily available in most IDEs out there.
Developed by JetBrains, this IDE has a sleek design with amazing features such as navigational shortcuts, an intelligent editor, and some of the best auto-completion algorithms out there (also one of the first auto-completion algorithms). PyCharm is truly an IDE as it works straight out of the box and can highlight syntax and format code, run it and debug it without installing a single plugin or extension.
Its interface is truly a sight to behold as loads of strings of complicated text and code become color coordinated and hyperlinked to allow easy navigation automatically. The most striking moment will be if you load your python libraries from an old text editor into PyCharm.
This allows for manual debugging to be a possibility, but PyCharm also boasts of one of the strongest debuggers available. The highlighting and neat arrangement is aided by its code editor, which formats the code, adds indents and punctuation wherever needed or forgotten by the developer, and has several more ease of life features.
The editing software ensures that irritating nitpick bugs are smoothened out of your program. Therefore, you will only need to focus on the grave syntax errors and compilation errors when debugging code.
To PyCharm’s credit, the differences in features of the professional version and the open-source version are not much. Even though the price for the subscription is high comparatively, many developers choose to support the company behind PyCharm. Developers find it worth the money because it gives you access to a massive marketplace of libraries and extensions, complimentary with the subscription.
- Excellent interface with easy navigation
- First auto-completion algorithm
- Strong robust debuggers
- Cross-platform support
- Wide variety of tools and features
- Editable interface
- It has an open-source version as well
- You will have to pay for PyCharm to unlock full features.
- The size of the IDE is relatively large due to preloaded extensions.
- PyCharm initialization is slightly complex
#4 Spyder IDE
Spyder IDE is one of the most versatile and strong compilers in the market currently. It is another IDE with multifunctionality that is customizable according to personal usage.
Spyder is a perfect IDE for scientists, as it has a compelling set of scientific tools as plugins available for free. It is also used by developers and people who code in order to develop Python-based programs. However, it’s important to note that Spyder has a steep learning curve and isn’t suitable for beginners.
That said, seasoned programmers will find the navigation and shortcuts fairly intuitive, and it takes little to no time for them to get used to the GUI of Spyder.
This level of an IDE is perfect for someone who is slightly experienced with whatever language they are working on, as it does not provide extreme maneuverability, like other entrants Atom, PyCharm, or even Thonny.
The developers have utilized this avenue to take advantage of the nuances in debugging, compiling, and console information. The level of expertise required to navigate the debug menus is considerably higher than other IDEs.
Spyder provides inputs many different unconventional types of inputs and devices paired with the scientific toolkit you can download for free. It also has several other extensions and libraries that make Spyder an invaluable tool for scientists, physicists, and data engineers. It can help automate a lot of the processes and ease the load of manual calculation through complex algorithms.
Spyder IDE is open source and allows for source code interaction. It is also not very memory intensive and runs fairly smoothly even on older devices. The code may take time to execute in the event of large, multi-file programs, but the Spyder compiler is fairly robust and also one of the most worked on compilers.
So, any issues developers come across are patched quickly and permanent solutions are established by the community.
Because of this very same community, many algorithms and software (such as for detectors) have been uploaded to the online plugin marketplace, and most are free. This greatly helps scientists who want to write such programs but find that they already exist.
Spyder’s library is extensive and also unconventional for application developers, meaning that the usage of Spyder is widespread and also varied as opposed to its peers and other multifunctional open-source IDEs.
- Active community
- Great for scientists, engineers, analytics etc
- Open Source
- Lightweight, memory-intensive prevention
- Diverse plugin market
- Great for developing applications or programs
- Not beginner-friendly
- It might be difficult to navigate for people used to hyperlinked IDEs
- The console runs code in real-time, which is difficult for newbies.
#5 Thonny IDE
Thonny is an IDE geared towards learning Python primarily and is best suited for beginners and schools that teach Python. It rewards exploration and is suited for people who have no prior experience writing Python.
The virtual environment is fairly easy to navigate and will remind you of a classic Microsoft interface. Thonny is written in Python and is a native application which means it is not memory intensive.
Thonny has a special feature that lets you track the activity of the compiler and look at how the different shell commands affect the variables. The debugger is one of the most straightforward ones we’ve come across and is placed neatly and conveniently on different function buttons for ease of access.
It auto highlights common errors even before running the code. Thonny IDE can identify and format variables, telling you about the changes it has made so that you learn about your coding and get real-time feedback for your programs.
The debugger is also extremely efficient, meaning that most code is fairly easy to debug as Thonny goes over your bugs line by line. The GUI that the debugger operates in is sleek and works without any extra polish. It is not memory intensive, and the entire IDE takes up minimal space on your ROM.
It is very welcoming for users who do not know much about interacting with PATH or other Python interpreters. The user can also add different modules and plugins of their choice to customize their Thonny IDE according to their preferred usage.
But this heavy dependence on GUI and the virtual environment often results in veteran developers and programmers finding it too cumbersome to navigate through. Some developers might find the lack of easy personalization a hurdle in their work and affect their productivity.
The text editor is slightly clunky and outdated, but the auto-editing algorithms are robust and efficient.
- Best IDE for beginners
- Best IDE for grasping and learning Python
- Fairly customizable
- Useful GUI
- Good and accessible debugger
- Auto editing, completion, and highlighting algorithms are efficient
- GUI usage heavy
- It may be cumbersome for veterans
- Not suited for official usage or hardcore development
Sublime Text is another premium IDE that is geared toward cross-platform development and supports a multitude of programming languages. It has a great text editor with all the state-of-the-art auto-completion, highlighting, and formatting algorithms with a surprisingly high success rate.
It is best suited for writing C++, but it has an excellent Python base and also a Python API. It also supports the latest version of HTML, making it a one-stop IDE for website development as well as other markup-related applications. You can easily create websites, applications, and other executables with Sublime Text IDE.
The marketplace is well stocked and has a good selection of free plugins, which expand the versatility and potential uses of Sublime Text IDE.
Sublime Text IDE lacks a meaningful and contributive online community, but it makes up for it with its own ingenious and well-designed plugins. Using extensions, you can make Sublime Text IDE run on your browser, adding to its prowess in web development.
Sublime Text IDE has a multilevel undo option, meaning that you can debug and retract faulty code at several levels, depending on where you queue and where you loop. Its debugging features are robust, and it has a constant helpline service in the event of any unexpected bugs. Sublime Text supports multiple languages and also offers support for all languages it supports.
The interface of Sublime Text is extremely attractive, with different themes and several personalization options available. It also supports multi-window and multiple workspaces inside one executable console.
The only qualm some people might have with Sublime is that it is a bit too expensive and still charges some money for certain essential plugins on top of that.
- Good multi-select tool, GUI
- Beautiful themes and aesthetics
- GOTO feature for indexing
- Debug capabilities
- High performance and great API
- Customizable interface
- Personalisation options
- Best for cross-platform projects
- Expensive and only for professionals
- It could be intimidating as it is built for professionals
- GUI dependent, not shortcut friendly
Vim is an open-source text editor which can be used to write programs in multiple languages and is adjustable and versatile in its usage. It has a Python extension and several Python libraries and nowadays is considered one of the best lightweight IDEs with cross-platform capabilities as well as several useful features.
Vim IDE is not marketed towards newbies and is based on a very active community of coders who maintain the open-source community and categorically release updates and patches. There are hundreds of free plugins to choose from, making VIM one of the most customizable text editing IDEs out there.
Vim can be used separately as a command-line console, but it also has its own virtual environment in a standalone application.
The only gripe with Vim is that it takes effort to configure – whether you use it to code in Python or any other language. That said, with the right guide, beginners can set it up without too much hassle.
- Vim is very robust and persistent
- An excellent marketplace of plugins and libraries
- Powerful search tool
- Good highlight algorithms
- No hyperlinking and debugging
- Mainly a text editor, IDE later
- Difficult to grasp for beginners and even veterans
#8 IDLE IDE
IDLE is Python’s very own bespoke IDE and is created in Python. Since it is a native application, it runs best for Python but does contain the capability to edit other languages.
You might be wondering why the official IDE for Python is so low on the list, and that is because this list is not in any particular order. Although IDLE is lacking in a lot of futuristic features, it more than makes up for it with its amazing compiler and powerful debugging capabilities.
The GUI is very minimal and requires a fair bit of prior knowledge about Python to navigate easily. That said, you can easily learn the virtual environment as it is not too complex.
Since it is written in Python, it runs Python best and is extremely lightweight. The GUI and the application take minimal space on your ROM, and opening the application opens a shell command console.
The newer updates and retroactive plugins have added auto highlighting and formatting capabilities to IDLE and have made it a viable and competing choice amongst the others on the list.
- Minimal, lightweight
- Native to Python
- Automatic indentation and formatting
- Powerful debugger
- Powerful compiler
- Lacks features on the vanilla application
- Large project files do not compile or store well
- Not suited for professional development
#9 PyDev IDE
Eclipse Open Source code editor has been a staple for many coders and programmers for many years, and with the consistently rising popularity of PyDev, it seems as if the editor will remain in use for years to come.
PyDev allows massive flexibility and customizability and is easily one of the most popular IDEs being used currently. The fact that premium features are available free of cost and are being developed by a dedicated team of computer scientists should be reason enough for you to try PyDev as your one-stop solution for application development.
- Robust, lightweight
- Not native and may cause bloating
- Lacks certain features
- UI is clunky
#10 Wing IDE
Wing IDE was written by a bunch of computer engineering graduates who wanted a modular and adjustable IDE for their code writing. The result is a highly robust IDE with one of the best debuggers in the market and other features that come at a hefty price tag.
Wing IDE works on a membership basis and provides a free trial period for 30 days with no questions asked refunds. The developers are really confident in their product since navigation, highlighting, and editing is extremely smooth in Wing. The virtual environment has amazing accessibility, and intuitive GUI design is an added plus.
It’s a nice IDE to choose if you carry out test-driving development using frameworks such as pytest, nose, and doctest. You can try Wing Pro for free. However, you will need to pay for Wing after the trial ends. It is compatible with all operating systems.
- Excellent debugger
- Impressive testing capabilities
- Compatible with all operating systems
- Pricey for students or enthusiasts
- Lacks excessive customization as it is not open-source
The above list includes a comprehensive evaluation of the different features available in the cornucopia of IDEs available in the market today.
There is no such thing as the “best IDE” since every developer has different skills, preferences, and needs. With the pros and cons of each IDE weighed out for you, finding the right IDE should be easy.
We conclude that the best IDE for you depends on what you intend to use it for. Hope this post helped you, and happy coding!