What are the best Python IDEs and code editors?

Julian Witkowski - Content Manager at Sunscrapers

Julian Witkowski

1 September 2021, 13 min read

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What's inside

01 What Makes Python a Good Coding Environment?

02 Integrated Development Environment (IDE) vs Code Editor

a What is an IDE?

b What is a Code Editor?

03 Top Python Code Editors

a 1. Visual Studio Code

b 2. Sublime Text

c 3. Vim Code Editor

d 4. Atom

e 5. Notepad ++

04 Top Python IDEs

a 1. PyCharm

b 2. PyDev

c 3. Visual Studio

05 Sunscrapers Python Tips

a Which IDE is best for Python beginners?

b What is the most common Python IDE?

c How to debug Python code in Atom?

06 TLDR: Best Python IDEs and Code Editors

a IDE in two sentences

b Code Editor in two sentences

c Best Python IDEs

d Best Python Code Editors

One of the most popular programming languages - Python turned 30 this year. Released in 1991 Python is an object-oriented and high-level programming language. Python is also a multi-purpose language. The language is able to serve procedural, functional and object-oriented purposes. Over the years the language has matured. The community and the number of developers programming in Python has grown. According to Tiobe Index, it is the second most popular programming language in the world. 
Python is very close to our hearts and is coded in the origins of our company. Over the years we have completed plenty of successful projects with Python.

As active members of the Python community we believe that sharing is caring. Today we would like to share the knowledge and experience of our CTO - Przemek Lewandowski and two of our developers - Bartosz Chronowski and Rafał Śliwiński. They helped me to complete the list of the best Python IDEs and code editors for Mac and Windows. Years of experience have taught them that a good IDE is like the Excalibur. An IDE may not have magic forces, but it definitely holds ultimate power to help you with your projects. Below you will find their top recommendations for all the Python developers - from a beginner to a pro.

computer screen displaying a code editor

What Makes Python a Good Coding Environment?

Before we start, a few words for the developers who are just getting started with Python. If you would like to jump straight to the list of the best Python IDEs and Code Editors click here. Let's take a look at why Python is a great programming language and environment.

  • Python is easy to learn and use - It is one of the most accessible programming languages. The creator of it  - Guido van Rossum - made sure to design it as a multi-purpose programming language. The language syntax is more like the English language.

To proof our point let’s compare “Hello World” in different programming languages:


#include <stdio.h>

int main(void)
    printf("hello, world\n");


class HelloWorldApp {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello World!"); // Prints the string to the console.


print("Hello World")

Remember, simple does not mean stupid. Most popular apps like Spotify, Uber or Reddit run on Python. Even one of the most popular open source 3D creation suite - Blender has an embedded Python interpreter.

  • Python has a great community - the language was created over 30 years ago. During that time the community of developers using the language has grown and matured. The developers community is highly active. Thanks to that you may find plenty of documentation, guides and tutorials available in a reach of hand.
  • Python supports many operating systems - Python is an interpreted language. You can run the same code on various platforms without any changes or alterations. You need to be sure that Python is already on a machine where you are running the code. So far it cannot get easier than that. Comparing to other languages such as C or Java you are not able to copy the compiled program between the systems and expect success.
  • Operating systems supported by Python:
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • macOS
    • FreeBSD
    • Solaris
    • NetBSD
    • OpenBSD
    • AIX
    • Cygwin
  • Python Developers are always in demand - you do not believe it? Check our career page.

three python developers sitting on stairs and talking about a python project

Integrated Development Environment (IDE) vs Code Editor

What is an IDE?

An integrated development environment (IDE) is a software suite that consolidates facilities to computer programmers for software development. Good Python IDEs usually include at least a source code editor, compiler, interpreter, assembly automation tools and a debugger.

Integrated development environments are created to increase programmer productivity by providing components with similar user interfaces. It is really helpful especially in cases where learning how to use an IDE is way faster than manual integration of all the required tools and learning them individually. IDEs present a single program in which all development is done.

What is a Code Editor?

Code editors are small pieces of software like a text editor. They are a fundamental programming tool. A code editor has more advanced functionalities than a text editor.

Top Python Code Editors

1. Visual Studio Code

visual studio code main screen in practice

Released in 2015 open-source Visual Studio Code (VSC) immediately has become one of the most popular code editors. VSC is a source code editor that can be used with a variety of programming languages like Python, C++ or JavaScript. According to a 2021 Stackoverflow’s survey, Visual Studio Code is the most popular developer tool with 71.06% of the 82,277 respondents using it.

✅ Pros

  • Offers multi-language support;
  • Modern and user friendly layout;
  • It supports the use of many plugins;
  • Created by Microsoft
  • Freeware
  • It supports the use of vertical orientation and multi-split window feature.

❌ Cons

  • Sometimes it can become unresponsive and a little laggy.

2. Sublime Text

sublime text main sceen in action

Sublime Text is a very popular commercial cross-platform text editor developed on C++ and Python and also has a Python API. It is commonly used to write Python code.

Some developers compare it to a swiss army knife. It is developed in such a manner that it supports many other programming and markup languages. It allows a user to add other functions with the help of plugins.

✅ Pros

  • It allows a user to choose specific preferences related to projects.
  • It shows high performance and has a powerful cross-platform User interface toolkit.

❌ Cons

  • As a vanilla it has limited features;
  • Their GIT plugin is not the greatest asset.

3. Vim Code Editor

vim code editor main screen in action

Vim is a popular open source text editor which is used to create and modify any type of text and is highly configurable. Previously Vim was known as a UNIX editor Vi, and VIM stands for “VI Improved”.

✅ Pros

  • Vim provides two different modes to the user to work i.e. Normal mode and editing mode.
  • It comes with its own scripting language which allows a user to modify behavior and custom functionality.
  • It also supports the non-programming applications which every other editor does not have.
  • Strings in VIM are nothing but command sequences so that the developer can save and again reuse them.

❌ Cons

  • It is only a text edit tool and doesn’t have a different color for the pop up shown.
  • High learning curve.

4. Atom

atom code editor main screen in action

Atom is a free source code editor developed by GitHub and is basically a desktop application which is built through a web technology having plugin support that is developed in Node.js.

It is based on atom shells which are a framework that helps to achieve cross-platform functionality. The best thing is that it can also be used as an Integrated Development Environment. Atom’s developers like to call it a "hackable text editor for the 21st Century". They mean that the editor is customizable.

✅ Pros

  • It is simple and really simple to use.
  • Atom allows UI customization to its user.
  • It has a lot of support from GitHub.
  • It has a strong feature for quickly opening the file to retrieve data and information.

❌ Cons

  • It is a browser-based app, it takes more time to sort the configurations and plugins.
  • Tabs are clumsy, reduces the performance and sometimes loads slowly.
  • Working on large projects may be irritating. Atom needs some time to load the files.

5. Notepad ++

notepad++ logo and main screen of the editor in action

Notepad++ is a text and source code editor and Notepad replacement for use with Microsoft Windows. It supports tabbed editing, which allows working with multiple open files in a single window. The project's name comes from the C increment operator.

✅ Pros

  • You can edit almost any programming language and create a huge variety of file times.
  • It can highlight code once you save it as a particular file type. This makes it easier to edit your code and scripts.
  • It is freeware

❌ Cons

  • Can become cluttered
  • UI looks a bit dated
  • Sometimes the number of options are overwhelming.

Top Python IDEs

1. PyCharm

pycharm ide main screen in action

PyCharm is one of the widely used Python IDE which was created by Jet Brains. It is one of the best IDE for Python. PyCharm is all a developer’s need for productive Python development.

With PyCharm, the developers can write a neat and maintainable code. It helps to be more productive and gives smart assistance to the developers. It takes care of the routine tasks by saving time and thereby increasing profit accordingly.

✅ Pros

  • It provides a smart platform to the developers who help them when it comes to auto code completion, error detection, quick fixing etc.
  • It provides multiple framework support by increasing a lot of cost-saving factors.
  • It supports a rich feature like cross-platform development so that the developers can write a script on different platforms as well.
  • PyCharm also comes with a good feature of the customizable interface which in turn increases the productivity.

❌ Cons

  • PyCharm may be an expensive tool for the entry level developers;
  • The initial installation is difficult and may hang up in between sometimes.

2. PyDev

pydev python ide main screen in action

PyDev is an outside plugin for Eclipse.

It is basically an IDE that is used for Python development. It is linear in size. It mainly focuses on the refactoring of python code, debugging in the graphical pattern, analysis of code etc. It is a strong python interpreter.

As it’s a plugin for eclipse it becomes more flexible for the developers to use the IDE for development of an application with so many features. In open source IDE, it is one of the preferred IDE by the developers.

✅ Pros

  • PyDev provides a strong syntax highlighting, parser errors, code folding, and multi-language support.
  • It has a good outline view, it marks occurrences as well and has an interactive console.
  • It has good support for CPython, Jython, Iron Python, and Django and allows interactive probing in suspended mode.
  • It provides tabs preferences, smart indent, Pylint integration, TODO tasks, auto-completion of keywords and content assistants.
  • Open-sourced under Eclipse Public Licence

❌ Cons

  • Sometimes the plugins in PyDev become unstable by creating issues in the development of the application.
  • Performance of PyDev IDE decreases if the application is too big with multiple plugins.

3. Visual Studio

microsoft visual studio ide in action

Do not confuse it with Visual Studio Code we described earlier. Microsoft Visual Studio is an IDE made by Microsoft and used for different types of software development such as computer programs, websites, web apps, web services, and mobile apps. It contains completion tools, compilers, and other features to facilitate the software development process.

The first version of Visual Studio was released over 20 years ago, known as Visual Studio 97.

✅ Pros

  • Set of rich libraries for different languages.it is not stuck only with c# using this you can write code in other languages also.
  • One-stop development shop. Centralized location for all development-related tools and workflow.
  • Continue work offline, disconnected from the network if needed.
  • More robust build administration than what is offered on the web

❌ Cons

  • Certain settings and features can sometimes be challenging to locate. The interface isn't always intuitive.
  • Sometimes there are too many ways to do the same thing.
  • In comparison to PyCharm it is a one big beast where pycharm is a tool dedicated to Python.

visual studio ide meme

Sunscrapers Python Tips

Which IDE is best for Python beginners?

We recommend two IDEs which are open source and totally free:

  • PyCharm Community Edition - contains major functionalities and tools known from Pycharm Professional Edition;
  • IDLE - not mentioned in our rank, but it is definitely worth checking, especially that it comes by default with Python, so there is no requirement of installation and additional setup.

What is the most common Python IDE?

Following KDnuggets article, the 3 most popular Python IDEs in 2020 were:

  • Jupyter
  • Visual Studio Code
  • Pycharm

How to debug Python code in Atom?

The best debugger we have found so far is Python Debugger available on Atom’s website. From our experience we can tell the debugger does not allow you to watch variables or expressions.

  1. You need to install a debugger package with the following command
$ apm install python-debugger language-python
  1. Open the file in Python format you want to debug and insert breakpoints
  2. Use combination of ALT+R to enter the debugger mode
  3. Insert input arguments in the input arguments field if applicable
  4. Press the “Run” button. Focus will start moving to the first breakpoint.
  5. Use the buttons provided to navigate through your source. You can enter debugger commands directly in the command field.

The entire installation and debugging process is available on the debugger’s page.

TLDR: Best Python IDEs and Code Editors

We hope that this article helped you to understand and get an overview which IDEs and Code Editors are the best to program in Python. Once you choose the right IDE or code editor for your project we recommend you to check our other resources about Python and software development:

IDE in two sentences

An IDE is a great piece of software which may be used as a text editor, debugger and compiler all in one. The main purpose of IDEs is to make coding easier.

Code Editor in two sentences

Code editors are small pieces of software like a text editor. They are a fundamental programming tool.

Best Python IDEs

  • Pycharm
  • Pydev
  • Visual Studio

Best Python Code Editors

  • Visual Studio Code
  • Sublime Text
  • Vim Code Editor
  • Atom
  • Notepad++

If you are looking for skilled python programmers and engineers who may join your team or project contact us and we will be more than happy to help you.

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