VSC vs. PyCharm: Optimizing Your Python Dev Environment

Patryk Młynarek - Backend Engineer

Patryk Młynarek

23 November 2023, 6 min read

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What's inside

  1. Visual Studio Code (VSC)
  2. JetBrains' PyCharm
  3. Comparing VSC and PyCharm
  4. Conclusion

Regarding Python development, having the right tools can make all the difference. A robust development environment streamlines the coding process and aids in debugging, testing, and optimization.

Today, we're zooming in on two titans in this realm: Visual Studio Code (VSC) and JetBrains' PyCharm.

Visual Studio Code (VSC)




Born from Microsoft's commitment to open-source and versatility, VSC has rapidly become a favorite among developers.

Its lightweight nature and extensive marketplace for extensions make it adaptable to almost any development need.

Installation Guide

  1. Navigate to the Visual Studio Code website.
  2. Download the appropriate version for your OS.
  3. Follow the installation prompts and launch VSC.

Essential Extensions for Python Development

  • Python (official Microsoft extension): A must-have. Offers IntelliSense, linting, debugging, and more, making your coding experience efficient and error-free.
  • MagicPython: For those who crave a richer syntax highlighting experience.
  • IntelliCode (official Microsoft extension): Takes code suggestions to the next level with AI.
  • Pylance (official Microsoft extension): A language server extension that offers advanced type checking, autocompletion, and rich features for large codebases.
  • Pylint (official Microsoft extension): Pylint is a widely used Python static code analysis tool. This extension integrates Pylint into Visual Studio Code, helping you identify and fix code quality issues.
  • Black Formatter (official Microsoft extension): Black is a strict code formatter for Python. This extension ensures your Python code adheres to the Black code style, promoting consistency and readability.
  • Flake8 (official Microsoft extension): Flake8 is another popular code quality checker. This extension integrates Flake8 into Visual Studio Code, helping you catch and correct code style and quality violations.
  • isort (official Microsoft extension): Managing imports in Python can be a hassle, but isort simplifies this task. It automatically organizes and optimizes your Python imports, making your codebase cleaner and more maintainable.
  • Flatland Monokai Theme (or your favorite): While not a Python-specific extension, a well-chosen theme can significantly impact your coding experience. The Flatland Monokai Theme, or any other preferred theme, can make your code visually appealing and easier to work with.
  • String Manipulation: This extension provides various string manipulation functions, making handling and transforming strings in your Python code easier.

Configuration Tips

Use the Command Palette (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+P) to search for and execute commands.

Setting up Virtual Environments: Run "Python: Select Interpreter" to choose a virtual Python environment.

Customizing Workspace Settings:

  • Run "Preferences: Open Settings (UI)" to access VSC settings through a user-friendly interface.
  • Run "Preferences: Open User Settings (JSON)" to edit settings via a JSON file.

Custom commands: Each installed extension offers unique utilities that can be found and used through the Command Palette.

JetBrains' PyCharm



A heavyweight in the Python IDE world, PyCharm is JetBrains' gift to the community. Available in both Professional and Community editions, it’s known for its all-in-one approach.

Installation Guide

  1. Visit the PyCharm website.
  2. Select your preferred edition and download it.
  3. Run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions.

In-built Tools Worth Exploring

  • Debugger: PyCharm's built-in debugger is a powerful tool for Python developers. It offers a visual debugger that allows you to set breakpoints, step through code, inspect variables, and analyze the flow of your Python program. It provides an intuitive interface for debugging your code, making identifying and fixing issues in your Python applications easier.
  • Formatting and Linting: PyCharm includes support for automatic code formatting and linting. It integrates with popular Python code formatters like Black and PEP8, ensuring your code meets the recommended style guidelines. This feature helps maintain code consistency and readability within your projects.
  • Using Python Interpreter in Docker: PyCharm allows you to work with Python interpreters running in Docker containers. This is particularly useful for isolating development environments and managing project dependencies. You can configure PyCharm to use a Python interpreter in a Docker container, making it easier to maintain consistent and reproducible development setups.
  • Database Tools: PyCharm offers tools for working with relational databases. You can connect to various database management systems, perform SQL queries, view and edit data, and visualize your database schema. This functionality is especially valuable when working on projects that involve database interactions.
  • Frameworks Support: PyCharm supports various Python frameworks and libraries, including Django, Flask, FastAPI, and more. When you create a new project or open an existing one, PyCharm can recognize the framework being used and offer specific code completion, project templates, and integration with the framework's features.
  • Code Completion: PyCharm offers intelligent code completion that understands your code context and suggests completions as you type. It includes autocompletion for Python modules, functions, variables, and more. This feature can significantly boost your productivity by reducing the need to manually type out long code constructs.

PyCharm's greatest strength lies in its out-of-the-box functionality and ready-to-use. Developers can start Python projects immediately, as it comes packed with intuitive and robust built-in tools, eliminating the need for extensive setup or extensions. It's a hassle-free and highly productive Python development environment.

Comparing VSC and PyCharm

Visual Studio Code (VSC)JetBrains' PyCharm
Performance & Resource
Lightweight and snappyMore resource-intensive but compensates with integrated features
Flexibility &
Extensive marketplace offering high customizationMany built-in tools require less setup
Integration with
Other Tools
Broad support for various tools might require manual configurationBroad support with an integrated approach, often requiring less manual configuration
Community & SupportVibrant community and extensive online resourcesA vibrant community with the added benefit of dedicated JetBrains support for the Profes


Both VSC and PyCharm come with their unique strengths. VSC is your go-to if you lean towards a lightweight editor with immense customization potential. However, if an integrated, feature-rich IDE that streamlines the Python development process appeals to you, PyCharm is worth the investment.

Regardless of your choice, diving deep and tailoring the environment to your workflow is key. Happy coding!

If you're still weighing your options or could use expert advice on making the most of these powerful tools, don't hesitate to contact us. Let's elevate your Python development together!

Patryk Młynarek - Backend Engineer

Patryk Młynarek

Backend Engineer

Patryk is a experienced Senior Python Developer who puts business value on the first place. Web applications enthusiast from initial development to server maintenance, ensuring the entire process runs smoothly. In his free time, Patryk enjoys playing board games and motorcycling.


VSC (Visual Studio Code)


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