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Nine fine Python development tools

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Python has certainly distinguished itself as a go-anywhere, do-anything language. As a language for desktop application development, it can be found behind the Resolver One spreadsheet. As an embedded script language, it's inside the highly respected Blender graphics package and the Rhythmbox media player. It is the binding glue of the Sage open source math package and the Portage package management system of Gentoo Linux. On the web, it powers the highly popular Zope, TurboGears and Django frameworks. The list goes on, as any quick Google search will show.


This flock of alternatives makes clear that there is no single best Python IDE. The range of problems that these IDEs attempt to solve is too wide to permit a solitary, superior candidate. If you need an IDE that allows development in multiple languages, then Komodo is probably your best bet, though Pydev is a close second and will likely be as good once its documentation holes are filled. If you need an IDE for GUI development, then Eric and Boa Constructor are equally good.

Be prepared, however, to work out development details on your own, both Eric and Boa Constructor beg for additional documentation. For building single-module Python scripts, PyScripter is excellent, though limited to Windows. Linux and Mac users should check out SPE. And finally, if you need an analytics environment for working with the NumPy and SciPy math libraries, Spyder is the place to go.

Happily, many of these products are free open source, and those that are not offer multiweek trial periods. Your best bet is to choose one that appears the closest fit to your particular requirements, and then turn yourself loose on it.


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