Eric Florenzano’s Blog

"To IDE or not to IDE?", that is the question

Nov 14, 2008

A few years ago, when I first started using Python, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for "a good Python IDE." The classic IDE links page on the Python wiki was around back then, and looked fairly similar to the way it looks now. I was used to Java and Eclipse. Java, if you haven't used it, is difficult at best to use without an IDE.

Understandably, then, I wanted to see what was available (and free). At the time, the two reigning free ones were Eric3, and SPE, and PyDev was quickly gaining popularity. I found Eric3 to be extremely buggy, crashing every few minutes. Everyone seemed to love it, but I couldn't get it to work stably for me, which was a deal breaker.

PyDev seemed too heavyweight. After all, I was trying to switch away from Java! Plus, the fact that it stored metadata in these strange .project files bugged me to no end. SPE was one that I actually used for a while. It was stable, seemed to be featureful, and had a good community around it. But I found that the interface ended up getting in the way more than helping, and eventually I abandoned that as well.

I tried trial versions of Wing and Komodo, and of course they were the best, but they sure didn't seem like they were worth what their respective companies were asking for them. Anyway, at this point several months had gone by, and I had gotten pretty comfortable with Python. The search for an IDE ended up making me proficient enough that I found I didn't need an IDE at all!

Today, I code in TextMate. But I have no strong preference over any other text editor (in fact, I think my preferred text editor is Kate), but the simplicity that it brings is pretty much unbeatable.

All of this brings me to my question for anyone who's willing to answer: should I take a second look at any of these IDEs? A few years after I did this research and I'm willing to entertain the idea that it's possible an IDE could make development easier. Is there a new kid on the block that is sweeping people off their feet?

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