InfoWorld review: Nine fine Python development tools

A wide-ranging flock of Python IDEs offer great options for Windows scripting, GUI applications, Web frameworks, multilanguage development, and more

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Nine fine Python development tools at a glance

  Hosts Python support Pros Cons Cost
Boa Constructor 0.2.3 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.1 through 2.6
  • Complete wxPython development tool 
  • Provides a variety of explorers -- even Zope databases 
  • Debugger can debug remote applications
  • IDE poses significant learning curve
  • Documentation could use improvement
Free
Eric 4.4.6 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.x (Eric4), Python 3.x (Eric5)
  • Good GUI-construction support
  • Excellent plug-in management system
  • Free
  • Documentation is severely limited
  • Install prerequisites can be daunting
Free
Komodo 5.2.4 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.x; Python 3.x support added in Komodo 6.0 beta
  • IDE supports multiple language development
  • IDE is extensible
  • Debugger is well-developed, with both multithreaded and remote capabilities
  • Not free
  • Some auto-completion capabilities are still under development
  • No built-in GUI development
$295 for a single-user license; Komodo Edit is free, but it is really just an editor
NetBeans 6.8 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.x, Jython
  • Support for multiple languages and tools
  • Good template and macro support
  • Free
  • Documentation is limited
  • Remote debugging is not supported
  • Python 3.x support is uncertain
Free
Pydev 1.5.9 Eclipse Python 2.x, 3.x, CPython, Jython, IronPython
  • Provides access to other Eclipse tools
  • If you're already familiar with Eclipse, then you know how to use Pydev
  • Has project assists for Django and Google App Engine
  • Documentation needs significant work
  • If you're new to Eclipse, you'll have to learn the Eclipse way of doing things
  • Has no integrated GUI development
Free
PyScripter 1.9.9.7 Windows Python 2.x and 3.1
  • More responsive than the Python-based IDEs 
  • Requires no additional downloads
  • Good templating capabilities
  • Windows only
  • Debugger is single-threaded
  • Has no GUI development (though one is in the works)
Free
SPE 0.8.4 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.6 and later 2.x
  • Free (though documentation is not)
  • Useful tools well-integrated with the IDE
  • Can be used as a scripting tool for Blender
  • Has no concept of "project" -- good for single Python files
  • Doesn't provide its own debugger
Free; documentation requires a €5 (about $6) donation
Spyder 1.0.3 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.x
  • Includes menu selections for Qt tools
  • Extensive data exploration tools for numerical array objects
  • Free
  • Debugging support is minimal (uses pdb)
  • Actual documentation for Spyder is limited
  • IDE can become frozen if code run in interactive console blocks
Free
Wing IDE 3.2.9-1 Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Python 2.x, 3.x
  • Source Assistant is top-notch code assist feature
  • Documentation has plenty of how-to sections
  • Debugger is multithreaded and remotable
  • Free edition is not much more than an editor
  • Hard to justify cost in a world of free IDEs
  • No GUI-building capability
$179 for Professional edition; Personal ($35) and free versions available

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