IDEs & Debugging

In this course we will be going through how integrated development environments (IDEs) can help you with your programming by automating some tasks and helping you spot errors more easily.

The course is written to work for JetBrains' PyCharm and also Microsoft's Visual Studio Code. You should feel free to choose whichever IDE works best for you. Throughout these notes, differences between the IDEs will be noted using blocks like the following:

Sections which refer to PyCharm will be labelled with it's logo like this.

And sections which refer to VS Code will look like this.

Once you have chosen the IDE you'd like to use, you can ignore the sections which refer to the other IDE. You can also collapse a section by clicking on the logo for the IDE you want to hide.

You can jump ahead to any chapter:

Install Python

For simplicity we recommend installing Python via Anaconda.com. Go to the download page and download and install the Python 3 version. The defaults for the installer should all work fine.

If you are on Linux then your system Python will work fine, as long as it is at least Python 3.6.

Download and install

Both the IDEs that we will be using in this course are free and open source. You can have them both installed at the same time if you'd like so that you can experiment and try out their different features.

You can download PyCharm by going to their website and clicking the download button. This will take you to the download page where you will be given a choice between the Professional and Community editions. The Community edition is completely free and open source and is what we recommend for now.

The Professional edition provides some extra features but is a paid-for product. As a student or member of academic staff you can get the Professional edition for free through their student programme so feel free to look into that at a later time.

Download and install the Community edition to your computer. If you are in Windows and are prompted for a username and password for admin access, just press cancel and it will carry on installing anyway.

If you are using Anaconda on Windows, you do not need to install it separately, it will be available through Anaconda Naviagator.

Otherwise, you can download VS Code by going to their website and downloading from there or by going directly to their download page.