Table of contents
- What is Python
- How is Python different from other programming languages?
- IDEs and code editors
- Top 20 free Python code editors in 2022
- 1. Programiz online compiler
- 2. IDLE
- 3. Sublime Text 3
- 4. Atom
- 5. Thonny
- 6. PyCharm
- 7. Visual Studio Code
- 8. PyDev
- 9. Rodeo
- 10. PyScripter
- 11. Vim
- 12. Pyzo
- 13. GNU Emacs
- 14. Jupyter Python IDE
- 15. Notepad++
- 16. Replit Online
- 17. Python Online
- 18. W3Schools Python
- 19. Python.org Shell
- 20. PythonAnywhere
- Things to consider when choosing a Python IDE
- Conclusion - Best Python Free IDE
Python is one of the most commonly used programming languages in the world.
To be more precise, 28% of the programming languages tutorials googled in 2022 are about Python.
Given the increased demand for this coding language, any programmer must know which code editor they should use.
To help you get a better understanding of which tool you should take advantage of in your programming journey, we have created a list explaining 20 of the most popular free Python code editors available on the internet.
Moreover, Python development requires both coding language and great tools.
Therefore, our mission was to objectively analyze all the software applications on the market that offer such features.
When it comes to comparing code editors tools, it is crucial to have clear expectations and pre-defined criteria.
Our experts at Hashnode have tried all these tools for at least 14 continuous days and came up with opinions on the same usability of each one.
Our comparison criteria include:
- Ease of use
- Python usability
- Multi-language compatibility
- Formatting functions
What is Python
The Python programming language is one of the most popular options today. In this language, the focus is on code readability. Thus, potential errors can be identified and remedied quickly.
Unlike other programming languages, the main advantages of Python are the extensive support available to the developer community and easy integration with various web services. It is also one of the few open-source programming languages (supported by a community).
Suitable for beginners in programming, Python allows beginners to become productive in a relatively short amount of time.
When you start Python programming, the skills you need include problem-solving and abstract thinking. The main benefits of this programming language are a high degree of flexibility and being significantly more readable than other languages.
Currently, the Python programming language is constantly growing in popularity among professional programmers.
This is supported by the fact that applications made in Python have increased utility both in technology education (eLearning) and in the field of intelligent business management (business management).
There are a lot of very popular applications and programs that have been made with the help of Python. The best known of these are:
- YouTube video streaming platform
- Google Search
- Dropbox cloud storage system
How is Python different from other programming languages?
Some programming languages have advantages in terms of ease of use, while others require the use of more complex phrases. However, the popularity of a programming language is not given by how easy it is to use. When talking about how popular a programming language is, we need to consider many factors that affect (positively or negatively) the user experience. The main differences between programming languages are:
- Syntax type (close to natural language/based mostly on symbols)
- The purpose of the language (general/specific to the field of activity)
- Type of execution (interpreted/compiled)
- Level of control over hardware resources (high control, at the granular level, but high verbosity vs. low control and low verbosity)
IDEs and code editors
An Integrated development environment (commonly referred to as IDE) is a software application that offers programmers the opportunity to write code lines and enjoy additional help.
These tools come in handy, especially for beginners but can be successfully used by professional developers that crave automatic code formatting and a graphical user interface.
There are plenty of open-source software tools that support Python variables. There are also a lot of paid ones that offer more premium features.
Yet, if you only want basic built-in support, you can surely do the job with some free Python editors available worldwide.
When it comes to choosing an IDE or a code editor to take advantage of, it is crucial to aim for several basic functions that will help you:
- Automatic saving function: this feature will help you avoid situations where you forget to save your last lines of code or, even worse, if you encounter a power outage that resets your workstation.
- Integrated code running: unless you want to run your code (using a separate debugger) externally, you should aim for a tool that has an interactive interpreter, offering you the ability to run the code and see whether it works as expected or not.
- Syntax highlighting: finding some of the keywords you have used in your code lines is much simpler when having such a feature.
- Automatic code formatting: any IDE that is worth using comes with an integrating graphical interface that will help you better understand your code lines (and eventual bugs).
Top 20 free Python code editors in 2022
Before choosing one of the available free Python code editors, you should learn more about them. Fortunately, we are ready to tell you everything about each of the most popular tools so you can make an informed choice.
The online Python code editor offered by Programiz brings you access to a web-based open-source code editor that comes with plenty of additional functions.
The good news is that you do not have to install any additional software to make it work. Therefore, all you need to do is get a stable Internet connection and a working laptop. From this point, you gain access to an integrated development environment that helps you write code effortlessly.
This tool is entirely free and can be used by anyone with no limitations. You can also save code drafts and work on them later. The integrated syntax highlighting function helps you ensure everything is connected and works as expected.
When installing Python on your computer, you also automatically install IDLE. This acronym stands for Integrated Development and Learning Environment. The best thing about this IDE is that it offers a lightweight experience with not too many functions.
On the other hand, using this tool for larger projects with plenty of features may not offer you the best experience.
The good news is that this basic IDE comes with no strings attached and is free. You can also use this tool offline, compared to other online Python code editors.
Even though it may not be the best IDE you can use, the standard functions may be helpful for beginners. The toolkit includes:
- Smart code navigation
- Integrated SMART system (smart indentation and automatic code completion suggestion)
- Virtual debugger
Sublime Text 3 supports some of the most powerful lisp programming languages worldwide. Although it comes with integrated Python compatibility, you can always install additional plugins to use it for other programming languages.
It includes a Version Control System feature that lets you choose from a vast plugins database. These additional tools will help you enjoy features, such as:
- Automatic code completion
- Syntax highlighting
- Code linting
- Django integration
- Flask integration
It is basically free to use, but you will constantly get a pop-up notification informing you that it is mandatory to buy a premium subscription for professional use.
Atom is a text editor originally created for this powerful lisp programming language. Github developed it as an open-source code editor.
You can check our in-depth article on Atom vs Visual Studio Code here.
This dedicated tool comes with integrated data science libraries that will help both beginners and professionals achieve significant efficiency when writing code. What is more, various customization scripts will allow you to get the most out of this dedicated code editor.
Using the integrated file system browser, you can easily install additional packages (commonly referred to as plugins) that will allow you to enjoy even more functions when writing a Python script.
This dedicated code editor was specifically created to serve Python-based programmers. It comes with interesting functions such as Python debugging and interactive Python console.
What is more, plenty of customization scripts exist in the online database. Although it comes with some of the most basic functions, it can also support programmers aiming to create more extensive and complex projects.
Some of the most popular functions offered by Thonny include error highlighting and machine learning-based code completion.
PyCharm is an IDE to help professional developers.
It was created by JetBrains, a company known for making excellent software development tools.
PyCharm provides all the major features that are included in a good IDE (code completion, code inspections, error-highlighting, fixes, etc.), but without resource-intensive overhead on weaker machines like most other IDEs do—if you have less than 4 GB of RAM on your computer—it lags with this program open then something else might be hogging up resources.
VS Code is an open-source, extensible code editor that works well with Windows, Linux, and OS computer operating systems.
It is not to be confused with Visual Studio—in fact, VS Code has a tiny but complete software suite.
The first version of the VS Code was released on April 29th, 2015; it became available for free download under the MIT license.
These two programs have almost identical functions.
They are built on Electron, which means that both can offer nearly infinite customization options to their users.
VS Code improves compared to other Python IDE code editors by offering more extensions and plugins thanks to Microsoft's high number of contributors who contribute daily toward expanding this project’s functionality.
PyDev IDE is an outside plugin for Eclipse.
It's a linear program that primarily focuses on refactoring, debugging, and code analysis.
As it's open-source software, this makes it much more flexible than other IDEs in use today and is suitable to be used by developers of many programming languages, including Python.
The PyDev supports rich features like type hinting and auto code completion plus integration with Django. It allows the developer to write those applications quickly while ensuring they have all the necessary tools, such as logging - debuggers, etc., provided via plugins so that their development time is saved and provides them with a high level of comfort throughout their workflow.
Rodeo is a Python IDE designed for data science.
It supports cross-platform functionality and provides everything necessary to do data science or machine learning tasks like loading data and experimenting.
It allows the developers to interact, compare their work, inspect their code and plot it out on the screen with great ease through convenient features such as auto-completion of code via syntax highlighting.
Rodeo includes all support documentation online, a text editor, and a Python console that can be used without interruptions from any other application running at once.
Moreover, this lightweight development environment also has text editors for editing source files that are open concurrently in different windows on your system simultaneously alongside an IPython session where you can write your script's code faster than ever before!
PyScripter provides a lightweight IDE for Python, which has all the features needed in today’s programming language.
It’s also natively compiled for Windows and available on Mac OS X, Linux, and FreeBSD operating systems to combine minimal memory consumption with maximum performance.
The editor is open-source and developed in Delphi with extensibility via Python scripts that can run locally or remotely.
PyScripter provides full debugging supports remote debugger, and unit testing tools integration like PyLint, TabNanny, and Profile are also present! Additionally, it offers support of encoded python code, giving you a fully comprehensive experience when working within this language other than just doing coding work.
Vim is an open-source text editor with a command-line interface and can also be used as standalone software.
Vim's quality of performance is increasing with every release, making it highly configurable.
Vim supports many programming languages, files, search/replace functionality, etc. It integrates well with other applications inside its scripting language, allowing you to modify behavior or customize features within your project.
In addition to this feature set, VIM provides two modes for the user: Normal Mode and Editing Mode.
Strings are nothing but commands in VIM so that developers can save them for later use in their projects without writing them from scratch each time they need it again (this way you don't have to type out "Hello World" over 400 times).
Pyzo is a Qt-based editor with a built-in file browser, project overview, log, debugger, etc. It considers itself an alternative to MATLAB but actually, it's useful for any Python project.
Pyzo stays out of your way unless you need help keeping track of your code.
Its ability to be highly configurable and show or hide tool panels based on what information you want in front of you can give the user focus during specific times by focusing on one thing at a time instead of having many things open.
13. GNU Emacs
GNU Emacs is an extensible, customizable, self-documenting real-time display editor. The GNU project founder Richard Stallman developed it.
The editing modes available in GNU Emacs' interface include syntax coloring for many file types and content-aware editing modes like text operations and documentation (built into the software).
The software also has built-in Unicode support, making it easier to edit files with different scripts or languages.
One such package is called _elpy, _which can rapidly transform your editor into the equivalent of an IDE - much like Vim did before its release! Like vim though, there are a few caveats: you'll need to use a mouse if you're going full screen on Windows or MacOSX; furthermore, one that doesn't have a trackball/wheel selection mechanism anywhere, but these points don't detract from what's possible when using this tool as well as its wide range of functionalities beyond just text editing available through packages/plugins.
Jupyter is arguably the best Python IDE among all the code editors to create and implement ML-based and data science code. Besides being a source editor, it also provides rich text elements like links, equations, etc.
It supports multi programming languages, so you can easily use this to write in any language and perform numerical calculations using Jupyter Notebooks.
It allows you to run your notebooks right within your browser without having to download them; additionally, it includes built-in breakpoints that will enable easy navigation around your notebook while editing!
It is effortless and fun to use—just point-and-click into other parts of the app or compile up from there. You cannot integrate third-party applications, but no problem if they are already coded by someone else.
This has a lot less security than something like Sublime Text, which does have IDE integration support but still offers multiple levels of security when needed, such as adding passwords or managing permissions for different users who will be able to come through those things out (keywords=multitasking).
Notepad++is a free, open-source editor for MS Windows with syntax highlighting that recognizes several different programming languages from Assembly to XML and many others in-between.
Besides this, it provides some features that are particularly useful to coders, including shortcuts for program calls such as a Run Python menu item that will invoke python.exe without switching over to running another window like IPython.
Another very convenient feature of Notepad++ is the ability to group code sections so you can hide blocks on the page or make it more readable by collapsing them all at once.
This can be helpful when writing large amounts of code where having one large block would not work well with readability because indentation levels don't exist in most coding languages other than Python (except in specific cases). Therefore, it would need explicit braces around each functional section instead since they rely on indentation rather than braces like their surroundings do.
16. Replit Online
Replit is an online productive Python development platform that allows its users to enjoy the ability to debug code without having to worry about downloading additional software.
The good news is that this tool comes with plenty of additional functions, including smart code completion, integrated debugger, and code refactoring enhancements.
Although this tool experienced some particular issues during the pre-launch and initial phase, plenty of updates have resolved most of the bugs lately.
Now you can work on it flawlessly and enjoy cloud-based Python debugging from literally anywhere globally.
17. Python Online
Python Online is a tool you want in your tech stack if you are always on the go and switching devices.
It is similar to Visual Studio and includes the smart indent function. What is more, the multi-split window feature will help you multitask effortlessly.
Additionally, the intelligent code completion feature helps you eliminate complex plugins that are not that accurate (PyDev plugin for auto-completion, for example).
Being a dedicated platform, Python Online works great for basic tasks. However, you might find it a bit sturdy if you want to work with complex functions.
18. W3Schools Python
The Python compiler offered by W3Schools is great, especially for beginners and those who do not have a powerful workstation.
This tool works wonderfully if you want to write code lines and debug them remotely.
Just like any other web-based Python IDE code editor, W3Schools lets you work entirely online without having to download any additional packages to your device.
At the beginning of 2022, W3Schools have deployed major updates, making the entire coding process smoother and better.
19. Python.org Shell
Python Shell is probably the most popular Python development environment tool used for web development.
The Python.org Shell lets you compile and debug code lines without worrying about RAM gigabytes and CPU frequency.
It is completely free to use, so you do not have to add another cost to your monthly expenses. Furthermore, it is constantly updated, the open-source community removing bugs and improving the overall experience.
If you enjoy working on Python.org Shell and you have some deep knowledge in matters of coding, you might want to join the club and become a volunteer developer.
PythonAnywhere is a cloud-based code editor for the Python language.
This is one of the most popular Python IDEs you can get your hands on using the Google app engine.
Like any web-based tool, it offers many functions that can be successfully used to create exciting projects with minimal resource demands.
It is handy for those beginners who do not have high-end workstations but do not want to work with only a local text editor.
As the name suggests, this tool lets you deploy Python codes literally anywhere.
It is a great thing, especially for programmers working on the go and carrying their laptops around all day.
Things to consider when choosing a Python IDE
When choosing a code editor, there are some key things to keep in mind. First, do your research. There are a lot of different code editors on the market, so find the one that's right for you. Second, don't just go by price.
Many great options are affordable, and you don't have to break the bank to get a good code editor. Third, ask around. See what other developers are using and what they like or don't like about their code editor. Finally, try out a few different code editors and see which one feels most comfortable for you.
A code editor is an essential piece of software for Python developers. It allows you to write, edit, and run Python code, making it a valuable tool for any programmer. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a code editor.
Make sure the editor has the features you need and is compatible with the Python version you're using. Be sure to choose an editor that is comfortable and easy to use for you. You can find the perfect code editor for your Python development needs with these tips in mind.
Conclusion - Best Python Free IDE
To put everything in a nutshell, the best Python free IDE depends on your requirements.
There are plenty of different tools available on the market.
Some are online, some are offline, but all of them share one thing: having great functions.
Yet, from our perspective, the best Python free IDE and code editor is Sublime Text 3. It offers plenty of interesting functions and a graphical interface that helps you easily spot errors and syntax mistakes.
If you are a coding enthusiast that has tried out a particular tool itself, Hashnode is the perfect place to share your experience.
If you want to read more about code editors you can find more articles in our code editors series on the Toolbox blog.