Python Development Environments

The Python interpreter’s built-in interactive mode is the simplest development environment for Python. It is a bit primitive, but it is lightweight, has a small footprint, and starts fast. Together with an appropriate text editor (as discussed later in this chapter) and line-editing and history facilities, it is a usable and popular development environment. However, there are a number of other development environments that you can also use.


Python’s Integrated DeveLopment Environment (IDLE) comes with the standard Python distribution. IDLE is a cross-platform, 100% pure Python application based on Tkinter (see Chapter 16). IDLE offers a Python shell, similar to interactive Python interpreter sessions but richer in functionality. It also includes a text editor optimized to edit Python source code, an integrated interactive debugger, and several specialized browsers/viewers.

Other Free Cross-Platform Python IDEs

IDLE is mature, stable, easy to use, and rich in functionality. Promising new Python IDEs that share IDLE’s free and cross-platform nature are emerging. Red Hat’s Source Navigator ( supports many languages. It runs on Linux, Solaris, HPUX, and Windows. Boa Constructor ( is Python-only and still beta-level, but well worth trying out. Boa Constructor includes a GUI builder for the wxWindows cross-platform GUI toolkit.

Platform-Specific Free Python IDEs

Python is ...

Get Python in a Nutshell now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.