Recommended Text Editors (2017)

Here are my 2017 text editor recommendations1, ranked in from highest to lowest.

PyCharm

website: https://www.jetbrains.com/pycharm

I have used most of the text editors out there in one form or another. They all have their merits but PyCharm has been the best one to use for those just getting started with Python. It is crammed full of features that make it easy to write and run Python scripts. “What is the cost?” you ask? Well, there are several versions of PyCharm. The community version will do most of what you need when just getting started. This version is free to download and use.

I highly recommend moving to the Professional version if you end up sticking with PyCharm. The extra functionality that you get is worth it.

PyCharm Pros

  • It handles Virtual Environments for you. Read Setting Up a Virtual Environment for more about virtual environments
  • Your Python scripts run right inside PyCharm itself. You don’t have to visit a separate terminal window to run your scripts. This is huge for a beginning script writer.
  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Lots and lots of plugins

Pycharm Cons

  • The biggest downside to PyCharm is it’s size. It not really that big of a program when compared to other behemoths like Microsoft Word or something like that but it larger than others on this list.

Visit their website to get the full list of PyCharm features.

Atom.io

Website: https://atom.io/

Atom Pros

  • Syntax Highlighting
  • Fast
  • Also has lots of plugins

Atom Cons

  • You have to run your scripts in a separate terminal program2. It’s not a huge problem once you get accustomed to it but it can be annoying.
  • You have to manage your virtual environment yourself.
  • You need to have better skills with the command line.
  • Feels more techy, needs more tweaking. Techy users might like this

NotePad++

website: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/

Many Windows users swear by NotePad++. It has been around for years and has a large fan base. Personally, I’ve never grown attached to it with other, better, options available.

NotePad++ Pros

  • It’s been around for a while so it is stable
  • Syntax Highlighting is ok

NotePad++ Cons

  • Windows Only
  • Older, not as “cool”

  1. See my confessional about editors 

  2. I’ve been told there may be plugins that make it possible to run python scripts inside of Atom just like PyCharm. I haven’t tried this myself. Your mileage may vary.