[Idle-dev] IDLE going forward

Douglas S. Blank dblank at brynmawr.edu
Wed Feb 2 23:45:42 CET 2011

On 02/02/2011 04:58 PM, Robert wrote:
> It was suggested in another Python newsgroup that IDLE has flaws. Yes, I
> know, hard to believe that software has flaws, however, out of that was
> born a desire to clean up the code cruft etc. in IDLE.

As a long time IDLE user, I don't think that the issue is that IDLE has 
flaws. What is missing is a group of people that use it everyday who 
have a vision about making it better than it currently is.

> Two things that came out generally were:
> * Update the UI (use ttk widgets etc.)
> * More tests and automate testing
> * Clean up the code
> What else would you like to see? I was said that Python (and IDLE) are
> going to Mercurial at some point, so maybe that would be a good time to
> start the effort.
> It will be a bit for me. I have some learning to do before I try and
> tackle this. I think it would be a good way for me to continue to learn
> about Python, unit testing, UI design and code refactoring.
> So chime in with your suggestions!

I've stopped using IDLE, so I don't know if some of these issues have 
been addressed in the latest versions, but here are some things that 
were issues:

* needs a stable interface for plugins (it seemed like each version 
changed slightly and our extensions kept breaking)

* more hooks for plugins

* needed a way to run the code in editor window without restarting the 
shell (some code has start-up code that should not have to be re-run 
each time you want to load the program)

* control+p and alt+p (print and previous) were too similar and I kept 
printing the entire history

* allow one to select a printer before printing

* ability to clear the shell window

* allow IDLE to startup with either shell or editor

* Don't show the weird, scary message about Personal Firewall 
subprocessing and loopbacks. That is not a good way to introduce people 
to computing!

* Allow more than one idle to be run at same time

* command-line history persistent between sessions

* some weird cursor positions in shell. home should take you to a place 
after prompt, not before.

* cutting and pasting from shell to window could remove the >>> prompts

* menu items not intuitive for beginners

* more options with a context-sensitive right-mouse-click

IDLE is very nice, but it could be developed into a finally-tuned product.

Good luck!


> Thought: Should this just be an effort for IDLE in P3 going forward so
> that focus can be had?

Douglas S. Blank
Associate Professor, Computer Science, Bryn Mawr College
http://cs.brynmawr.edu/~dblank  (610)526-6501

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