Ranting about the state of Python IDEs for Windows

Carlos Ribeiro carribeiro at gmail.com
Mon Sep 13 22:10:16 CEST 2004

Oh well. A mailing list is not the most appropriate place for rants (a
blog is better), but it's still better than keeping it for myself.

I'm frustrated. My search for a good IDE to support my activities --
doing development for Python in the Windows environment -- are not
being succesful as I had originally dreamt. I have big constraints on
what can I do now; money is not an option, and my current machine is
still useful but it's below par for more advanced stuff. It's my
fault? Probably. But it's all that I have -- a 500MHz PC with 64MB and
Win98 SE. It has to be Windows, for reasons beyond my control (read
wife and kids :-).

All IDEs I've evaluated so far have shown so far some type of
showstopper. Some of them are fixable (I can do it myself), but it's
not supposed to be like this. Even for open source projects, the least
that one expects is to be able to install and run.

The only partial exception so far is Boa Constructor. Riaan is
responsive, and there is a lot of things implemented. However, it's
far from perfect. It's heavy, takes a long time to load, and has some
debatable UI features -- some may like it, but I think about them as
little more than annoying design inconsistencies.

DrPython has show some promise. However, on my first try I could not
start it -- had to patch the initialization code. My patch is a hack,
so I haven't contributed it back. The problem is simple, just that my
PC just can't handle paths with slashes -- I had to pass backslashes
to all os.* calls. I never had this issue before, so I don't know if
it's my Windows version or Python's libray fault (I assume the
former). I managed to start it yesterday very late at night, but
haven't tried to use it immediately. I tried it again now, and it's
bombing as soon as I ask to open a new file. Can I fix it? Probably.
But that's not the point - I should be delivering code to my

I also tried Wing IDE Personal. At first it worked fine; it's a little
bit heavy, but... as soon as I try to save some file it bombs, too.
Haven't tried to contact the support, because I had decided that I
could probably find other tool to fit my bill. Now I may need to
reevaluate it once again, but first, it has to start saving files :-|.

Other non-option is eric3 -- mainly because I can't install it, Qt
being commercial for Windows.

The funny thing is that I don't need anything particularly fancy. A
good Python editor, syntax coloring, a few helpers (moving blocks &
stuff). Debugging is good, but it's not what I really miss. Even form
designers -- I could live without them. What I really miss are stuff
that I regard as basic: a tabbed editor window for multiple files, and
a good project manager interface -- a place where I can find all the
files belonging to my projects without having to move around the
directory tree whenever I have to do anything. Could I do it using
only command-line tools? Probably, but it's not comfortable,
convenient or productive. A good IDE would bring me these three things
that I'm longing for.

For now, I'm still having to resort on PythonWin for all my needs.
That's a shame, not because PythonWin isn't good (in fact it's a
fantastic piece of software); but because Python deserves better.

Carlos Ribeiro
Consultoria em Projetos
blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
mail: carribeiro at gmail.com
mail: carribeiro at yahoo.com

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