New to python, do I need an IDE or is vim still good enough?

Chris Angelico rosuav at gmail.com
Sat Dec 29 19:07:23 CET 2012


On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 4:44 AM, Monte Milanuk <memilanuk at gmail.com> wrote:
> Maybe its because I'm still just a hobbyist when it comes to coding, but I
> spend far more time 'thinking' about what I'm doing than typing things in...
> so shaving a few seconds here and there are less important to me.

The value of a good editor isn't just in saving seconds. A couple of examples:

* Bracket matching helps to catch errors. Especially helpful when
combined with...
* Language-sensitive auto-indentation. If the editor detects that the
last line isn't complete (maybe you opened a parenthesis that you
didn't close...
    ... like that...)
and automatically indents, then you have instant feedback, before you
even run the program.
* Rapid location of relevant code. In SciTE, I can put the cursor on a
word and hit Ctrl-F3 to search for other occurrences of it - for
instance, put the cursor on a function name and find its definition.
(A strict declare-before-use policy helps here, as you can be fairly
sure that the first occurrence of that word will be the one you want.)
* Highlighting of comments and quoted strings, including all the
esoteric rules about line continuation and nesting.

Several of these points are more important to the polyglot than to
someone who uses only one language ever. For instance, in Python and
C, this would show an error, but in bash and PHP, it's not:

"asdf
qwer"

The difficulty of debugging varies directly with the time between
making and discovering the error. Finding a problem by compiling,
running, and using a program is good (better than it staying till
production); finding that same problem while you're in the
"compilation stage" is better; finding it right at that instant while
you're typing makes the correction trivial. That's why spell-checkers
have migrated from "press Ctrl-Q to check this document" to "red
squiggly lines underneath your text if the computer thinks it's
wrong". (That said, the number of spelling errors in published
documents hasn't gone down since red squigglies were invented, so
instant feedback isn't a panacea!)

Of course, editors are as much a matter of taste as they are science...

ChrisA



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