[Tutor] RE: Using IDLE on Mac OS X?

Brian van den Broek bvande at po-box.mcgill.ca
Wed Mar 30 15:51:56 CEST 2005

Lee Cullens said unto the world upon 2005-03-29 23:52:
> This is not a great way to start on this list, but I am having trouble 
> with an annoyance that I have not been able to solve and have not found 
> an answer to elsewhere.
> (Dual 2.5 Mac G5; 10.3.8; Python 2.3; retired software engineer getting 
> started with Python)
> I don't like using Python via the Bash terminal and PythonIDE works well 
> but as you know is somewhat lacking, and I'm not ready yet to shell out 
> for something like WingIDE.  So I started using IDLE but have found an 
> annoyance with it on (OS X) 10.3.8 - reportedly not a problem on 10.2.  
> In the Help menu, the About and IDLE Help work fine, but the Python Docs 
> selection is DOA as is defining an alternate help source with the 
> correct Python site URL.
> Yes I know I can always click on a link in Safari to bring such up, but 
> would like to use the help viewer from within IDLE.  Just getting 
> started, I make a lot of trips to the Python Docs :~)   Does anyone on 
> this list have any experience with the problem or know of any 
> appropriate links?
> Thanks,
> Lee C

Hi Lee,

welcome to the list and to Python!

I'm ignorant of what goes on in the Mac. I know on Windows 
installations there is a compiled help (.chm) file bundled with the 
Python installer and the option to download the help files as html 
from the python site.

There is also a way to get (much of) the documentation within IDLE (or 
when running Python in a bash shell for that mater). Try help() at the 
prompt -- that gets you much of the documentation via pydoc. You can 
also call help(some_object_or_imported_module) This will also work for 
your own objects, if you give them docstrings. Very handy.

At least on Windows, if you have the html docs installed and have set 
the pythondocs environment variable to point the the directory where 
they are installed[*], help(topics) pulls up a menu that gives you 
access to much of them, too. This feature seems little known, but I've 
found it handy.

[*] On windows, putting
SET PYTHONDOCS=[my html docs install dir]
(with the obvious substitution) into my autoexec.bat worked. No idea 
for the Mac.

Brian vdB

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