Saturday, April 16, 2011

IDLE is Awful

When I first started working in Python, I used the built-in interpreter on the Mac. I was working in an astronomy lab at the time as an undergrad. For editing, I used the built-in text editor, TexTedit or whatever, and would run the Python scripts in a terminal window. They ran smoothly, and all was well.

When I started using Python at home, I started using Python for Windows. With it comes "IDLE (Python GUI)." It seemed nice enough at first, and I used it for a while.

It's only in retrospect that I can see that it was downright awful. The interface felt buggy. It forced upon me that four space shit--I know it's the convention; I don't care. Tabbing in any other text editor produces a tab, not four spaces. As a result of the "convention," the four spaces locked me into IDLE and made transitioning to any other editor difficult.

I'd had enough when I started testing applications that used Pygame. Nearly everytime I ran them, the editor would freeze and crash. Having to restart IDLE everytime I wanted to test my code made me very diligent about debugging but grow very distasteful of Python.

What brought me back? I had an idea for something, didn't want to write it in Java, and, although Lisp curious, didn't want to start on a new language. I wanted to prototype this thing, quickly.

Without IDLE, I happily exist on a crossbreed between VIM and command prompt. I know I could probably run my scripts right out of VIM with some hacky scripting wizardry--I don't care. I like my "IDE." My console window is a real console. My editor is my editor. They don't need to touch.

IDLE's so bad, it hurts Python and programming in general. When the IDE goes bad, new programmers blame programming. Programmers new to Python blame Python, even if subconsciously. I was all about programming in Python--after fighting with IDLE for a month, I stopped the project I was on all together. With IDLE being the most easily available approach to programming in Python on a Windows PC, can't something better be made available?

Of course, to use something better than Windows would be the first step.

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