What downloads are required to work with Python?

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Hey everyone!

This might be a bit of a dumb question, but I'm not familiar with much in the programming world. I know a few languages that I've learnt on my own (online) or through a course in school (MATLAB). When it comes down to coding outside of matlab or a website, I'm not sure where to begin.

For the research that I am starting this summer, I require python, and I know the language, however I learnt python online. When it comes down to coding in python outside of those websites, I'm not sure where to begin.

What do I need to download? What is an IDE? What is a text editor? and how do I use these components or any other things I may need, together to make something out of the coding that I do?

I wish I could be more specific, however, I'm not really even sure what I don't know, so this is a little hard for me at the moment.

Thanks in advance!
 
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  • #2
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What do I need to download? What is an IDE? What is a text editor? and how do I use these components or any other things I may need, together to make something out of the coding that I do?
Go to http://www.python.org and click the Downloads button. That will take you to a page where you can decide which release you want, and for which OS -- Windows, Unix/Linix, MacOS. When you download one of these packages, you will also get some very useful documentation (in a directory named Doc). It shows you how to set things up and how to run python commands one at a time or in a file containing a complete program.

An IDE is the acronym for Integrated Development Environment. It includes an application that lets you create and edit python programs, and debug and run them. A text editor is a program that lets you create and edit (modify) text files. An IDE isn't necessary, but it's a convenience. In my case, I don't use an IDE at all -- I write my programs using Windows NotePad, and then open a command prompt window to run them. Any text editor would also work, but word processing apps such as Word or similar programs insert more than just the text you type, so probably wouldn't work.

I also use the primitive debugger that comes with python. I've written two Insights articles at this site, https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/simple-python-debugging-pdb-part-1/ and https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/simple-python-debugging-pdb-part-2/. Maybe I should write one that describes what I do to create simple python programs.
 
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  • #3
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I think that you will be happiest as a beginner if you download the standard package from python.org and try to use that. It will be easiest to get help from forums and the components should be well integrated. That will take good care of you. After you have gained a lot of experience, you will probably have developed your own preferences and can use other products.
 
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Mark44 said:
-- I write my programs using Windows NotePad, and then open a command prompt window to run them.
Notepad++, is an excellent free (open source GNU license) editor, with many advantages over Notepad. Please give it a try. It can be downloaded here: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v7.6.6.html -- a direct link to download the 32-bt version Windows installer is here: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/repository/7.x/7.6.6/npp.7.6.6.Installer.exe

The 32-bit version has more available plugins, and is the default, but there's also a 64 bit version.

Without any plugins, it has many sophisticated capabilites, e.g. global search and replace on multiple files, that don't get in the way if you don't call them up, but are great to have when you need them.
 
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