Open Source Python IDEs: Our Top 3 Picks

One of open source’s biggest contributions, Python, now powers countless technologies from robust websites to enterprise applications and even desktop utilities. With popular projects like OpenStack, OpenShot, and even the original BitTorrent using Python, it’s no wonder why the technology is ranked high up when it comes to open source development services.

Python is also one of the few languages that’s both easy to get started for software development beginners and a powerful tool for experts working on real-world projects. Most developers who work on large-scale projects with sophisticated code bases often use a combination of Python and its many useful IDEs.

That said, here are a few popular cross-platform Python IDEs that developers would find very useful.

1. Eclipse with PyDev

Possibly one of the most popular open source IDEs out there, Eclipse is backed by a large developer community and a plethora of customizable plugins. However, it still has some demerits according to many. Its performance in systems with low hardware specs is often criticized, and many others claim Eclipse is quite bloated.

Nevertheless, Eclipse is still the go-to IDE for developers who shifted from a different language, like Java. Eclipse can be augmented using PyDev, which adds a lot more features to the already useful IDE. PyDev can handle code completion, and can effectively integrate Python debugging.

PyDev is particularly useful for those involved with Django Python web framework, as it facilitates creation of new Django projects, and execute Django actions via hotkeys. It even enables the use of a separate run config for Django. Both PyDev and Eclipse are made available under the Eclipse Public License.

2. PyCharm

PyCharm is a popular commercial Python editor. Its makers also offer a free edition of PyCharm which is open source under the Apache 2.0 license. What makes it popular is the fact that it features everything expected from an IDE – code inspection, integrated code testing and version control, code refactoring, project navigational aspects, and even automated completion.

But not everything is good about this IDE as well. Its open core model is considered by many to be one of its flaws. The fact that many of its advanced features are not available under open source license can be a deal-breaker for many devs. Even without the advanced features, PyCharm is still considered as a great, lightweight Python editor.

3. Eric

A great alternative to PyCharm, Eric itself is written in Python using the Qt framework and is made available under the GPL version 3. The source code editing component of Eric is Scintilla which is also used in various other IDEs and editors.

The IDE packs many features similar to its counterparts including code completion, integrated testing, brace matching etc. Devs involved in Qt GUI development for applications will find Eric quite useful as it features a Qt form preview function. Eric’s massive documentation can be quite annoying, as most devs prefer not to go through the entire PDF. However, learning Eric inside out would give them a totally different perspective on the IDE. It’s still one of the best lightweight, full-featured programming environments available.


The list doesn’t include every best Python IDE there is. These are just our top picks that contribute to leveraging open source technologies effectively. There are still many more useful IDEs that could’ve made it to the list including BlueFish and Spyder. However, these IDEs and Editors can certainly be an asset to people using Python.