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Python IDEs part 3: Eric and Wing

Posted by Graeme in Software at 1:01 pm on Monday, 27 April 2015

Continuing looking at Python IDEs, I have been trying Eric and Wing IDE. Both primarily Python IDEs (although Eric also supports Ruby), both are very powerful, but one is free and open source, while the other is proprietary and expensive.

I tried Eric5 as the recently released Eric6 has problems on Ubuntu 14.10. These can apparently be fixed by recompiling one of the QT libraries, but I am not going to got to that much trouble to try something.

Eric seems to have everything, even its own web browser. One may expect that a web browser bundled as a help viewer would be a minimal wrapper around a rendering engine, but the Eric developers think differently. It is a full featured web browser. The one thing it did not seem to want to do was actually display any help. This is a good example of what is wrong with Eric, lots of rough edges and no documentation. I have not been able to discover whether there is any way of setting per project virtual environments.

Eric has what look like a good debugger, but it is erratic. It showed useful data for an error, but I cannot persuade it to break at breakpoints. Wing IDE does exactly what I expect.

Both have nice code browsers, what show all modules, classes, functions etc. in a single tree.

Wing has one big advantage over everything else: its auto-complete is the best I have seen, and it seems able to get everything right.  Wing is expensive and there are no concessions for individual developers, something that both Komodo and Jebrains (Pycharm) offer, other than that prices are similar, but for freelancers and others paying for their own software, Wing is a lot more expensive.

Wing has some disadvantages. I find the UI cluttered compared to the clean look of Geany, Ninja or Komodo. Configuring a project for Django causes it to add TEMPLATE_DEBUG=True to the main settings file, which means manual fixes for some configurations. It is only an irritant, and it tells you its done it, but I dislike unasked auto-edits of code.

I also probably need to go back and compare debuggers as that seems to be a strong point of Wing IDE, and will be important to compare it fairly to Ninja and Python. its Django template debugging does not really seem to offer very much more than Django’s own eorror messages and seems rather less useful than the alternative error page in django_extensions, but for general Python debugging it seems pretty good.

If I narrowed down my choice to Wing and Eric, I would probably pick Wing in spite of the high price, because it works. Given the other options available, Wing’s price is a deterrent given that the only thing I really want from Wing that other IDEs cannot match is the auto-completion. Will getting a higher proportion of difficult auto-completions right boost my productivity?

Part 4: Liclipse and PyCharm

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Comment by Python IDEs part two: Ninja and Komodo at 10:04 am on 6 May 2015 at

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