Python Tools for Visual Studio

I do the majority of my software development using the C# language, but I also use C, C++, Perl, JavaScript, and others, including Python. Many of my colleagues believe that some languages just “have the right feel” to them. For me, Python is one of those good languages.

Until recently, I had always programmed scripting languages using the plain old Notepad editor. There’s something satisfying about using the simplest editor available. But I decided to try out the Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS). I hate the name but really like the tool. In essence, PTVS allows you to edit and run Python programs (OK, “scripts” if you want to get technical) in the Visual Studio program.


Let me cut to the chase and say I was very impressed by PTVS. The installation was quick, easy, simple, and trouble-free. I am always fearful of installing third-party tools because if my system gets messed up it can be very painful to recover. After installation, using PTVS was easy and intuitive, although part of this ease-of-use is probably due to my years of experience with Visual Studio.

Now, to be honest, PTVS wasn’t earth-shattering, but three things made writing Python programs much easier than using Notepad. First, the editor colors keywords, string literals, parameters, and so on. I was surprised at how much difference this made. Second, PTVS in VS automatically indents when appropriate. (Important because indentation is syntactically significant in Python). Third, the auto-complete feature called IntelliSense really helps for library function names. In addition to these three features, the debugging mode in Visual Studio was nice too.

Because I’m only a casual user of Python, I don’t know what the industry standard integrated editor is in Python-world. Or if there even is a most-common integrated editor. But for me, because I spend most of my developer hours in Visual Studio, PTVS is perfect.

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