In what follows we shall explore one of the most popular IDE PyCharm, used for one of the most popular and powerful programming languages, Python. We shall also briefly go through the basics of PyCharm and some useful tips and tricks for beginners. This is a short and quick PyCharm tutorial.
If you are just getting to learn a programming language like Python or even Java, you should by now know that code is nothing but a sequence of keywords strung together to make commands that are executed on any given machine to achieve some end result or goal. If you are a beginner, you obviously will have to deal with code that does just about the minimum to help you understand the concepts. You could then do it with any text editor.
You could write code in any number of text editors, as long as you get the specification of the programming language right. But as you progress into more advanced and long, complicated programs that are part of projects and modules, you need so much more than a simple text editor. Enter IDE or Integrated Development Environment(s). You could say, IDEs are programs to help you build other programs. There is even more to IDEs, which we shall try to explore in one of the most popular IDEs, PyCharm, for a powerful and widely used programming language, Python.
To expand on the introduction, an IDE is an advanced text editor that recognizes the programming language that you are typing a program in, its keywords, facilitates adding in external libraries, checks for syntactical errors, helps to debug your code, add a graphical user interface, create libraries of your own and create an executable or standalone application built from your very own code. Without getting into the background details, an IDE takes your code written in plain text, checks it through a compiler and in many cases an interpreter to establish conformance with the language specifications.
Any deviation from the specifications of the language will be flagged as an error and the IDE will ask you to correct it before proceeding further. Some IDEs are also capable of auto-complete and suggestions for optimum code. An IDE integrates all the tasks involved in development like coding, compiling, debugging, building and deploying into one single environment.
Well, a simple answer to this is in the section above, but we shall elaborate here. If the task or goal to accomplish is relatively simple and easy, your code is limited to what is generically called a program, and at this stage, it is easy to manage your code in the simplest of text editors as long as you know the process of compiling and running a byte code.
When the complexity increases, your program gets split into multiple files with multiple objectives and turns into what is called as a project. A project as you know is a collection of activities and tasks to achieve a common goal. Keeping a track of all such files and any other resources becomes next to impossible using a text editor.
An IDE helps you organize your files into a workspace, helping to reduce the complexity involved in the management of these files. As mentioned before, the IDE also helps you run your code through a compiler or an interpreter, checking your code against language specifications. Even if your code conforms to language specifications, you would sometimes need to debug your code to see why it is not giving you an expected result. In modern and complex systems like android, there is a concept of build, where there are a lot of dependencies on system or external libraries.
An IDE helps you build a program that can be run using all the system or external dependencies. An IDE then is a tool used to reduce the complexity involved in the management of a complete project.
If you are a beginner at programming, you most probably would have started coding in Python. Not so long ago it used to be C or even C, that beginners used to start coding with. So why Python for beginners? Well, it is a programming language that works at any scale. For a beginner, Python coding specifications are closer to natural language and therefore easily understood. Python allows quite a bit of leeway in terms of writing your code compared to many other languages and hence a preferred choice. Python also scales up to help build enterprise-scale applications and frameworks that run many of today’s business applications on the web.
Python is an interpreted language, which allows an interpreter to run your code line by line without having to compile the entire code into a machine-level code. This makes it easy for you as a beginner to build on your code line by line or block by block. On all other counts, Python is like any other programming language, having variables, statements, control structures, data types and data structures, functions, in-built libraries and support for external libraries.
To my knowledge, there is no language more versatile than Python as of today. You may learn to code in Python quite quickly, but it is what you do with it that counts. Most of the complex logic in building a real-world system is already present in the form of libraries. You just have to download, install and use those libraries to make your own code more useful to the world. Jigsaw Academy has a number of courses offering training on Python. Log onto Jigsaw Academy to learn more.
With the popularity that Python enjoys, there are a number of IDEs that have come up with support for Python along with other programming languages. IDEs like Eclipse, Bluefish, Notepad, Komodo, Jupyter Notebook among others, are available to download and use for free. Selection of an IDE is more of a personal choice than based on features of the IDEs or any differentiating factor among them. It is akin to some people preferring to use Apple products versus Android, or some people liking Linux systems over Windows-based ones. One among these IDEs is PyCharm. An IDE solely developed for Python programming. Let’s get to know this IDE in greater detail.
PyCharm developed by JetBrains is a cross-platform IDE, meaning it is compatible with Windows, Linux and macOS. Like many other IDEs PyCharm allows you to customize your workspace to your needs. Every IDE comes with its own unique features and so does PyCharm. Here are some of the features that make PyCharm stand out from the rest of the crowd.
PyCharm offers smart code completion.
PyCharm is capable of code inspection and suggestions.
Offers on the fly error highlighting
PyCharm also applies code refactoring to optimize your code.
PyCharm allows the extension of IDE through the use of over 50 plug-ins.
While PyCharm is packed with features to make the life of a developer easy, let’s look at some of the popular and important ones in greater detail.
The intelligent editor in PyCharm where you type Python code offers smart editing features like the use of various colours to highlight keywords, control structures and reserved words, auto-indent insertions and smart code completion allow the developer to focus on business logic better.
PyCharm offers intuitive features that help developers in finding any code snippet, UI element or source code quickly. With PyCharm, navigating between files within a project is quite easy.
PyCharm is intelligent enough to suggest changes to the code for optimized execution.
PyCharm can very well refactor your code improving on design, structure or software implementation.
After a quick and short introduction to PyCharm and its features, lets dive into how to use PyCharm.
Before you run PyCharm, you have to download and install PyCharm. You can download PyCharm from https://www.jetbrains.com/pycharm/download/#section=windows
Follow instructions to install PyCharm on your machine.
You may start using PyCharm right after the installation. When you run PyCharm, you will be presented with the welcome screen, which lets you choose between creating a new project, open an existing one or configure the tool itself.
When you click on Create New Project, you are presented with options to select the Python interpreter. You can also mention the location your project needs to be saved to on the hard drive. For this to work successfully, you need to have Python installed. If not installed you can always use the System Interpreter.
In the newer version of PyCharm, you will also get an option to create a main.py welcome script. Select the option before clicking on Create.
Once you create your project, you will get a screen with the project explorer on the left and the text editor occupying most of the screen on the right. The main.py file is highlighted as shown below.
In Python, you can designate one python file to be run every time the application is run, just like in C or C++ or Java. You have to add two lines of code for that to happen. If you look at the code you will see an if condition, which checks if the name is matching __main__ and proceeds to call another function from there.
You have run up an instance of PyCharm and it is ready to take your first lines of Python code.
An IDE also comes with a lot of shortcuts, tips and tricks to get your work done quicker. Here is a small compilation of such tips.
Many times you feel the need to repeat a line of code and make changes to it, than typing it from scratch. You can do that quickly in PyCharm by selecting the line and pressing Ctrl+D. You will see a duplicate line of code right below the line you selected.
While coding you are constantly making changes to your python file. PyCharm keeps a track of these changes, which you can retrieve easily by pressing Alt + Shift + C
Assume that you have used a variable called X in your code several times, maybe over 100 times. Now you think the variable should be renamed to Y. Normally you would go about replacing every occurrence of X in the code with Y. With refactoring you get to do it quicker.
All you need to do is right-click on one such occurrence of the variable and select Refactor and then select Rename. The name change will be cascaded to all other occurrences of the variable in the code.
What you have read through above was a very short introduction to PyCharm and its capabilities. There are several PyCharm tutorials on Jigsaw Academy which offers comprehensive training on each and every feature of PyCharm. Log on to Jigsaw Academy to know more.
If you are interested in making a career in the Data Science domain, our 11-month in-person Postgraduate Certificate Diploma in Data Science course can help you immensely in becoming a successful Data Science professional.