Python vs Jupyter vs Spyder vs IDLE…

There are so many “words” around Python. There is clearly an entire ecosystem here. Here I break it down un-comprehensively.

Python is the language. You run Python on one of the following:

  • Terminal / command prompt: This is the black screen with white/green text used by computer geniuses in movies. Very basic, you can’t click anything.
  • Text editor: Not as “bare” as Terminal – has basic functionality. Examples include Atom, Vim, Notepad (yes you can run Python on the thing you use to jot down reminders). Technically Jupyter is not a text editor – it’s a web application – but it behaves like a text editor.
  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE): comes with bells and whistles, which make working on Python easier. Using an IDE is like using Word instead of Notepad to write an essay. Examples include Spyder, PyCharm, IDLE.

Anaconda is a bundle which includes Python as well as Spyder (IDE) and a button which opens up Jupyter on your web browser. I use Anaconda to use Spyder to use Python, if that makes sense.

Which one is the best one to use? It depends on what you want and I have not tested them all, but I like Spyder for data science and analysis.


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