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Safari | Python Developer's Handbook -> IDLE





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IDLE

IDLE is written in Python and it uses Tkinter for the GUI interface. IDLE is portable and available for all Python platforms that support Tkinter, which includes UNIX, Windows, and Macintosh. Because it is written in Python, you can extend it in Python as well. Guido van Rossum, along with many others including Jeremy Hylton, Tim Peters, Moshe Zadka, and Mark Hammond are some of the people behind the development effort of the IDLE project. IDLE can be considered to be a fresh product because it was first released with version 1.5.2 of Python.

Tip

Some say that the name IDLE really comes from the surname of one of the actors who was part of the British troupe. Well, I don't know whether it is true or not.



The IDLE environment consists of several distinct modules, and each one of them is responsible for a very specific functionality within the whole environment. There are modules to handle the undo engine, the colorizer, the automatic indentation, the class browser, the debugger, and many other features.

The undo engine dynamically intercepts all buffer-changing operations, stacking the inverse of the commands. This engine also supports grouping options, which is used by some high-level commands in order to undo/redo multiple operations simultaneously. It also tracks changes made in open files in order to ask you to save them before effectively letting you close them.

The colorizer highlights Python syntax, and it works while IDLE is unoccupied. When you resume working, the colorizer stops.

IDLE implements a powerful editor window, which gets subclassed when an instance of the interactive shell window is created to provide you access to the Python interactive mode. This subclass is able to handle the execution of commands, including the command history management.

The editor window provides a set of functionality that allows you to create new files or browse through and edit existing Python scripts. Two other important browsing engines are also part of the IDLE environment: the Path Browser and the Class Browser. The former is used for searching modules through the directories listed in the sys.path variable, whereas the latter implements a simple Class Browser for finding the methods of classes.

IDLE also has a flexible search capability through its Find in Files dialog that lets you search through your files or the system files to find occurrences of identifiers or any other text fragments.

A debugging implementation, which can be configured using the Debug Control Panel, is also offered by IDLE. Keep in mind that this Debug is still in the process of development and tuning.

Among the features included in the latest release (version 0.5) of IDLE, I highlight the following ones:

  • New functionality in the Shell window that displays call tips for functions that know the documentation string.

  • New implementation for both the Path Browser and the Class Browser that is based on the tree widget navigation model. The Class and Path browsers now use a new version of the pyclbr.py module, which is used to parse a Python file to recognize class and method definitions and to find out the superclasses of a class.

  • Better auto-indent capabilities. It is now possible to set the indent width and toggle between the use of tabs in the indentation. Now, the auto-indent functionality knows how to indent the blocks inside multiline statements.

  • You can now import files as modules and run them as scripts from the File Editor.

  • You can call IDLE with command-line arguments just as you normally do with the Python interpreter.

  • A status bar was created to display the current line and column.

  • The Comment out region feature now inserts two hashes (##) in order to be more distinguishing.

For more information, check out the following:

IDLE

http://www.python.org/idle/

IDLE-dev Mailing List

http://www.python.org/mailman/listinfo/idle-dev

Installing and Configuring IDLE

Previously, IDLE version 0.4 used to be automatically installed when you installed Python 1.5.2. The version 0.5, which is now available, can be downloaded from the IDLE page in the Python Web site. To install it, you just need to save the files in the idle subdirectory of your current Python installation. Note that you can still keep your prior version by renaming it to something like idle 4.

In order to start IDLE on a Windows machine, you need to either access the IDLE icon on the Python Program's folder or double-click the file idle.pyw, which is located in the idle subdirectory of your installation. Note that you need to have Tkinter perfectly installed on your system in order to use IDLE, which means that in order to use IDLE you need to have one installation of Tcl/Tk running on your system. (Multiple Tcl/Tk installations might confuse Python.)

In order to run IDLE on a UNIX machine, first you need to obtain the source code, which usually is available along with the latest Python source code in the CVS treea tarball can also be downloaded from the IDLE homepage without any need to use CVS. Note that IDLE is part of most Python Distributions. Second, you just need to type idle to open IDLE's Python Shell Window. For more information, check out

Python CVS Page

http://www.python.org/download/cvs.html

Command Line Usage

The IDLE environment offers the following useful command-line arguments for your usage:

						
idle.py [-c command] [-d] [-e] [-s] [-t title] [args ...]
    -c command  run this command (see text below)
    -d          enable the debugger
    -e          edit mode (see text below)
    -s          run $IDLESTARTUP or $PYTHONSTARTUP first

    -t title    defines the title of the shell window
    args        arguments to be used

					

If -e is used, the arguments should be the files to be opened for editing. sys.argv receives the arguments passed to IDLE itself.

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