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Carlos Iriarte

Learning Python | Setting up your development environment

python, learning1 min read

Prerequisites

This guide assumes you have a "recent enough" (3.7+) version of python installed on your machine, it also assumes you're using MacOS. We can add other configurations upon request.

Why do we need all these details?

I want to address one of the most time consuming tasks when starting any new project: bootstraping.

Bootstrapping means getting your project up and running, with all the tools you need to focus on your programming assignment. And let's start by addressing the elephant in the room, what's the number one tool you'll be using with your code? Your text editor.

All major programming languages are primarily text based. There's exceptions but they are not in wide use so we'll ignore them for now.

At the moment of this writing, my recommendation is to use visual studio code, of vscode for short. This editor is both simple to use and powerfull, and you can use it for other languages you're might look into learning next, like javascript, html, and css.

Setting up brew on MacOS

Most operating systems come with package managers. Package managers' main function is to install software in your machine in a consistent way. The defacto standard in MacOS is homebrew.

Note: In doesn't matter the directory where you run these commands. They are smart enough to install themselves.

Setting up vscode using homebrew.

[1] There's other programming languages, like piet or scratch/blockly that use visual constructs instead/in addition to text editors.

Let's make sure we're using the right version of python

MacOS Catalina comes with python by default, but the version is a bit old , and some exercises use newer features. It will also get removed it future versions of MacOS. So it's a good idea to install our desired version.

Let's install python 3.8 (the latest as of March 28th, 2020):

Note: From now on, it matters where we run these commands.

Let's activate that version so we can start coding. We will need to do this step every time we come back to this folder.

Let's check which version of python we have now:

You should see something like:

You can now type

and start creating your first program!