What is PyCharm: Full Guide with Pros, Cons, and How to Get Started

  • 11 mins read

What is PyCharm: Full Guide with Pros, Cons, and How to Get Started

If you’re wondering what is PyCharm, then you probably already know a bit about Python.

Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It’s known for its readability, unique syntax, and versatility.

Many new web developers and computer programmers choose Python as their first language. Several choose to stick with it for their entire career, only using other languages when necessary.

Google famously loves Python so much that they only use other languages as a “last resort” option. If they could use Python for everything, they would.

Since Python is so popular, its community has established many tools to expand itself even further.

PyCharm is a hybrid IDE platform developed by JetBrains that helps programmers in coding using Python.

What is an IDE?

Before you understand what is PyCharm, you’ll have to understand what an IDE, or integrated development environment, is in general.

At its most basic, an IDE will put all of the complex pieces of a puzzle together so they are all in one convenient place.

An IDE is different from a text editor in that it integrates many more tools within one application. For example, you’re likely to find a source code editor, debugger, and local build automation all within the same IDE.

These platforms expedite the coding and programming process by smoothing out your workflow.

Sometimes, people will even develop their own IDE to cater to their specific project’s needs.

Using An IDE

Some people argue that IDEs are for lazy coders.

That is simply not the case.

Imagine you leave your home to go on vacation for two weeks. A sizeable amount of clutter has accumulated throughout the house.

You see this giant pile of clothes that needs to be organized quickly so you can get back to work with little hassle.

Frankly, the pile is just too large to do it all by yourself.

So, you consolidate it. 

You organize it into smaller piles, breaking down tasks until your workflow makes enough sense to complete the work in a short period.

An IDE consolidates your code so you can finish your project quickly with less effort focused on sweating the small stuff.

Who Is JetBrains?

PyCharm was created by JetBrains. 

JetBrains was founded in the Czech Republic back in the year 2000. 

Three Russian software developers saw a need for enhanced productivity for developers and programmers.

At the time, the average person’s experience on the internet was changing drastically at a rapid rate.

The founders of JetBrains knew that something needed to be done to keep up with the incredibly fast increased supply and demand of everyday internet use.

PyCharm wasn’t the first Python-focused IDE of its kind.

ActiveState’s PyDev was a pretty worthy competitor. However, its mechanics were a bit more broad, so JetBrains held some leverage over its competition.

PyCharm was released to the public, after some beta testing, in 2010. Currently, over 800,000 people trust the platform.

Now that you know the groundwork, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of what is PyCharm.

What is PyCharm: Features

Code Editor

PyCharm’s code editor improves the already-impressive readability of the Python language.

It uses colors, memorable keywords, functions, and classes to organize code while you write it.

Plus, PyCharm’s code editor detects mistakes quickly. It’s a bit similar to the writing program Grammarly that edits as you go. 

Finally, the autocomplete feature makes finishing your work seamless and quick.

what is pycharm interface

Refactoring

You can make local and global changes efficiently in PyCharm.

This feature makes it possible to do more editing while you work so you avoid making bigger changes once your project is completed.

The refactor feature in PyCharm is so easy to use that it takes one button from your dropdown menu or the command: ^ T. 

Refactoring can take several hours off your project completion time.

pycharm refactoring

Code Navigation

You can locate specific elements or lines of code within seconds using code navigation. Navigate by specifying the method or last edited line. You can also use neat features such as lens mode.

The lens mode allows you to dig as deeply into your working code as possible. Just hover your mouse over the scroll bar to see where you are.

pycharm navigation

Support For Frameworks And Libraries

Thousands of frameworks and libraries are compatible with Python. Naturally, developers will want to use these tools to their advantage.

PyCharm offers support for some of the most popular frameworks like Django, and assistance for Python-specific libraries like NumPy. 

It also allows for integration with various tools that can further streamline your workflow.

Advantages of PyCharm

There are many IDEs that specialize in specific programming languages. There are even direct competitors to PyCharm.

However, PyCharm’s unique setup makes it a go-to for many programmers and even big-name companies.

  • Remote Development – You can operate your project via remote or virtual hosts with PyCharm. This allows for seamless testing, debugging, and deploying applications.
  • Productive Shortcuts – Save time as you’re coding while still maintaining high-quality code, minimizing mistakes.
  • Plenty Of Plugins – A major draw towards PyCharm for developers and programmers is its versatility, including the wide array of plugins that are available to you.
  • User-Friendly – PyCharm is easy to learn, even for beginners who have just learned Python.
  • Powerful – Community PyCharm is a wonderful budget-friendly option to get started, but its paid commercial version is undeniably powerful.
  • Simple Installation – You can download PyCharm with a few simple clicks!

Disadvantages Of PyCharm

No IDE will be perfect.

It’s important to understand PyCharm’s disadvantages while you navigate the platform.

  • Paid Version – While impressively powerful, the paid version of PyCharm is a bit expensive.
  • Bugs – all computer programs and applications will occasionally face problems like bugs or glitches. Certain tools within PyCharm frequently cause problems for users.
  • Memory – PyCharm requires a lot of memory to operate, which may cause your computer to run slowly.

Installing PyCharm

Regardless of your operating system, PyCharm is incredibly easy to download and use.

The simplest way to download PyCharm is via the JetBrains official website.

You can choose between Windows, MacOS, or Linux. You can also choose between free (Community) PyCharm or paid (Professional) PyCharm.

After making your decisions, run the .exe, disk image, or snap package installer once it has finished downloading. Follow the steps to fully install PyCharm to your computer.

You should have at least 4GB of storage on your computer to run the program, but 8GB is recommended for smoother operations.

Once you install PyCharm, you’ll be able to get to work on your first project in a few seconds.

creating first project in pycharm

PyCharm Professional vs. Community Edition

If you’ve gotten this far, you probably realized that the professional version of PyCharm is pretty expensive. Meanwhile, the Community edition is free. So, what’s the difference? And do you really need to pay?

pycharm professional vs. community

The Community Edition is designed primarily for pure Python development, while the Professional Edition, a paid version, is ideal for full-stack Python development. The Pro Edition bundles WebStorm and DataGrip functionalities, offering robust support for frontend technologies, databases, Python web frameworks, data science, remote development, and Python profilers.

When it comes to language support, both editions support Python, Jython, HTML, XML, JSON, YAML, Markdown, XSLT, and XPath natively. PyCharm Pro provides additional native support for Cython, SQL, JavaScript, TypeScript, and via plugins, it supports Rust, Dart, CSS, Sass, SCSS, Less, and Haml, Slim, Liquid. 

From an educational perspective, beginners will be well served by the Community Edition. It provides all the necessary tools for a beginner to learn Python, and a streamlined, focused environment can be beneficial for those just starting out. However, if the Professional Edition is available without cost, such as through a university program, it may be worth using when the need arises for more advanced features and functionalities. 

PyCharm vs. Competitors

Clearly, PyCharm is not one-of-a-kind. Other IDEs specialize in Python-based projects, making it difficult to choose between PyCharm and its competitors. So, what is PyCharm’s biggest opponent?

Spyder

Spyder is one of the most popular competitors to PyCharm.

Unlike PyCharm, Spyder is an open-source scientific environment for Python.

Both programs can do similar things, but the approach makes a major difference for your projects.

Your employer may ask you to understand one or both programs, and you may switch between them for different projects.

PyCharm is more flexible than Spyder, but Spyder has a more expansive library.

VS Code

VS Code, or Visual Studio Code, is another popular competitor.

Since it features Git integration, debugging software, and code completion, it makes sense that it gets categorized as an IDE.

VS code is enticing because it is free, plus it contains over 16,000 valuable plugins.

Unfortunately, it lacks support for Django, which can be critical in some cases. 

VS Code is more lightweight than PyCharm, requiring less storage to function.

PyCharm’s user interface may be more appealing to beginners. VS code may be lightweight, but its usability is a bit more complex.

How To Choose A Python IDE

Choosing which Python IDE you use will be up to personal preference and employer requirements.

It would be beneficial to you to learn several different Python IDE’s to create a robust skill set.

This knowledge makes you a valuable asset to employers.

PyCharm would benefit projects that require immense flexibility to increase productivity.

Who Uses PyCharm?

PyCharm is a fan favorite among freelance developers and programmers. Teams of all sizes implement PyCharm into their businesses to deliver high-quality work to their clients.

Some notable brands who use PyCharm include:

  • Twitter
  • Netflix
  • Udemy
  • Lyft
  • Trivago

      … and many, many more!

As technology continues to develop, we can expect to see more people use tools like IDEs for their projects.

Who Should Use PyCharm?

An IDE is often unnecessary for smaller projects. You simply don’t need the advanced settings offered by an IDE if you’re creating a small application or just building your resume.

However, some IDE features are critical for application building, such as GIT integration. These features often make PyCharm irreplaceable to some editors and programmers.

It’s wonderful if you’re looking to further develop language mastery with Python. You’ll need a bit of experience with the language to use PyCharm’s most basic features, since it specializes in the language.

PyCharm is, arguably, one of the best Python IDEs on the market. Its competitors may offer similar features, but no two IDEs will ever truly be identical.

Using PyCharm for your projects is a great way to track your progress with the language. The easier it is for you to master the program, the more you will have developed skills in Python.

Ultimately, you will see rather quickly whether or not an IDE like PyCharm is good for your specific line of work. Developing within a niche will help you make this decision.

FAQs

What is the difference between Python and PyCharm?

Python is a coding language. You write lines of code using Python to create websites or applications. PyCharm is an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that works with the Python language. You will be using PyCharm to write code in Python.

Is PyCharm good for beginners?

Yes and no. It can be beneficial for beginners who are developing a proficiency in Python. Plus, some projects require elements such as GIT integration, which is a major draw towards IDEs in general. However, the learning curve with PyCharm can be quite steep since it is an advanced program. Take a look at your project and employer requirements before dedicating the time to learn PyCharm, or any IDE, if you are a beginner expanding your portfolio.

Is PyCharm the best Python IDE?

It is, arguably, one of the best Python IDEs. Its versatility alone is enticing for developers and programmers. This program offers tons of plugins, tools, and other features that just can’t be beat. Competitors are similar to PyCharm, but they can never completely replicate the program.

Is PyCharm Free?

There is a free version of PyCharm called Community PyCharm. It can do many of the same things that the Professional version can. Its capabilities make it a fantastic option for beginners who are deciding whether or not IDEs are a good fit for their work. 

Is PyCharm Safe?

Yes. PyCharm is a safe, reliable application to download onto your computer. However, it requires a lot of memory to operate.

What Is The Best Way To Start Coding With Python?

Online tutorials and classes are available at either low-cost fees or free of charge. Self-taught coders find lots of success with Python. You can expect to learn Python online within a year if you dedicate the time and effort to mastering the language. Alternatively, Python is taught widely at colleges and universities. It is often referred to as the “academic language” for that reason.