Review: PyCharm

12 Feb 2021

category is ~ ide ~ pycharm ~ unpaid review ~ python ~

I've used a few different code editors, but when I started working as a developer, I was curious about trying out an IDE for efficiency. I had heard a few things about PyCharm but for one reason or another, had never got around to checking it out. Okay, to be honest, two specific things initially put me off it:

  1. Its unattractive interface. 🤷🏼‍
  2. The name of its manufacturer, JetBrains, grosses me out. Still, according to their Twitter bio, they are the world's leading vendor of professional development tools, so more fool me.

My employer was paying for the licence, though, so I decided to give it a go. I know I haven't discovered the full gamut of PyCharm's features just yet, but here are some things I like about it so far:

One disadvantage of PyCharm that struck me almost immediately was its slow speed and resource-heaviness.. Yes, it is powerful, but it lags, and drains the battery very quickly. At work, I use a high-end laptop and I really don't get why it is so noisy. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for code changes to update in the editor, or even for it to show the current Git branch after checking out — which could be potentially disastrous, but luckily I now always double-check before proceeding.

Despite these shortcomings, I plan to continue using PyCharm at my job. I've since customised a layout that I find acceptable, and the features listed above are a good incentive to keep using it. I work with two displays, the left one being the external monitor, which shows PyCharm, and the right one being my laptop itself for "everything else". Pretty often, I have VS Code open on my laptop for certain use cases. For example, I just find the global search on there a lot friendlier. As my main tool at home, I'm still using VS Code with a Python extension and it's great. I find it a lot more intuitive and attractive, and my personal laptop also has less memory so I'm not gonna burden it with a bulky program like PyCharm.

If you're a beginner, I believe that PyCharm would be overkill, and it might be more beneficial to use more language-agnostic software (such as VS Code). The thing to remember is that while a lot of people in this industry are weirdly opinionated about their tools, you only have to use what's right for you. By all means, try stuff out, but don't feel pressured into sticking with something you hate!


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