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Basic Windows Setup

This is a very basic guide to getting your Windows environment prepped and ready to run Python.

Please note that there are limitless possibilities and choices when it comes to most of these steps. The steps below only show one specific way to set things up. You are free to explore as you wish!

The steps below will have you install Notepad++ as your text editor and Miniconda as your Python interpreter.

Install Python

The interpreter that this guide is recommending comes from a utility called Miniconda. It's located here: https://conda.io/miniconda.html

There are many benefits to using this interpreter in Windows. The largest benefit is that you do not need to install a C/C++ compiler in order to install some Python packages (e.g. pycrypto).

We recommend installing the latest release of Python 3. You should only choose Python 2 if you have a need for it. Another great thing about Miniconda is that you can start with Python 3, but you can install Python 2 at a later date. This will use conda environments (not covered here; see the official docs).

Installing Miniconda

  1. Download the Python 3.6 installer from https://conda.io/miniconda.html (probably 64-bit)
  2. Run the installer
  3. Select the defaults, but stop at Advanced Installation Options.
    • If this is the only version of Python installed on your computer, select the Add Anaconda to the system PATH environment variable and Register Anaconda.
      This will allow you the greatest flexibility when running Python
    • If this is not the only version of Python, select accordingly!
      miniconda path
  4. Wait for Miniconda to finish installing

You may need to log out and back in again. YMMV.

Text editors

The best way to write Python code is with an enhanced text editor. There are a ton of options in this realm, along with opinions. Here are a few Windows applications listed in order of easiest (least features) to hardest (lots of features)

If you like the command-line, there's always Vim!

For the sake of this guide, we'll use Notepad++. If you grow out of the limited feature set of Notepad++, we strongly recommend moving to something else.

Installing Notepad++

  1. Download the installer from https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
  2. Run the installer
  3. Select all of the defaults

Notepad++ Settings

We recommend changing your tabs so that Notepad++ will insert 4 spaces each time you press the Tab key on your keyboard. This will make you compliant with PEP8.

  • Settings -> Preferences
  • Select Language and check Replace by space in the Tab settings section and make sure the size is set to 4 tab settings

Using your environment

We can finally start to write some Python code!

Create a Python script

The first step is to create a Python file. Here's one way to do it:

  1. Open Notepad++
  2. Select File -> New; you should have a new tab
  3. Save the empty file with File -> Save as...
    • Select the folder you want to save the file to; e.g. Desktop
    • Choose a name for the file (don't use spaces or special characters)
      For this example, let's save hello.py
      save as
    • Always use an extension of .py
    • Don't worry about the Save as type setting
    • Press Save

Saving an empty file with a .py extension will allow the editor to enable syntax highlighting. That makes things much easier to code!

Create the Python code you want to run. Maybe this:

def say_hello():
    print('Hello, World!')

if __name__ == '__main__':
    say_hello()

Save the file when you are done editing.

It should look something like this:
hello.py

Run the script

  1. From the start menu, select Command Prompt
  2. Change to the directory you saved your script above. Maybe:
    cd %USERPROFILE%\Desktop
    if you saved it to you Desktop
  3. Run the script with python <scriptname>. For example, if you saved your script as hello.py, you would run: python hello.py

Here's what my command window looks like:
command window

Conclusion

These directions show just one of the many ways to set up a Python environment on Windows. There are many more options of interpreters, text editors, and full blown Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). We also haven't covered any of the 138,120 projects on pypi.org (as of 7-MAY-2018)!

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A very short tutorial on setting up your Windows environment for Python

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