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Wing IDE Professional 3.1.1: An IDE for Python


Installation

While the software installs effortlessly on its three target platforms -- Windows, Linux, and OSX -- 64-bit Linux users will need to apply a bit more effort by installing the ia32-libs 32-bit compatibility library dependencies along with forcing the installation (dpkg -i --force-architecture wingide3.1-3.1.1-1.i386.deb on Debian-based distributions, for example) to get the package to install and the program to execute. Even then, calling the getaddrinfo() 32-bit Python function fails on certain distributions; this problem manifests itself when the Wing IDE attempts to activate or submit a bug report. In addition to addressing this limitation, Wingware has announced its intent on compiling a 64-bit edition but is short of disclosing a delivery date for such.

Users of the Mac OSX version should be aware of the product's reliance on Apple's X11 presentation layer (see Figure 2). This dependency makes the IDE look rather ugly and slow, yet identically functional compared to its Windows and Linux counterparts. Like activation, you can rationalize the reason for this using this approach, but it still does not help make the program look any prettier on that platform.

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Figure 2: Running the Wing IDE on the Mac OSX platform under X11 isn't very attractive, but it is just as functional compared to it's Linux and Windows versions.

Additionally, the X11 server needs to be configured to allow Command key processing such that the expected keypresses work in the IDE (see the alert dialog in Figure 3).

[Click image to view at full size]
Figure 3: Mac OSX users will need to configure X11 to work with Wing IDE's key bindings.

One feature that could have elevated Wing IDE to a position vastly superior to its closest commercial competitors would have been a fully integrated GUI-building tool capable of consuming, displaying, positioning and debugging the various Python GUI libraries such as Tkinter, wxPython, PyGTK, and PyQt. Granted, the before-market functional and integration testing effort alone would have been a considerable challenge for a large team of developers much less the concentrated braintrust behind Wing IDE, but the results would have been a stunning achievement for any Python-centric development environment.

Finally, there are a couple desirable additions that will hopefully make their debut in the next major release. Such welcome enhancements might include refactoring capabilities, Python 3.0, and support for other Python distributions like Jython or IronPython. In the meantime, the 3.1.1 release certainly delivers a wealth of Python goodness.

Conclusion

For 32-bit Linux and Windows Python developers, Wingware's Wing IDE is an excellent, highly productive environment that will no doubt accelerate development time while further stimulating appreciation for the Python language. The product's extensive debugging capabilities coupled with its non-obtrusive code intelligence bundle make it a compelling tool at a reasonable price. Mac OSX and 64-bit Linux users will still benefit from these features but need to accept UI and minor functional annoyances. Regardless of platform, serious Python developers should take a serious look at Wing IDE.


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