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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Thonny vs. Visual Studio Code: Which One Is Better for the Raspberry Pi User? – Make Tech Easier

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There can only be one IDE for one Python user – this guide should help you choose which one to use!
Both Thonny and Visual Studio Code are built in to the Raspberry Pi OS. They’re both capable of running Python scripts and useful when you want to make stuff move using the Raspberry Pi. But there can only be one IDE for a Pi user, and this guide should help you choose which to use!
IDEs are feature-rich programs used to build software with any of the programming languages they support. Modern IDEs come with all the necessary features you need to do something. They boast lints, compilers, interpreters, a view of your folders, and sometimes even a way to upload code to a microcontroller board. They make the whole development process much easier.
Thonny is an open-source platform that’s dedicated to Python and only Python. It’s an IDE for beginners, mostly because of its easy-to-use GUI.
As soon as you start it up, you can basically just type what you want and save it as if you were using Windows Notepad.
A free and open-source “code editor” by Microsoft, Visual Studio Code can be extended to a full-blown IDE by installing premade extensions. Alternatively, you can make your own extensions and contribute to the growing community of Visual Studio Code extension-makers.
While Thonny and Visual Studio Code are two separate entities, they have a lot in common when it comes to functionality. Their overlapping functions are listed below.
Both Thonny and Visual Studio code can run, debug, and help you edit Python code. They can also show you where you made a mistake.
Thonny includes an assistant that shows you what you did wrong and where, while the Python extension for Visual Studio Code gives you a run and debugger plus syntax-checking in a single installation.
Python offers a command line interface with the Python Shell. which runs the code you’ve written, and prints out the values in the shell.
Thonny has a terminal that lets users access the shell at the bottom part of the IDE. It’s accessible and you’ll spare no time finding it.
Meanwhile, Visual Studio Code is equipped with the Python extension and won’t show the shell right off the bat. But once you press the “Run” button, it will open the Terminal and go to Windows PowerShell. It works almost the same as the shell in Thonny.
Choosing which IDE to go with really boils down to your specific set of needs. You can narrow the to just four:
As the Raspberry Pi can be pretty lacking when it comes to speed and memory capacity, Thonny should be better if you are making memory-intensive projects, but this won’t always be the case. Memory-wise, you may want to use other languages besides Python just to get the most out of its processing speed. Hence, the extra functionality on Visual Studio Code gives it an edge: you can try all the other programming languages with the same thing and see if it makes a difference.
Meanwhile, both can have their own uses when it comes to programming hardware. For one, the Raspberry Pi’s general purpose input output pins can be quickly controlled using Thonny. But for anything else – especially if they don’t use Python – Visual Studio Code will do. In most cases, though, you will be using Thonny when you decide to just try it.
All screenshots by Terenz Jomar Dela Cruz.
Terenz is a hobbyist roboticist trying to build the most awesome robot the world has ever seen. He could have done that already if he wasn’t so busy burning through LEDs as a second hobby.
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