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Python debugging tools can help developers simplify the critical process of spotting and fixing software issues. With features like breakpoints, variable inspection, code evaluation, and more, debugging tools can increase developer efficiency when pinpointing the root causes of errors and bugs while saving time, increasing productivity, and enhancing code quality. This guide will break down the following top debugging tools in terms of their features, pros, cons, and pricing to help you pick the best solution for ensuring your Python applications are more reliable and maintainable:
Best for developers seeking Python debugging capabilities such as conditional breakpoints, code stepping, and more from a full-fledged IDE that is easy to install and use.
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5
PyCharm is a popular Python IDE from JetBrains. Customizable and easy to use, PyCharm helps simplify and accelerate development with features for debugging (code stepping, conditional breakpoints, remote debugging, etc.), testing, code analysis, refactoring, intelligent code completion, and more.
PyCharm’s top debugging features include:
PyCharm simplifies the debugging process with its graphical user interface that makes it easy to navigate and get acquainted with the developer tool’s multiple features. You can use PyCharm to debug code in multiple environments, including your local computer, within a virtual machine, and inside a Docker container.
PyCharm’s code analysis spots stylistic issues and potential bugs before debugging, while its quick fixes offer swift solutions for common code problems. It lets you set conditional breakpoints to help isolate issues and has watches for tracking variable values as code executes. PyCharm also has code stepping for identifying issues, increasing debugging efficiency, and understanding your code’s flow.
PyCharm’s pros include:
PyCharm is relatively easy to install, and its intuitive interface makes it easy to use. Its code analysis can spot problems before you debug, and having a long list of IDE features at your disposal that go way beyond debugging (version control integration, intelligent code analysis, code completion, etc.) is another plus.
PyCharm’s cons include:
PyCharm is an IDE that is packed with features. While helpful, that characteristic can lead to heavy resource usage that can slow hardware performance and negatively impact developer productivity, particularly if you use an older, less powerful machine.
Unless you opt for the free open-source Community Edition with bare-bones features, you must pay a premium for PyCharm’s debugging and other capabilities, which could be problematic on a limited budget. And while user-friendly overall, PyCharm may be a bit complex for beginners looking to adapt to all of the IDE’s features, including debugging, right off the bat.
PyCharm’s pricing is split between plans for organizations and individuals. Its organization plans include:
The PyCharm plan unlocks access to the Python IDE and its professional development features. The All Products Pack unlocks 16 tools, including 10 IDEs, a pair of profilers, three extensions, and more.
PyCharm’s individual plans include:
As with the organization plans, the PyCharm individual plan unlocks the IDE, while the All Products Pack offers 16 tools.
There is also a PyCharm Community Edition that is free and open-source with basic features. JetBrains offers special discounts for PyCharm for non-commercial open-source projects, nonprofits, students, and teachers.
Check out our PyCharm Review for more.
Best for budget-minded developers and Eclipse users looking for an open-source IDE with debugging that supports Python and other languages.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
PyDev is an extensible open-source plugin for the Eclipse IDE that converts it into a Python IDE. It offers multi-language support, code analysis, and multiple debugging features.
PyDev’s most noteworthy Python debugging features include:
PyDev integrates seamlessly with the popular Eclipse IDE. This unlocks access to many robust debugging features, including breakpoints, code stepping, and variable inspection. It also supplies developers with handy code analysis to spot problems before running code.
You can use PyDev to debug code running on remote servers. And if you develop in other programming languages beyond Python, it can help fulfill those debugging needs, too. While rich in features, thanks to its Eclipse integration, PyDev’s capabilities can be expanded even further via plugins and third-party tools.
PyDev’s advantages include:
If you are familiar with the Eclipse IDE, PyDev may be a no-brainer due to its seamless integration that unlocks many of Eclipse’s top debugging capabilities. PyDev’s open-source nature is another plus for developers looking to debug for free, and it is also highly extensible via third-party tools, plugins, and other custom features. And while PyDev is a top Python debugging tool, it also supports other programming languages, offering developers some added flexibility should they need it.
PyDev’s disadvantages include:
If you do not already use Eclipse, you will need to download the IDE to run PyDev. Eclipse’s installation can be large and complex, and users unfamiliar with the IDE could face a steep learning curve. Developers working on small or simple projects may find PyDev’s features to be overkill, especially when they could use a more lightweight or simpler debugging solution.
Thanks to its open-source nature, developers can enjoy all of PyDev’s debugging capabilities at no cost. If you enjoy PyDev but would like some added functionality and bells and whistles, you could purchase its commercial counterpart, Liclipse, which costs $80 per license.
Best for developers seeking a well-rounded debugging tool from an open-source Java IDE.
Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Komodo IDE is an open-source integrated development environment that supports Python and other programming languages. The user-friendly IDE offers multiple debugging features, unit testing, code intelligence, version control integration, and more.
Komodo IDE’s long list of debugging features is highlighted by:
Komodo IDE simplifies debugging by helping developers write higher-quality code faster, which minimizes bugs in the first place. It supports multiple programming languages beyond Python and offers code analysis to spot bugs before running code.
The visual debugger helps with setting breakpoints, code stepping, and variable inspection, and you can use Komodo IDE for remote debugging, too. Komodo IDE also integrates with popular version control systems like Mercurial and Git for enhanced collaboration and source code management, plus Python testing frameworks so you can run unit tests with ease.
Komodo IDE’s strengths include:
While developers used to have to pay to unlock Komodo IDE’s debugging capabilities, that is no longer the case since ActiveState converted it to an open-source tool. This is a plus for developers with limited budgets. Komodo’s multi-language support offers versatility for developers working with multiple programming languages beyond Python, and its user-friendliness offers an easy transition for those new to the tool. Komodo IDE also offers comprehensive debugging via breakpoints, code stepping, remote debugging, variable inspection, and more.
Komodo IDE’s weaknesses include:
Developers using older computers may find Komodo IDE to be quite resource-intensive. The lack of continued support from ActiveState since the switch to open-source may be another negative for some, and its community may not be as robust or supportive as other Python debugging tools, such as PyCharm.
Komodo IDE used to have a commercial version that charged users for its most advanced features.
That commercial version is no longer available, however, as ActiveState decided in December 2022 to stop developing code, offering new features, or fixing bugs or security issues for Komodo IDE. Instead, the company open-sourced the code to allow its community to support the project. In short, Komodo IDE is now open-source and free to use while still keeping much of the functionality from the paid commercial version, such as debugging, code analysis, code completion, etc.
There are several things to look for when browsing Python debugging tools to ensure you make the right choice for your development needs. For starters, the Python debugging tool should be easy to use with an intuitive interface. It should integrate seamlessly with your IDE or code editor and be compatible with your current Python version as well as any frameworks or libraries attached to your project. If you are on a limited budget, consider an open-source Python debugging tool that is free to use. Some paid debugging tools, while offering advanced functionality, can get pricey.
To avoid losses in productivity, search for Python debugging tools known for having solid performance that are not resource-intensive. Also, look for debugging tools that are customizable to fit your unique workflow. The ideal Python debugger will have solid documentation and a large community for added support when needed. As for specific features to look for, many of the top Python debugging tools offer breakpoint support, code stepping, code evaluation, variable inspection, script/module debugging, remote debugging, exception handling, integration with version control systems, and more.
While evaluating the best code debuggers for Python, we created six weighted categories containing important sub criteria. Our sub criteria was then used to assign scores (ranging from 1-5) to each debugging software on our list, giving us a total score for each platform. The top three options with the highest overall score made our list.
Below you can find an explanation of our evaluation criteria and examples of sub criteria, alongside their percentage score.
Pricing is a key factor for choosing a debugging tool. For our Pricing criteria, we looked at sub criteria that included the following:
Core Features offered by debugging tools are especially important, as Python developers often seek to limit the amount of time and effort needed to find and fix errors in their code. We looked at several sub criteria for our Core Features evaluation, including (but not limited to):
Having someone to reach out to is important in the event you experience issues with your Python debugging software. For our Customer Support criteria, we looked at the following support options to see if they were available and, if so, during which hours:
Using a code debugger with a low learning curve and maintenance needs helps Python programmers fix errors in code more efficiently. Our Ease of Use criteria looked at the following sub criteria:
For our Performance criteria, we looked at the following sub criteria:
Finally, to truly evaluate the refactoring software on our list, we looked at other user reviews to see how users with diverse backgrounds viewed our options. Reviews can be subjective, so we ranked this criteria with lowest importance on our list.