If you’re learning Python, you want a quick and easy way to figure out what the language can do. And what better way than simply opening your browser and logging into a website? In case you didn’t know, there are a handful of strong, in-browser IDEs with support for Python and other languages.
Of the five online systems looked at here, I first used ideone.com nearly a decade ago; I also learned Python on CodeSkulptor back in 2012. These five online systems all let you edit and run Python (and other languages) and fall into two categories—Either a generalized online compiler/interpreter or a specific training system. Let’s jump in!
REPL is short for Read-Eval-Print-Loop, a complicated way of saying a terminal where you can run Python commands and code. If you are learning a programming language like Python, a REPL is probably the quickest way to learn (back when I learnt BASIC in the 1970s, it was in a REPL).
Modern REPLs such as repl.it are more advanced. Press ctrl+shift+P and you get a popup menu with every command available that you can think of. That’s in addition to a right-click menu for renaming, copy-paste, and so on.
The free version also offers pair programming, live chat and running code. An excellent tool for one-on-one teaching. Now if they only supported Delphi!
In a similar vein, there’s also the open-source Skulpt, which CodeSkulptor was developed from; it also supports Python 2, with Python 3 still under development. There are several teaching projects developed from Skulpt, and it’s a handy way to embed runnable code in your own webpage.
Programiz has tutorials for several languages, along with online compilers for a couple of them (C, C++ and Python). Like repl.it, it’s a freemium offering, with the pro version costing about $15 a year. If you aren’t tied to using their online Python compiler, you can download the Thonny IDE and run it locally. It also offers apps for iOS and Android so you can learn Python on mobile.
Paiza is another multi-language site with a smaller set of languages than repli.it; most features seem to be free. You can even run code by sending a tweet to them and you’ll get the result back.
I get the feeling that the site is a work in progress; the IDEs seem limited to just editing, compiling and running code in 20 or so languages. It’s the only other site that I’ve seen that runs Scala, and even repl.it only has that functionality in beta.
This is of the older sites; I remember using ideone in 2012 and the number of languages supported beats all competitors, with more than 80 counting multiple variations such as C and C99. I don’t think you’ll find Ada95, Cobol or Fortran anywhere else (check out the samples of all these languages).
Idone is powered by the Sphere online judge system that also runs spoj.com, home of a massive online program assessment. They’ve run over 2400 programming contests since 2012 and have over 13,000 programming problems that you can try and solve in virtually any popular programming language.
Like Skulpt, ideone also offers a way of compiling and running Python (and all the other programming languages) via a web widget that you can embed in your site. This has some key uses, such as running practical programming tests in a job interview.
For slickness alone I don’t think repl.it can be beaten, and it is certainly the most professional looking… but any of the websites here can help you learn Python.
However, none of the web IDEs seen here come close to offering what you get with the likes of Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code or Eclipse. For instance, none offer online debugging (though there are websites that offer such functionality, including onlineGDB). In other words, these websites are well worth your time if you’re learning Python, but keep in mind that you’re missing vital features.