Setting up Python on my Windows PC

Learning to code (at least seriously) may be a little overrated. Hunter Walk’s Ode to a Non-Technical PM is one of the latest articles I’ve read in this vein (another was Unicorn, Shmunicorn: Be a Pegasus).

Still, the little nuggets gleaned from my earlier HTML 4.0 years and recent Codecademy/Udemy affairs have been immensely helpful. I can understand why certain things are done or can’t be done easily, the devs can explain programming logic and I’ll sort of get it.

Aside from that though, I still really want to at least have prototyping-level capability. So I’m trying to pick it up again – and on a Windows PC – gasp!

Most of the internet tutorials cater to Unix (Mac/Linux), so it’s not very Redmond-friendly. Plus, Python isn’t built into Windows. Still, I’m trying, and so far this setup seems to serve me well:

Learnpythonthehardway

Not a tool, but something I felt worth mentioning. I used to shun book-based courses, because I learn better by doing. This book impressed me though (I’m still halfway), with it’s dual emphasis on memorisation, as well as getting down and dirty with code. The short command-line intro is a welcome append too. You could of course, download the tools he recommends, but I did it a little different…

Git Bash

A colleague introduced this to me and I love it. It’s basically a command-line interface that lets you use Unix commands (e.g. “ls” instead of “dir”). Maybe a little overkill to download the whole Git package for it, but I figure that I’d use it someday anyway. Never tried Powershell.  Maybe there are some limitations to Git Bash I’m unaware of, but for now it works.

Sublime Text

Tons better than Komodo Edit (which was what the Udemy guy used) – fast, slick, simple yet featured text editor which I use to code Python. Free with a slightly annoying pop-up.

Python

Easily to download and install, not as easy to figure out this path-setting business, at least for a noob like me! I needed a bit more hand-holding than the Python docs. But basically what worked was:

    • Using Windows search to find “Edit the Environmental Variables” popup
    • Clicking the “Environmental Variables” button
    • Finding the “PATH” system variable, and editing to add the folder path where Python was installed at the end. Something like “C:\Program File(x86)…………;C:\Python27” – the semicolon is important!

A little reading on Paths thanks to Wikipedia. What I understand is that setting the PATH lets you execute Python from the command-line even though you’re not in that folder.

Fingers-crossed that this goes somewhere! I’d love to be able to create my own apps, however scrappy they turn out to be.

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5 comments

  1. Carl Kenny · June 19, 2014

    Well done on mentioning adding Python to your path. I think that is the point where a lot of people struggle, especially those with no command line experience.

    • wasabigeek · June 19, 2014

      I certainly wrote that with this in mind Haha 🙂 thanks for the comment!

    • wasabigeek · July 15, 2014

      Hey Carl, as you keep adding languages, it seems the path just keeps growing – is that something to be wary of?

      • Carl Kenny · July 15, 2014

        robots.txt

      • Carl Kenny · July 15, 2014

        Please excuse the comment above. It really depends on what other languages you add, but sometimes, yes. It’s not really a concern having a long path. It surely does make it easier when say compiling from the command line though.

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