Microsoft Launches Python Tools for Visual Studio Beta

Microsoft delivered a set of tools for Python developers on .NET -- Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS) -- at the annual PyCon confab for Python developers.

Microsoft has launched the beta release of a new set of tools for Python developers, Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS).

The software giant introduced the new integrated development environment (IDE) at the PyCon 2011 conference, which runs March 9-17 in Atlanta. According to the project's Web page on Microsoft's CodePlex open-source community site, a second beta of Python Tools for Visual Studio is expected in the summer of 2011 and the technology will ship in the fall or 2011.

Python Tools for Visual Studio is a free and open-source plug-in for Visual Studio 2010 from Microsoft's Technical Computing Group. PTVS enables developers to use all the major productivity features of Visual Studio to build Python code using either CPython or IronPython and adds new features such as using high-performance computing clusters to scale code.

Microsoft said together with one of the standard Python distributions, developers can turn Visual Studio into a powerful Technical Computing IDE. The company notes that PTVS itself is not a Python distribution; it works with a developer's existing Python/IronPython installation to provide the developer with an integrated editing and debugging experience.

Beta 1 of PTVS features core IDE features; debugging/profiling; and support for Message Passing Interface (MPI), MPI Debugging, IPython, IronPython/CPython, and NumPy/Scipy.Net. MPI is an industry-standard specification for writing SPMD (Single Program Multiple Data) style programs on clusters. Beta 2 will add support for Windows Azure and Big Data-in the form of MapReduce.

Microsoft's PTVS Web page highlights the IDE's key features as:

  • Advanced editing, IntelliSense, browsing, "Find all," REPL ...
  • Supports CPython and IronPython
  • Local and cluster/remote debugging
  • Profiling with multiple views
  • Interactive parallel computing via integrated IPython REPL
  • Support for HPC clusters and MPI, including debugging support
  • NumPy and SciPy for .NET
  • Support for cloud computing (soon)
  • Support for Map/Reduce and Big Data (soon)
  • Free and open source (Apache 2.0)

Microsoft's PTVS joins other existing Python IDEs such as JetBrains' PyCharm, which is aimed at Python developers overall and also at developers using the Python-based Django Web framework and those working on Google App Engine-which started as a Python-only cloud platform. PyCharm also features smart code editing and debugging, refactoring and other productivity enhancers that developers have come to expect from JetBrains' popular flagship IntelliJ IDEA Java IDE.

Microsoft is a platinum sponsor of PyCon 2011. Google and QNX Software Systems are diamond sponsors-the highest level of sponsorship for the event.