Microsoft Updates Python Tools for Visual Studio

Microsoft has delivered an update to its Python Tools for Visual Studio that brings support for new Web frameworks and more.

A week after releasing its Node.js Tools for Visual Studio 1.0 Beta, Microsoft announced availability of Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS) 2.1 Beta.

Microsoft officials said Python Tools for Visual Studio provide a great development experience for general scripting, web programming and technical computing. The new tools also support new web frameworks including Bottle and Flask; improve editing of Django templates; integrate with publishing on Microsoft Azure Web Sites; and support for installing on Visual Studio Express for Web and Windows Desktop.

Python has been a widely used programming language across the industry for more than two decades,” said S. “Soma” Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, in a blog post on the new tools. “We've provided great support for Python in Azure for some time. And in Visual Studio, we've been developing the Python Tools for Visual Studio for the last two years. Today, we've released Python Tools for Visual Studio 2.1 Beta.”

Microsoft has released the Python tools under the Apache 2.0 open source license and will accept contributions from the developer community. Developers can download the bits on CodePlex.

Somasegar said with integrated IPython read–eval–print loop (REPL) support for smart history, shell commands and inline images, these tools provide a great exploratory coding environment. And with unique features like mixed mode debugging of Python with C++ and remote debugging of Linux servers in Azure, Visual Studio provides a great development environment for Python developers, he added.

In addition, PTVS provides a solid environment for many data and scientific computing scenarios such as machine learning, Somasegar said.

“I'm consistently shocked that folks forget about Python at Microsoft,” wrote Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft software architect in a blog post from July of last year. “I am a C# person, myself, but the Developer Division at Microsoft loves their languages. C++, VB, C#, F#, etc and they aren't messing about when they get serious about a language. One of the least-known and most-kick-butt free products we have is PTVS - Python Tools for Visual Studio. Whether you're just interested in learning Python or you're a hardcore PhD who wants mixed-language Python and C++ debugging or somewhere in between, you gotta check this out. (Seriously, the mixed-mode debugging thing can't be overstressed...)”

Somasegar noted that developers can also run the same Python code in any modern browser backed by a Python engine running locally or in Azure. “Where PTVS provides detailed IntelliSense and advanced debugging and profiling support, IPython enables easy sharing of ‘executable’ notebooks comprised of mixed code, markdown and graphics,” he said.

Moreover, Hanselman, a popular speaker and no-holds-barred demo expert at Microsoft developer-oriented events, added:

“Let's get real here for a second. Lots of projects plug stuff into Visual Studio. You may have made it this far into the post and be saying "oh, wah wah, this thing sets up some batch files and some syntax highlighting and calls itself a full-featured Python IDE.

“Um, no. This is the best of VS and the best of Python and I'm blown away. Check this out. PTVS knows that I'm doing unit testing here and they've integrated Python Unit Testing with the VS Unit Testing UI.”

Also, with the 2.1 Beta the Python Tools are now installable in the free Visual Studio Express for Web and Express for Windows Desktop, Somasegar said. “Developers have access to great free tools for Python Web development with Visual Studio, as well as a complete Python + C++ IDE for data sciences work, he said.

Since Microsoft’s release of the Python Tools two years ago, this implementation of a language extension for Visual Studio has been used as a reference implementation by many other language extensions developed both by Microsoft and by partners, Somasegar said.