Writing Code

Writing code in Python is very similar to writing code in any other language, but has the subtle difference of being able to test ideas quickly in a interactive interpreter.

First, go and follow everything done in the Writing C section. This will get you setup with Vim and tmux.

Testing ideas as you go

Python is very fast to write and even faster to test. For this reason I recommend almost always writing code in the terminal using vim, tmux, and a secret new tool called IPython.

First install it:

sudo apt-get install ipython3

What we just installed is an upgraded interactive python interpreter. Run it:


Now you are in a nice interpreter:

▶ ipython3
Python 3.6.9 (default, Oct  8 2020, 12:12:24)
Type "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

IPython 5.5.0 -- An enhanced Interactive Python.
?         -> Introduction and overview of IPython's features.
%quickref -> Quick reference.
help      -> Python's own help system.
object?   -> Details about 'object', use 'object??' for extra details.

In [1]:

Now you can test ideas quickly and instantly see the output. I recommend always having this open as a pane when you are writing code. It will allow you to test ideas very quickly and do other very interesting things.

Assume we have a python file called my_program.py, and it looks like this:

def reverse(lst):
    return lst[::-1]

Yes it's just a function. Now open up ipython3 and do this:

In [1]: from my_program import reverse

In [2]: my_lst = [1,2,3,4]

In [3]: reverse(my_lst)
Out[3]: [4, 3, 2, 1]

Yup, we can directly execute the function inside our file. It makes for good writing.