PyCharm Edu: Tips & Tricks for Most Efficient Learning, Part II

September feels just right to start learning, or continue with even more effort and joy. And today feels just right for the next post in our series covering learning methods and tips & tricks designed to help you to learn more effectively and make you more excited about learning Python with PyCharm Edu!

Last time we posted about how to make your IDE suit your needs and preferences, and help you stay focused and avoid distraction. Today we’re going to focus more on the process of writing code.

Learn faster with a smart code editor

As you learn to code, it is encouraging to have an intelligent assistant right inside your IDE. Language-specific syntax & error highlighting are there to help you avoid code mistakes. You can use code formatting capabilities to learn how to style your code. And you won’t get stuck with your Python coding with code completion and quick documentation at hand.

Use code completion
Learn with documentation
Explore the code
Fix code errors
Style your code

Please note that we use the default Mac OS keyboard shortcut scheme (Mac OS X 10.5+) in this blog post. For more about keyboard shortcuts, please see the previous blog post in this series.

Use code completion

Smart autocompletion is an essential feature of a professional code editor, which helps you save time and avoid misprints. It is equally powerful for learning because you can use it to find the right variable, function, parameter, or any code construct. Start typing or simply press Control-Space to get a list of suggested options:Code completion

Code snippets, or live templates, can also be a handy tool. They not only speed up your coding, but help you learn new language syntax as well. Use Command-J to see the full list of code snippets available. Start typing to find the one you want to add, and then use Tab to fill in the blanks:Live templates

Learn with documentation

Reading documentation is a must when learning a new programming language. PyCharm Edu makes this process as seamless as possible.

Put a cursor on a class, method, variable, or function you want to read about, and then press F1 to open the quick documentation pop-up:documentation_1

Use F1 once more to switch to the tool window mode:documantation_2

You can click hyperlinks to find more details. For example, click int to read about the int class:documantation3_1documentation_3

Use the Back and Forward icons to get back to the documentation pages you visited recently:documentation_4documentation_5

Save your time and effort with the special Auto-update from Source icon. When switched on, it lets you read the documentation in parallel with reading your code. Go through a code fragment and read about all the code constructions you put your cursor on, without any additional shortcuts or mouse clicks:Documentation

Explore the code

Programming is much more about understanding and reading existing code than about writing new code. That’s why we develop so many code navigation features in our IDEs. While learning, it is also quite important to see your code as a whole and understand how it works.

When you use any variable, function, or method and need a tip on how it works, let the code speak for itself. Press Command-B to go to the declaration of an entity; use it one more time on the declaration to see the list of usages:Navigation

Another quick way to look at the declaration is to use the pop-up (with Command-Y):quick_definition

Fix code errors

Mistakes are an essential part of successful learning. They can also be very annoying and drain your motivation. The IDE helps you not get stuck in code errors, by alerting you to the most common ones and suggesting solutions.

Take a look at the code below. The red squiggly line code under task means there’s something wrong with this statement:code_errors

Put the cursor on the highlighted code to see what the issue is. Then, click the red bulb or press Option-Enter to see the list of suggested fixes. Choose the right one to fix your code:Intention actions

It seems there is still something wrong with the file, because there’s a red icon at the top right:code_status_red

Click the red stripe to navigate to the line with the error and fix it:code_status_error

Now everything is fixed:code_status_green

Style your code

It is important not only to write the right code, but also to write your code right. Try to follow a code style so your code is easy to read and understand. You’ll thank yourself later!

Invoke Option-Command-L and let the IDE reformat your code automatically:
Code style


There we have it. Let us know how you like these features! Stay tuned for the next portion of tips & tricks for more efficient learning. Share your feedback here in the comments or report your findings on YouTrack, to help us improve PyCharm Edu.


Your PyCharm Edu Team

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3 Responses to PyCharm Edu: Tips & Tricks for Most Efficient Learning, Part II

  1. K Nguyen says:

    Isn’t the hotkey for the quick documentation popup Ctrl-Q instead of F1 (https://www.jetbrains.com/help/pycharm/viewing-inline-documentation.html)? This could be OS-specific though, so sorry if I misunderstood.

    • Tatiana Vasilyeva says:

      Yes, Ctrl-Q is used in the default Windows and Linux schemes. I’m using “Mac OS X 10.5+” scheme in this blog post. Sorry if it makes some mess.

  2. David Aiken says:

    Employing a debugger can be overkill in many situations, but when it is used properly, a debugger can be a powerful and efficient tool. Source code debuggers carry the print statement method of debugging to it’s the logical conclusion.

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