PyCharm vs. VS Code: Choosing the Best Python IDE

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PyCharm vs. VS Code: Choosing the Best Python IDE

Vinay Khatri
Last updated on May 22, 2024

    PyCharm is a dedicated Python IDE (Integrated Development Environment) developed by JetBrains. It combines multiple development tools, such as a source-code editor, graphical debugger, test runner, and Python profiler, and provides them under a single application. Also, it tightly integrates with other tools, such as scientific tools, databases, and Python web frameworks.

    Microsoft's Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is an open-source code editor supporting development operations, like debugging, version control, and task running. You can extend VS Code’s functionality by installing various extensions.

    If you are confused about which to choose between PyCharm and VS Code for Python development, you have landed at the right place.

    This article will help you learn about the significant differences between PyCharm and VS Code. Also, we shall introduce you to what exactly PyCharm and VS Code are, their features, advantages, and disadvantages.

    So, let us get started!

    PyCharm vs VS Code: A Head-to-Head Comparison

    The following table draws key differences between PyCharm and VS Code:

    Parameters PyCharm Visual Studio Code
    Definition PyCharm is a dedicated Python integrated development environment (IDE) by JetBrains. Visual Studio Code is an open-source source-code editor with a built-in debugging feature.
    Initial Setup for Python Development Setting up PyCharm is quite easy for Python development since it is a dedicated Python IDE. Setting up Visual Studio Code for Python development requires downloading VS Code Python extension and Python 3.
    Memory Consumption PyCharm consumes a lot of a system’s memory. VS Code is a lightweight code editor and requires less system memory.
    Load Time The load time for Pycharm is more than VS Code. It takes up to 1-2 minutes to load PyCharm. The load time for VS Code is less. It starts up instantly without any delay.
    Database Integration Using the Database Navigator plugin, you can easily integrate PyCharm with various database management systems, including Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server. VS Code can also integrate with database management systems using the SQLTools extension.
    Ease of Use PyCharm offers a wide variety of features; sometimes, beginners may get slightly confused while using it. VS Code is very simple and easy to use.
    Price PyCharm is available in Community and Professional editions. The Community edition is free, whereas the Professional edition is subscription-based. Visual Studio Code is free and open-source.

    What is PyCharm?

    PyCharm is an integrated development environment (IDE) for the Python programming language. It is a cross-platform IDE compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS systems. It tightly integrates various tools to create an environment for web and data science development with Python.

    Before you can start using PyCharm, it is essential to download and install Python on your system. PyCharm supports two versions of Python, namely Python 2.7 and Python 3, from Python 3.6 up to Python 3.11. The PyCharm IDE is available in two different editions: Community and Professional. Let us take a closer look at these editions below.

    • Community: This edition is free, open-source, and ideal for Python development. It provides features such as a Python code editor, code refactoring, visual debugger, test runner, and version control integration.
    • Professional: This paid edition is ideal for Python, data science, and web development. It provides an intelligent Python editor, graphical debugger, test runner, version control integration, scientific tools, web development tools, Python profiler, and database & SQL support.


    JetBrains, formerly known as IntelliJ, is a Czech company that developed PyCharm in Python and Java languages. The Community edition of PyCharm is available under the Apache License 2.0, and the Professional edition is available under the Trialware license. The initial version of PyCharm, version 1.0, was released in July 2010. PyCharm 2.0 was released in December 2011, version 3.0 in September 2013, version 4.0 in November 2014, and version 5.0 in November 2018.


    Here are some significant features of PyCharm’s Community and Professional editions.

    • Intelligent Code Assistance

    PyCharm has an intelligent code editor, smart code navigation, and fast refactoring.

    • Intelligent Code Editor

    PyCharm’s code editor supports Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, CoffeeScript, and CSS. In addition, it provides syntax highlighting, auto code completion, and error detection features.

    • Smart Code Navigation

    You can easily navigate your code using an intelligent search option to jump to any class, symbol, or file.

    • Fast Refactoring

    This feature allows you to refactor your code with safe Rename and Delete, Inline Variable or Method, Extract Method, Introduce Variable, and other refactorings.

    • Built-in Developer Tools

    PyCharm has various built-in tools, such as a debugger, test runner, profiler, database tools, built-in terminal, and integration with version control systems.

    • Debugger

    PyCharm has a built-in graphical debugger for Python and JavaScript languages.

    • Test Runner

    You can create tests using PyCharm’s intelligent code editor and run them using a GUI-based test runner.

    • Python Profiler

    PyCharm comes with a Python Profiler that lets you take complete control of your code. It measures the execution time of a program .

    • VSC Integration

    PyCharm supports integration with major version control systems, such as Git, SVN, Mercurial, etc.

    • Database Tools

    You can access Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL database management systems from the IDE.

    • Remote Development

    PyCharm integrates with an SSH terminal and Docker and Vagrant for remote development and deployment. You can run, test, and debug your code on remote hosts or virtual machines.

    • Web Development

    Since PyCharm is an ideal IDE for web development, it can seamlessly integrate with multiple Python and JavaScript web frameworks and support various languages, such as JavaScript, TypeScript, CoffeeScript, HTML and CSS, Node.js, and AngularJS.

    • Python Web Frameworks

    PyCharm supports several Python web frameworks, including Django, Flask, Pyramid, Web2py , and Google App Engine.

    • Live Edit

    The Live Edit feature enables you to open a specific page in the PyCharm code editor, and any changes made to the code can be instantly viewed in a browser. PyCharm autosaves the modifications made to the page, and the browser updates it on the fly.

    • Scientific Tools

    PyCharm provides support for multiple scientific libraries and tools for data science development.

    • Interactive Python Console

    PyCharm allows you to run REPL (Read, Evaluate, Print, Loop) Python console that provides various features, such as braces and quote matching, syntax-checking, and automatic code completion.

    • Scientific Stack Support

    PyCharm supports various popular scientific libraries, including NumPy, Pandas, and Matplotlib.

    • Customizable and Cross-Platform IDE

    With a single license, you can use PyCharm on Windows, macOS, and Linux systems. It supports over 50 plugins of different types that you can leverage to extend PyCharm’s functionality. Moreover, with the help of customizable color schemes and key bindings, you can create a personalized workspace.


    The following are some of the key advantages of PyCharm:

    • PyCharm lets you view your entire Python source code with a single click.
    • It offers a wide range of plugins through which you can extend its functionality.
    • PyCharm has excellent community support.
    • The process of installing and setting up PyCharm is straightforward.
    • It has numerous productive shortcuts.


    Here are some disadvantages of PyCharm:

    • The Professional edition of PyCharm is expensive.
    • Since it provides a wide range of features, it is not ideal for beginners.
    • PyCharm is a resource-intensive application, i.e., it consumes many system resources.

    When to Use PyCharm?

    If you are an experienced Python developer, PyCharm is an ideal option. You can also choose PyCharm for developing web applications in Python and other supporting web technologies, such as CSS/HTML, TypeScript, JavaScript, and CoffeeScript. Moreover, PyCharm’s Professional edition enables you to analyze data with Python.

    What is VS Code?

    VS Code or Visual Studio Code is an open-source code editor developed by Microsoft. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS operating systems. This code editor is optimized for building and debugging modern web and cloud applications in various languages, including Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, C#, PHP, and TypeScript. Visual Studio Code is based on the Electron framework, a free and open-source software framework by GitHub. This code editor leverages the same editor component, named “Monaco,” employed in Azure DevOps.


    Microsoft announced VS Code first in April 2015 at the Build Conference and released its preview build afterward. Later in the same year, Microsoft released the source code of Visual Studio code under the MIT license and made it available on GitHub. Further, in 2016, Microsoft released the source code to the web.


    The following are the salient features of VS Code:

    • Intelligent Code Editor

    VS Code offers a code editor with syntax highlighting and auto-completion features. The smart auto-completion feature provides completions based on function definitions, imported modules, and variable types.

    • Language Support

    VS Code supports all major programming languages, including Python, JavaScript, and TypeScript. VS Code supports syntax highlighting, code folding, bracket matching, and configurable snippets for these languages. In addition, VS Code provides debugging support for Node.js.

    • Debugging

    You can debug your code from the editor with breakpoints, call stacks, and an interactive console.

    • Extensible and Customizable

    You can easily extend VS Code’s features by installing extensions to add new languages, debuggers, themes, and other services. In addition, you can also perform static code analysis and add linters to VS Code using extensions.

    • Version Control

    Version control is a built-in feature of VS Code, which supports major version control systems, such as Git, Perforce, and Apache Subversion. Using the version control feature, you can manage the changes made to your source code over time.


    Here are some significant benefits of VS Code:

    • Visual Studio Code is a lightweight code editor.
    • It is open-source and free, making it accessible to everyone.
    • It is easy to use and beginner-friendly.
    • VS Code provides excellent extension support, which makes it possible to write code in almost any programming language.


    The following are some drawbacks of VS Code:

    • It does not allow you to open different windows of the same project.
    • It does not support remote debugging like PyCharm.

    When to Choose VS Code?

    With VS Code, you can effortlessly develop web-based applications. Also, it is ideal for developing mobile applications with minimal setup and configuration. It is more than a source code editor that satisfies all your complex coding needs.

    PyCharm vs VS Code: Choosing the Best Python IDE

    Let us discuss the differences between PyCharm and VS Code using distinct metrics.

    1. Price

    While VS Code is a free and open-source IDE, PyCharm requires you to subscribe to its one of the two packages intended for organizations and individuals, respectively.

    For Individuals:

    • $99.00 for the first year
    • $79.00 for the second year
    • $59.00/year from the third year onwards

    For Organizations:

    • $249.00 for the first year
    • $199.00 for the second year
    • $149.00/year from the third year onwards

    However, you can use Edu and Community editions of PyCharm for free. These editions come with limited features. They do not support high-level features, including a Python profiler, database support, remote development, duplicate code detection, and web development tools.

    Conversely, VS Code is a free and open-source source code editor. It provides outstanding features, such as version control, third-party integration, bug tracking for all kinds of projects, and the supported language you use to develop those projects.

    The only drawback is that this source code editor does not have pre-installed plugins. You need to install them as per your requirements manually. There is no limitation to the number of plugins you can install.

    2. Memory Consumption

    It is apparent that you would want to use a tool that consumes less space on your device, leverages minimum RAM, and operates swiftly without any performance lag. Let us see how much memory PyCharm and VS Code can consume on your devices.

    The Community edition of PyCharm is 372 MB and consumes around 400 MB of memory. It consumes pretty less amount of space. However, VS Code is exceptionally lightweight, with a size of 72 MB. It only consumes around 80 MB of memory.

    Furthermore, PyCharm may take one to two minutes to load and open, whereas VS Code opens instantly without delay when you click on it. So, VS Code is better if your system has space issues.

    3. Code Management

    Coe management is an umbrella term for features: syntax highlighting, code completion, code formatting, and linting. Both tools offer outstanding code management features.

    When it comes to VS Code, it highlights potential errors in the source code in red color. This helps you identify and understand errors quickly. It has a problems tab that enables you to list all errors in one place so that you can review all of them quickly in one go. However, the only drawback with VS Code, when you need to use Python, is that you need to download a formatter and a linter.

    Heading toward PyCharm, the Search Everywhere feature makes it easy to search files, classes, UI elements, symbols, and other aspects of the current and existing projects.

    4. Initial Set Up

    The initial setup is utterly straightforward as PyCharm is specially designed for Python development. However, in the case of VS Code, a source code editor for multiple languages, setting it up for Python requires you to spend more time downloading various extensions, such as Python Snippets, Python Indent, and many others. However, once you customize VS Code for Python needs, it is even easier to navigate and use than PyCharm.

    5. Database Integration

    Both tools support database integration. PyCharm has the Database Navigator lets you connect with various databases, including MySQL , PostgreSQL, and Oracle. It also allows you to provide database queries and receive results as responses to your queries. However, it is essential to note that this feature is only available with the Professional edition of PyCharm.

    Conversely, VS Code supports database integration through an extension called SQLTools. However, if you are a beginner, you may find it challenging to use this extension.

    6. Extensions

    Plugins and extensions offer additional functionalities to your tool. Both PyCharm and VS Code provide a wide range of plugins and extensions.

    As VS Code is a polyglot source code editor, you need to download the plugins and extensions to make it a fully-featured IDE well-suited for Python development. The best part of VS Code is that it suggests plugins and extensions depending on your project type. The VS Code Marketplace provides you with a plethora of plugins. As of 2020, this marketplace had a collection of 16,000 plugins.

    PyCharm does not offer plugins as much as VS Code provides because it is a dedicated Python IDE. Still, JetBrains offers 3000 plugins, and PyCharm is compatible with all of them.

    7. Git Integration

    PyCharm and VS Code both support Git integration. They let you create a new repository, open and clone an existing one, commit and stage changes, make a new request, and do many other activities from the application.

    Which One to Choose - PyCharm or VS Code?

    The primary difference between PyCharm and VS Code is that PyCharm is a dedicated Python IDE, whereas VS Code is a source-code editor and can be transformed into a complete IDE through extensions. Also, PyCharm is a feature-rich IDE that makes Python development easy and quick. But VS Code is also equipped with all features as that of PyCharm, except remote debugging and a smart search option.

    If you want something lightweight that is highly customizable, VS Code is an ideal option. Conversely, choosing PyCharm would be a great move if you want a specific and well-configured platform for Python development. Therefore, you can select between PyCharm and VS Code for your Python development per your project requirements.


    So this was all about the differences between PyCharm and Visual Studio Code. Both these platforms are suitable for writing Python code. However, it is essential to remember that PyCharm is a dedicated Python IDE. In contrast, VS Code is a source code editor providing similar features to an IDE through extensions. We recommend using PyCharm for a dedicated and well-configured IDE for Python development. On the other hand, VS Code is a better option to choose when you want a flexible and easy-to-use platform for Python development.

    We hope this article helped you determine the most suitable option for Python development between PyCharm and VS Code. If you have any suggestions or queries, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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