Getting Started

Installing The Python Environment

In this class, you will each start by installing essentially the same Python programming environment on your computer, regardless of whether you are running Windows, Mac OS X or a flavor of Linux. In order to achieve this, you will need to either install the appropriate packages natively, or install our virtual machine that has the python environment preinstalled. We strongly urge you to try running the native version, but if you have trouble with it now or later in the semester, you can switch to the virtual machine.

Instructions on the virtual machine are at Download And Install The Virtual Machine The rest of this page describes installing the native version and two important follow-on steps: getting an IDE, and forming and installing a Dropbox.

Getting Python Natively

This will depend on what operating system you are running. Most of you will want to Install Python On Windows but you may also like to Install Python On Mac or Install Python On Linux.

Getting the IDE

In addition to the python modules you just downloaded and installed, you’ll want to install some sort of development environment or IDE (Integrated Development Environment). In class we will be using Wing IDE 101, available at:

You may eventually find and choose a different IDE if you wish. We will be demoing the Wing IDE in class.

Now would be a good time to check to make sure the IDE and modules are working correctly. You can test your IDE, Python install, and modules by running the following file inside your IDE:

  • Download Test File by right clicking and saving it in your computer
  • Open Wing IDE and open the file that you just downloaded
  • Push the green play button
  • Watch in the text output area at the bottom of the IDE for things that look like errors (You’ll be doing this a lot throughout the class.)

Getting Dropbox and Organizing Up Your Files

We strongly encourage you to use “cloud backup” for your course files. (Remember, a disk crash is not an acceptable excuse for a late homework.) We recommend Dropbox, but you can use any other cloud storage system you’d like. Dropbox works by creating a folder on your computer and automatically replicating this folder - and any subfolders you create - in the cloud. Therefore, the same files can be accessed on your computer, or through a web browser. They are automatically kept in sync whenever your computer is on the internet. In addition to protecting your files in case of a disk crash, Dropbox is handy if you’d like to work from a computer other than your own laptop (in, say, the VCC or something). Get start with Dropbox via:

You will only need the free version for this course.

Finally, you’ll be creating A LOT of files for this class, and they’ll be quite a pain to keep up with unless you organize them somehow. Once you get Dropbox installed, go ahead and set up a file structure like:


etc. on your laptop. You’ll thank yourself later.