Work with Python in Visual Studio on Windows

Python is a popular programming language that is reliable, flexible, easy to learn, free to use on all operating systems, and supported by both a strong developer community and many free libraries. Python supports all manners of development, including web applications, web services, desktop apps, scripting, and scientific computing, and is used by many universities, scientists, casual developers, and professional developers alike. You can learn more about the language on python.org and Python for Beginners.

Visual Studio is a powerful Python IDE on Windows. Visual Studio provides open-source support for the Python language through the Python Development and Data Science workloads (Visual Studio 2017) and the free Python Tools for Visual Studio extension (Visual Studio 2015 and earlier).

Python is not presently supported in Visual Studio for Mac, but is available on Mac and Linux through Visual Studio Code (see questions and answers).

To get started:

Support for multiple interpreters

Visual Studio's Python Environments window (shown below in a wide, expanded view) gives you a single place to manage all of your global Python environments, conda environments, and virtual environments. Visual Studio automatically detects installations of Python in standard locations, and allows you to configure custom installations. With each environment, you can easily manage packages, open an interactive window for that environment, and access environment folders.

Expanded view of the Python Environments window

Use the Open interactive window command to run Python interactively within the context of Visual Studio. Use the Open in PowerShell command to open a separate command window in the folder of the selected environment. From that command window you can run any python script.

For more information:

Rich editing, IntelliSense, and code comprehension

Visual Studio provides a first-class Python editor, including syntax coloring, auto-complete across all your code and libraries, code formatting, signature help, refactoring, linting, and type hints. Visual Studio also provides unique features like class view, Go to Definition, Find All References, and code snippets. Direct integration with the Interactive window helps you quickly develop Python code that's already saved in a file.

Code completions for Python code in Visual Studio

For more information:

Interactive window

For every Python environment known to Visual Studio, you can easily open the same interactive (REPL) environment for a Python interpreter directly within Visual Studio, rather than using a separate command prompt. You can easily switch between environments as well. (To open a separate command prompt, select your desired environment in the Python Environments window, then select the Open in PowerShell command as explained earlier under Support for multiple interpreters.)

Python interactive window in Visual Studio

Visual Studio also provides tight integration between the Python code editor and the Interactive window. The Ctrl+Enter keyboard shortcut conveniently sends the current line of code (or code block) in the editor to the Interactive window, then moves to the next line (or block). Ctrl+Enter lets you easily step through code without having to run the debugger. You can also send selected code to the Interactive window with the same keystroke, and easily paste code from the Interactive window into the editor. Together, these capabilities allow you to work out details for a segment of code in the Interactive window and easily save the results in a file in the editor.

Visual Studio also supports IPython/Jupyter in the REPL, including inline plots, .NET, and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

For more information:

Project system, and project and item templates

Visual Studio helps you manage the complexity of a project as it grows over time. A project is much more than a folder structure: it includes an understanding of how different files are used and how they relate to each other. Visual Studio helps you distinguish app code, test code, web pages, JavaScript, build scripts, and so on, which then enable file-appropriate features. A Visual Studio solution, moreover, helps you manage multiple related projects, such as a Python project and a C++ extension project.

A Visual Studio solution containing both Python and C++ projects

Project and item templates automate the process of setting up different types of projects and files, saving you valuable time and relieving you from managing intricate and error-prone details. Visual Studio provides templates for web, Azure, data science, console, and other types of projects, along with templates for files like Python classes, unit tests, Azure web configuration, HTML, and even Django apps.

Python project and item templates in Visual Studio

For more information:

One of Visual Studio's strengths is its powerful debugger. For Python in particular, Visual Studio includes Python/C++ mixed-mode debugging, remote debugging on Linux, debugging within the Interactive window, and debugging Python unit tests.

Visual Studio debugger for Python showing an exception popup

For more information:

Profiling tools with comprehensive reporting

Profiling explores how time is being spent within your application. Visual Studio supports profiling with CPython-based interpreters and includes the ability to compare performance between different profiling runs.

Visual Studio profiler results for a Python project

For more information:

Unit testing tools

Discover, run, and manage tests in Visual Studio Test Explorer, and easily debug unit tests.

Debugging a Python unit test in Visual Studio

For more information:

Azure SDK for Python

The Python workload includes the Azure SDK for Python, which simplifies consuming Azure services from Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux apps.

For more information, see Azure SDK for Python

Python training on Microsoft Virtual Academy

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Questions and answers

Q. Is Python support available with Visual Studio for Mac?

A. Not at this time, but you can up vote the request on Developer Community. The Visual Studio for Mac documentation identifies the current types of development that it does support. In the meantime, Visual Studio Code on Windows, Mac, and Linux works well with Python through available extensions.

Q. What can I use to build UI with Python?

A. The main offering in this area is the Qt Project, with bindings for Python known as PySide (the official binding) (also see PySide downloads) and PyQt. At present, Python support in Visual Studio does not include any specific tools for UI development.

Q. Can a Python project produce a stand-alone executable?

A. Python is generally an interpreted language, with which code is run on demand in a suitable Python-capable environment such as Visual Studio and web servers. Visual Studio itself does not at present provide the means to create a stand-alone executable, which essentially means a program with an embedded Python interpreter. However, the Python community supplied different means to create executables as described on StackOverflow. CPython also supports being embedded within a native application, as described on the blog post, Using CPython's embeddable zip file.

Features matrix

Python features can be installed in the following editions of Visual Studio as described in the installation guide:

  • Visual Studio 2017 (all editions)
  • Visual Studio 2015 (all editions)
  • Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition
  • Visual Studio 2013 Express for Web, Update 2 or higher
  • Visual Studio 2013 Express for Desktop, Update 2 or higher
  • Visual Studio 2013 (Pro edition or higher)
  • Visual Studio 2012 (Pro edition or higher)
  • Visual Studio 2010 SP1 (Pro edition or higher; .NET 4.5 required)

Visual Studio 2015 and earlier are available at visualstudio.microsoft.com/vs/older-downloads/.

Important

Features are fully supported and maintained for only the latest version of Visual Studio. Features are available in older versions but are not actively maintained.

Python support 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Manage multiple interpreters
Auto-detect popular interpreters
Add custom interpreters
Virtual Environments
Pip/Easy Install

Project system 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
New project from existing code
Show all files
Source control
Git integration 1

Editing 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Syntax highlighting
Auto-complete
Signature help
Quick info
Object browser/class view
Navigation bar
Go to Definition
Navigate to
Find All References
Auto indentation
Code formatting
Refactor - rename
Refactor - extract method
Refactor - add/remove import
PyLint

Interactive window 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Interactive window
IPython with inline graphs

Desktop 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Console/Windows application
IronPython WPF (with XAML designer)
IronPython Windows Forms

Web 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Django web project
Bottle web project
Flask web project
Generic web project

Azure 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Deploy to web site 2
Deploy to web role 4 4 3
Deploy to worker role ? ? ? 4 4 3
Run in Azure emulator ? ? ? 4 4 3
Remote debugging 6 8 8
Attach Server Explorer 7 7

Django templates 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Debugging
Auto-complete 5 5
Auto-complete for CSS and JavaScript 5 5

Debugging 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Debugging
Debugging without a project
Debugging - attach to editing
Mixed-mode debugging
Remote debugging (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
Debug Interactive window

Profiling 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Profiling

Test 2017 2015 2013 Comm 2013 Desktop 2013 Web 2013 Pro+ 2012 Pro+ 2010 SP1 Pro+
Test explorer
Run test
Debug test

  1. Git support for Visual Studio 2012 is available in the Visual Studio Tools for Git extension, available on the Visual Studio Gallery.

  2. Deployment to Azure Web Site requires Azure SDK for .NET 2.1 - Visual Studio 2010 SP1. Later versions don't support Visual Studio 2010.

  3. Support for Azure Web Role and Worker Role requires Azure SDK for .NET 2.3 - VS 2012 or later.

  4. Support for Azure Web Role and Worker Role requires Azure SDK for .NET 2.3 - VS 2013 or later.

  5. Django template editor in Visual Studio 2013 has some known issues that are resolved by installing Update 2.

  6. Requires Windows 8 or later. Visual Studio 2013 Express for Web doesn't have the Attach to Process dialog, but Azure Web Site remote debugging is still possible using the Attach Debugger (Python) command in Server Explorer. Remote debugging requires Azure SDK for .NET 2.3 - Visual Studio 2013 or later.

  7. Requires Windows 8 or later. Attach Debugger (Python) command in Server Explorer requires Azure SDK for .NET 2.3 - Visual Studio 2013 or later.

  8. Requires Windows 8 or later.

Additional resources