Python IDE

Just over a year ago, I started learning Python and blogged about my early experiences. I love the power of Python, Gtk+ and Glade for rapid code generation, and find Python the perfect language for the work I'm doing.

That work is in helping to develop the Orca screen reader. This will allow people who are blind or have low vision, to have access to the GNOME desktop via speech, braille and screen magnification.

One of my frustrations with developing Orca is that we've been using the equivalent of print statements to get debugging information. The amount of information that is output depends of the debug level you've set. For anything that isn't covered by these print statements, you just add in your own extra print statements. This is rather primitive and reminds me of my early days in writing Java code back in 1996 before decent Java debuggers came along.

Why don't we just use NetBeans with it's Python support? The problem is that NetBeans (which is written in Java) is accessible. What we need here is something that isn't accessible so that when things happen in the Python IDE and/or debugger (things like text being displayed), they aren't generating extra accessibility (at-spi) events, which would interfere with the testing of the accessible application that Orca is currently working with.

When we are testing Orca, we either have to send all of our debug output to a file, or run Orca in something that isn't accessible (like xterm) and use the script command to capture a transcript of what's been output.

I therefore needed an inaccessible Python IDE/Debugger. I googled for Python IDE and eric3 was the top hit. As it's written in Python and uses Qt, which is currently not accessible using at-spi -- although that's been worked on -- it was perfect.

As Solaris now automatically comes with JDS/GNOME, setting up a Qt development environment and all the other dependancies that eric3 needs wasn't a slam dunk, but it wasn't all that hard. I've included my notes below in case there is anybody else who is interested in doing this.

When I first started up eric3, and saw all the grey blank icons, I was convinced I'd done something wrong and that the application wasn't finding the location where all the icon glyphs were stored. After starting to look at the eric3 tutorials, I can see that this look is perfectly okay and is to be expected, the gray presumably indicating currently unavailable insensitive options.

I'm now at the point where I'm going to work through the eric3tutorials and see if this is going to work nicely with debugging Orca. I'll probably have more to report in a few days time.

Notes.

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