When you begin writing your first scripts, the natural way is to use maya script editor.
You can reach it by clicking the bottom right icon in your ui.
A few years ago with maya 2010 and bellow, this was a poor solution. No syntax coloring, code completion, or any other fancy handy stuff, so developers use to go for external text editors to manage and write their scripts. Advanced programmers still do it this way.
But since Maya 2011, the built in script editor has evolved and became very powerfull. Now has syntax highlighting, quick help,code completion, and all. Still missing python feedback instead of having to translate the mel it spits, to python, but with some experience you will naturally figure it out.
the other way
There are really fancy text editors out there with a lot of nice tools to work in maya python.
Some of them actually connect to Maya via “commandPort”.
Here is a list of some of them: (i haven’t try them all :))
Sorry, i’m not a Windows so i only suggest mac and linux/unix editors. But some of them have win version.
– TextMate for Mac (paid): easy to learn, connects to Maya with an optional plugin/bundle.
– Eclipse (win,mac,linux) free and very powerful ide: It takes a few complicated steps to make it work with Maya and python/pymel but after a few headbangs it’s really power in your hands. Setup instructions here
wing IDE: Never used it, but a lot of people seem to like it.
Jedit: my first try at a Text Editor. It’s nice, but never got it to connect to Maya. It is possible, but i just couldn’t make it work.
And Now Some really heavy sh*t!!
Hardcore programmers use older texteditors that can take a while to learn. Myself am learning. Never though spending so much time understanding a text editor program. Acknowledge that a Text editor is not a Word processor !!
In this category i found two that are most used, both are free and come with mac and linux. don’t know about windows though.
Emacs: which is kind of the same concept with different handling
There’s an active discussion on google groups about which editor everyone uses, check it here.
Remember that i’m not an expert or guru in the matter. My opinions are based on my experience which isn’t much.
That is it. Have fun.