Ipython Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to this exciting journey through the world of IPython. In today’s tutorial, we will uncover the features and capabilities of this interactive environment, widely used among Python programmers. Given how powerful and versatile this tool is, mastering it has become a must for any serious coder.

What is IPython?

IPython is an interactive command-line shell for Python. It’s been designed to provide an enhanced, easy-to-use programming experience. This unique tool elevates your coding endeavors with its superior debugging capabilities, its object introspection, and its elegant syntax highlighting.

IPython stands out as an exceptional tool for data analysis and visualization. It facilitates exploratory coding owing to its interactive nature, making it an invaluable tool for programmers dealing with data science, machine learning, and similar areas. IPython also supports parallel computing, which significantly speeds up your code execution when handling resource-intensive tasks.

Learning IPython has multiple benefits. Not only does it compile and run your code more intuitively, it also greatly simplifies debugging, and allows you to easily test snippets of code. Furthermore, being well-versed with IPython gives you a competitive edge in the job market, particularly if you are venturing into the fields of data science or machine learning.

Through this tutorial, we aim to make this powerful tool accessible to everyone, regardless of their prior coding experience. Let’s dive right in to uncover the magic of IPython!

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Getting Started with IPython

First things first, let’s begin by launching IPython. Just type “ipython” on your terminal or command prompt and hit enter.

  $ ipython
  Python 3.7.4 (default, Aug 9 2019, 18:22:51) 
  IPython 7.8.0 -- An enhanced Interactive Python. Type '?' for help.

  In [1]:

You should now see the IPython interactive prompt.

Running Python Code

Now, let’s try executing a simple Python code. Feel free to type any Python command at the prompt.

  In [1]: print("Hello, IPython")
  Hello, IPython

You can see that the output from your command is shown right below it. It’s as simple as that!

Using Variables

Just like in Python, you can use variables to hold values. Assigning a value to a variable is as simple as using the ‘=’ operator.

  In [2]: x = 5
  In [3]: y = 3
  In [4]: x + y
  Out[4]: 8

Here, we are initializing two variables, ‘x’ and ‘y’, and then performing an addition operation on them.

Basic Debugging

IPython has value-saving abilities that vastly simplify the debugging process. Let’s look at an example.

  In [5]: result = x / 0
ZeroDivisionError                         Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-5-be8f6d146a69> in <module>
----> 1 result = x / 0
ZeroDivisionError: division by zero

In [6]: %debug
> <ipython-input-5-be8f6d146a69>(1)<module>()
----> 1 result = x / 0

ipdb> print(x)
ipdb> quit

In this example, a division by zero error is raised. By using the %debug command, a debugging prompt is activated, allowing us to examine the issue.

IPython Magic Commands

IPython has some unique commands known as Magic Commands. These commands, prefixed by a percentage sign (%), offer some cool tricks that will make your time on IPython more productive.

Running a script with %run

  In [7]: %run script.py

This command runs an external Python script within the IPython shell.

Timing code with %timeit

  In [8]: %timeit [i**2 for i in range(1000)]
  248 μs ± 2.78 μs per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 1000 loops each)

%timeit measures the time your code takes to execute.

Using command history with %history

  In [9]: %history
  print("Hello, IPython")
  x = 5
  y = 3
  x + y
  result = x / 0
  %run script.py
  %timeit [i**2 for i in range(1000)]

%history gives you a quick look at your command history.

List all variables of global scope with %who

  In [10]: %who
  x  y

%who lists all variables in the global scope.

Keyboard Shortcuts in IPython

IPython also supports keyboard shortcuts for greater efficiency. Here are some keyboard shortcuts that you might find useful:

  • Ctrl + a – Takes the cursor to the beginning of the line
  • Ctrl + e – Moves the cursor to the end of the line
  • Ctrl + k – Deletes all text from the cursor to the end of the line
  • Ctrl + p – Scrolls through command history upwards
  • Ctrl + n – Scrolls through command history downwards

The power of IPython extends well beyond these features, but mastering these basics will significantly boost your productivity. Stick with us as we continue to uncover the capabilities of this fantastic tool!

Where To Go Next

After getting your feet wet in the expansive world of IPython, you might be asking “What’s next?” Well, the adventure does not end here. This is just the start. In fact, a thrilling journey of exploration and learning awaits you!

Our Python Mini-Degree, offered through the esteemed Zenva Academy, provides a comprehensive suite of essential courses that will take you from the basics to an advanced level of Python programming. This journey will teach you a multitude of coding concepts, complex algorithms, and the principles of object-oriented programming. Not just that, you will also dive headfirst into game development, creating your own applications, and even constructing AI chatbots.

The courses have been designed to cater to both beginners and seasoned programmers. Its flexible approach to learning allows learners to skip to the sections they find most meaningful, thus optimizing the overall learning experience. The curriculum is project-based, allowing learners to build a robust portfolio of Python projects.

Apart from access to video lessons, interactive training sessions, and coding challenges, on completion of the courses you will receive a certificate, certifying your proficiency in Python programming. Thus, joining the Python Mini-Degree not only equips you with a highly sought-after skillset, it also helps you stand out in the ultra-competitive job market.

In addition to the Python Mini-Degree, we also offer a wide range of individual Python courses that cater to specific learning needs. Be it Game Programming, Machine Learning, Data Visualization, or anything in between, we’ve got it covered. Explore our collection of Python courses at Zenva’s Python course page.


Learning the ins and outs of IPython unlocks a world of interactive programming possibilities. With IPython, you can dive into data, debug effortlessly, and turbocharge your Python coding experience. But remember, this tutorial is just the beginning. There’s so much more to learn and explore in the dynamic domain of Python programming!

Why wait? Fast-track your programming journey with our comprehensive Python Mini-Degree. Our course ensures an enriching learning experience with engaging content, expert guidance, and practical projects that prepare you for real-world programming success. Become a Python pro with Zenva and leverage the power of IPython to its fullest!

Did you come across any errors in this tutorial? Please let us know by completing this form and we’ll look into it!

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