Personally, i'm a bit of a perfectionist so i have spent several weeks trying out various Python text editors and IDE's. You see, i'm used to the Visual Studio type environment. Code completion and call-tips are essential for me...if done properly, you can have the whole Python manual at your finger tips. Yes, it's lazy, but nobody can deny that it is also highly productive and easy to learn. The problems i've found with Python editors is that most of them cannot complete library functions and self-made objects OUTSIDE of an interactive shell. For instance:
pkt = urllib2.Request('http://www.google.com')
Most editors will give you a list of possibilities when you type "pkt = urllib2." but that's it. Some of the better ones will show the completion AND the function parameters (call-tips) and the description/doc string. Where most editors seem to struggle is when you type "pkt." on your self declared object. I've not really had any great success finding an editor or IDE that can satisfy this. I believe Emacs and Vim will do it, but how the hell did they manage to turn simple text editing into a steep learning curve? So having gone round and round in circles, I think i'll probably settle with Editra. IDLE is pretty good but it just looks so shit on Linux. I'm sure some of the other editors can offer the completions and call-tips, but if i couldn't get them working with a few hours, i dismissed them. Scite looks quite nice and supposedly supports completions and call-tips, but i couldn't get it working.
As for you, Alan, you probably have a decent Python editor built into Netbeans? Regarding learning Python, although i'm pissing about finding editors and reading tutorials, it's one of those languages that you can just jump in and start coding by trial and error. You shouldn't really dismiss starting from scratch because Python IS significantly different to Java, etc. For starters, you don't have to declare any data types (which i found hard to accept) and then you have things like lists and dictionaries. There are tutorials everywhere but Dive Into Python is pretty good for people who already know some programming and i also like THIS one. And we mustn't overlook the official Python documentation: http://www.python.org/doc
Now i bet you think i've become a Python wizz already? Actually, no. I've barely written ANY Python code yet.