Newbie. What do I need?

I’m a retired engineer. I want to learn python and play with examples like the traveling salesman program and neural networks and use of copilot. I chose VSCODE for my IDE. But I’m overwhelmed by the seeming need to do depth first learning before I begin.

Virtual environments? Anaconda? Jupyter? Workspaces? Do I need any of those things? Everything I read says that they make things easier, but all their tutorials lead me down the rabbit hole of more and more terms that I don’t understand. So they are not making initial learning easier.

I tried starting simply. 5 years ago I used Idle and went through the w3schools lessons. But with VSCODE, I can’t even figure out how to use pip.

Is VSCODE too advanced for a newbie?

In your first paragraph you say your focus is to use Python and so you don’t necessarily need Jupyter. If you have VSCode running Python and Python scripts then you are are set.
Jupyter would make interactive use and things like viewing plots easier.

As for Anaconda, it is nice that it handles installing Jupyter and makes handling your environments for different projects. However, I’m told a lot of people find it too complex. I only know because I was suggesting new users just get the Anaconda Distribution to handle installs on a system in a way it will work, but others pointed out that is just giving the user potentially a new headache.

According to here VSCode integrates well with Anaconda. But again, it may be more than you need. Or more than you need now.

There should be a terminal or console you can open in VSCode and that is where you’d run your pip statements. See Integrated Terminal in Visual Studio Code .