Visual Studio Code: Stepping on Visual Studio’s toes?

Posted on 11-07-2019 , by: admin , in , 0 Comments

What exactly is the difference between Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment) and its Visual Studio Code source code editor? This is a question that is popping up more often as Visual Studio Code gains momentum among developers. 

If you ask Microsoft, Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code are distinctly different products that serve different needs. But as Visual Studio Code continues to add features, developers may decide that the open source, freely downloadable Visual Studio Code is all they need.

Microsoft describes Visual Studio as a full-featured development environment that accommodates complex workflows. Visual Studio integrates all kinds of tools in one environment, from designers, code analyzers, and debuggers to testing and deployment tools. Developers can use Visual Studio to build cloud, mobile, and desktop apps for Windows and MacOS. 

Microsoft describes Visual Studio Code, on the other hand, as a streamlined code editor, with just the tools needed for a quick code-build-debug cycle. The cross-platform editor complements a developer’s existing tool chain, and is leveraged for web and cloud applications.

But while Microsoft views the two tools as complementary, developers have been raising questions about redundancy for years. Responses to a query in Stack Overflow, made four years ago, sum up the differences this way: Visual Studio Code is “cross-platform,” “file oriented,” “extensible,” and “fast,” whereas Visual Studio is “full-featured,” “project and solution oriented,” “convenient,” and “not fast.”

Some pointed out that “not fast” is an understatement, and that Visual Studio is “quite heavy” in terms of CPU and memory requirements. Note too that a Visual Studio installation might be tens of gigabytes in size, while Visual Studio Code takes a few hundred megabytes.