What is Visual Studio?


Visual Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE). It's popular for .NET and C++ workloads and many other languages and frameworks. It also has a massive ecosystem of extensions, because Visual Studio has been around for more than 20 years.

Screenshot of Visual Studio debugging a webapp called my first website

How to choose between Visual Studio or VS Code?

Visual Studio VS Code
Developed over the past 25 years First released in 2015
Full-featured (major language support, debugging, editing, and test features are built in) Lightweight (acquiring extensions to support different languages and platforms is up to the user)
Closed source (with some open-source components) Open source
Free for students, open-source contributors, and individuals Free for everyone
Marketplace for both paid and free extensions Thriving extension development ecosystem with both OSS and closed-source extensions

To address the most popular question these days: what's the difference between Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code? Visual Studio Code is a wildly popular lightweight source-code editor that was first released in 2015. It's a part of the Visual Studio editor family. Visual Studio is the fully integrated development environment with world class editor and debugger. VS Code is open source and free to use. Visual Studio is not open source, but the Community edition is free for students, open-source contributors, and individuals. VS Code allows amazing rapid open-source development of its extensions. In VS Code, you manage most of the extensions that provide build tools and language support to your editor. In Visual Studio, much more is built in for a more focused and curated experience.

Screenshot of Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code while both IDEs are debugging the same webapp called my first website.

Millions of developers all over the world have logged a significant number of hours in Visual Studio, so over the years, a lot has gone in to making it nice. Imagine working in the same office for years for 40 hours a week. You end up sprucing up the place little by little to make you the most productive. All the features may be a little overwhelming to new users, but hopefully after this learning path, you’ll feel a little more at home.

So with that, Visual Studio is one of the most popular editing environments. A third-party survey recorded it as the second most popular editor, with Visual Studio Code earning the #1 spot. Both are great tools and have different advantages to each. The rest of this module will be diving into more of the functionality of Visual Studio.

Download Visual Studio as you complete this module so you can start coding.