Visual Studio vs Visual Studio Code?

Started by MaxMaxfield 1 year ago4 replieslatest reply 1 year ago179 views

I'm confused. I read that Visual Studio (VS is an IDE. I also read that Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a source code editor (is this the editor used in VS?)

But then I read the VS Code is a standalone editor.

And then someone told me that VS Code is both an editor and an IDE because you can use its extensions capability to access other tools.

My head hurts. Is VS Code an IDE?

Thanks in advance -- Max

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Reply by tsautomationMay 19, 2023

Especially for embedded developers, Visual Studio Code provides lots of tools, compilers, debuggers through its extension system. There is an extension called platform.io which makes it similar to the Arduino environment, Espressif ESP development for the ESP ecosystem, OpenOCD debugging (set breakpoints in the editor, step through code, watch lists), IAR integration and so on. These tools integrate command line tools so, that they appear to be as part of the IDE. The extension system adds these tools automatically by installing the extension (easy to use in most cases), but you can also use the command line installation and add the extension in VSC later (e.g. Espressif ESP development). VSC is relatively small in size. You will find a lot of resources to add VSC to an embedded toolchain. So you can view VSC as an IDE, out of the box though it is a (good) code editor, which provides syntax highlighting for a multitude of languages.

Visual Studio IMHO targets more desktop development (.NET, C++, in fact all Microsoft products). Its installer is large, great for desktop development using different programming languages, provides lots of tools. VS is not well supported for embedded development, mainly because VS is a paid product (There is a community edition though).

VSC is multiplatform (Win, Mac, Linux), while VS is Win or Mac only. My assumption is, that VSC is Microsofts take on the embedded market. 

I used VSC code to replace Eclipse, which has similar capabilities as VSC. 

Hope that helps a bit.


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Reply by MaxMaxfieldMay 19, 2023

That really helps -- Thanks Thomas

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Reply by beningjwMay 19, 2023

The difference can definitely be confusing. I would view Visual Studio Code as a text editor that can achieve IDE like features through its extension system. 

An IDE typically has tools like a compiler, graphical designers, debuggers, code completion, etc. Visual Studio definitely has all these packages into it.

Visual Studio Code can have these capabilities by adding specific extensions to it. 

Part of the power of VS Code is that it comes with a baseline of tools and then developers can customize it for their own needs and preferences. 

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Reply by MaxMaxfieldMay 19, 2023

Thanks Jacob -- I was actually going to call you about this, but I know how busy you are so I thought I'd post the question here -- and lo and behold, you responded LOL