Visual Studio Code or better known as VS Code is one of the best source code editors you can use today for your development. It is a very lightweight code editor used by many different programmers. There are a bunch of neat features that you can utilize.

  • IntelliSense
  • Debugging
  • Built-in Git
  • Extensions
  • Customization
  • Deployment

I like it very much because it is cross-platform. Meaning I can use it on Windows, Linux, and macOS. It combines the simplicity of an editor and provides powerful developer tools.

IntelliSense

IntelliSense is essentially autocompletion for your variable types, function definitions, and imported modules, and more! Why is IntelliSense so useful? Well, not every programmer remembers every native function calls that are specific to the language.

Think about how often you’re trying to remember, certain syntax about a language that you don’t work with too often. It’s hard to remember every single function or method that is native to your language that you are working with!

Here is where IntelliSense comes into play. It can complete most if not all of your language syntax for you. Visual Studio Code may not do this natively, but that just means you will need to install an extension for that language.

Debugging

With Visual Studio Code you can debug code right from the editor. Depending on the language, you will just need to configure the launch.json file.

Visual Studio Code’s built-in debugger helps accelerate your edit, compile and debug loop. There are a ton of debugger extensions that you can support. For example, you can download extensions like PHP, Ruby, GO, C#, Python, C++, etc. You can find them in the marketplace.

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To see the Debugging view, you will need to select the Debug icon in the activity bar on the left-hand side of the Visual Studio Code Editor.

To start debugging your app in VS Code, press F5 and VS Code will try to debug your current active file. If you do not have a launch.json file configured, it will ask you to create one now.

Built-In Git

You must install Git before you can use any of these features in the Visual Studio Code Editor.

In Visual Studio Code, working with Git is extremely easy. You can review diffs, stage files, and make commits right from the editor itself. It is potent if you don’t want to remember general git commands via command line. It can handle all the hard work for you!

Another great feature about the Visual Studio Code is your ability to create multiple terminal windows. You can use one terminal window to manage source control. I use the terminals to push my changes up to source control.

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Extensions

Extensions add so much more customization and flexibility. You can install extensions to add new language compilers, themes, debuggers, and to connect to services.

Extensions run in separate processes, ensuring they won’t slow down your editor. You can install new extensions right from the IDE by finding the extensions tab on the left-hand side.

It’s effortless to install extensions! You just find the extension you need, and you click the install button! There are extension packs as well, which primarily installs multiple extensions all at one time.

You can view installed extensions by going to the command palette and typing in the name of the extension. There are multiple commands that you can execute depending on which extension you have installed.

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Customization

Customization is one of the most significant features of the Visual Studio Code. You can customize anything from Icons to the view of the application itself. It allows you to change your theme, keyboard shortcuts, create snippets, and more.

I was using Atom Text Editor for the longest time before I discovered the Visual Studio Code Editor. While both have their pros and cons, I just felt more at home with Visual Studio Code. I come from a substantial Visual Studio background, so it was just ideal.

Deployment

Microsoft is pushing Azure, and with the integration via a plugin, you can deploy and host your applications in Azure. I will write an article in the future about Azure, but for now, let’s take a look at why this is amazing.

Once set up, you can deploy to Azure and integrate with any pipelines that you may need directly via the Visual Studio Code Editor. This makes application publishing a simple process. Instead of manually pushing to the server, you can just push your application to the cloud quickly with a click of a few buttons.

Final Thoughts

I think with the easy terminal integration with Visual Studio Code and increase of popularity; it will be an excellent replacement for IDEs such as Visual Studio, Eclipse, and PhPStorm. It has a lot of support from the community, and the best part is that it’s free!

There are no associated costs with using Visual Studio Code. It is remarkable for what it does, and with all the extension support, you could genuinely make it a unique experience for yourself.

I would like to see IntelliSense get better for various languages. It is not like it’s going to be the best at predicting what you are trying to do for every language, but with extension support, we could potentially get there!

About the Author

I am a software engineer by day, freelancer by night that has worked with new proprietary technology ever since high school. I love opening my mind to new languages and technologies. There are a million ways to do something, but finding the optimal solution is the best.

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