Visual Studio Code vs. Visual Studio: How to choose

For decades, when I got to work in the morning, I would start Microsoft Visual (or one of its predecessors, such as Visual C++ or Visual InterDev), then brew tea and possibly attend a morning meeting while it went through its laborious startup. I would keep the IDE open all day as I went through develop/test/debug cycles to avoid another startup delay. When I worked on a C++ project with ~2 million lines of code, I also jump-started each day’s work by automatically running a batch script that did a code checkout and full rebuild of the product in the wee hours.

These days, I don’t feel the need to open my code projects first thing every morning, or to keep them open all day. Visual Studio Code usually starts up quickly enough that I can be productive in a few minutes, even for large projects. I said usually, not always: Visual Studio Code itself needs a monthly update, and the many extensions I have installed often need their own updates. Still, even updating a dozen extensions in Visual Studio Code takes much less time than Visual Studio takes to rebuild the symbol tables of a large C++ project.

What is Visual Studio Code?

Visual Studio Code is a lightweight but powerful source code editor that runs on your desktop and is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It comes with built-in for JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js and has a rich ecosystem of extensions for other languages (such as C++, C#, Java, Python, PHP, and Go) and runtimes (such as .Net and Unity).

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