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Published 24th April 2016 by

Visual Studio Code is a free source code editor from Microsoft which aims to be fast. It was initially released a year ago as a beta but has just become a stable product, so let's have a look at what's on offer.

Surprisingly Visual Studio Code is a cross-platform editor - it works on Windows, Linux and Mac. Microsoft usually only release software for their Windows environments, with only a few being ported to Mac OSX, so is this a sign of changing times? Let's hope so. With the release of .Net Core, Microsoft is looking to enter into the open source Linux market dominated by PHP and Apache.

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

The lightweight nature of Visual Studio Code is obvious as soon as you start it. It would be hard to imagine a more basic screen than the initial view you'll have. Once you start entering some code, things will start to look more familiar with an explorer view down the left-hand side and IntelliSense support in the main window.

As a code editor, Visual Studio Code supports all the basics one would expect such as full syntax colouring and highlighting bracket matching and linting, plus keyboard bindings and snippets. It also provides built-in Github integration and IntelliSense support. It was also built to be fast.

Can we build a code editor fast enough that it doesn't feel like you're typing in a browser?

Visual Studio Code is also a community editor, with hundreds of extensions and plugins available for download on the extension gallery. There are extensions for Node.js, Go, C++, PHP, and Python, as well as many more languages, linters, and tools. Chances are if Code doesn't do something you need it to, there is a plugin for doing just that.

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

I actually quite like the editor, it's nice and easy to use as you'd expect. It has a lot of the features I'm used to from Visual Studio Professional, without a lot of the extra bloat that comes with it. At the moment I would have to say it's not particularly fast, at least not in my setup. Notepad++ and Notepadqq are still my de facto code editors, at least for the time being.

That being said, Visual Studio Code is not itself open source. Those of you who don't trust Microsoft and its proprietary apps should be aware of the fact that "When this tool crashes, we automatically collect crash dumps so we can figure out what went wrong. If you don't want to send your crash dumps to Microsoft, don't install this tool."

If you haven't tried out Visual Studio Code yet, please download it and let us know what you think!

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