What is VS Code? Introduction and How to Get Started

What is VS Code? Introduction and How to Get Started

On your Web Development journey, you will surely come across VS Code. What is VS Code? What does it do? Can I use it for Web Development? Is it difficult to use? Don’t worry. You will find that VS Code is surprisingly easy to understand. And it will help you a lot on your Web Development journey.

Eager to know more about VS Code? Let’s have a deeper look at what VS Code is, where it is being used, and how you can use it to create banger websites as an upcoming Web Developer.

What is VS Code?

Let’s start with the basics. What is VS Code? VS Code (also known as Visual Studio Code) is used to well, write code! Pretty simple, no? And yes, you can use it to write code for your very own website! Once you start making websites, you will be using VS Code all the time, from creating basic webpages to making full-featured websites.

VS Code supports many programming languages and supports a ton of frameworks. This means you can use VS Code to write code in HTML, JavaScript, or any other framework you choose.

Like VS Code, there are other text editors (or source code editors). You might have heard about Sublime Text and Atom. But VS Code is still the best text editor out of the three. This is primarily due to VS Code being completely free (unlike Sublime Text) and having regular updates (unlike Atom).

VS Code: Different Versions

VS Code is one of the many variants of Visual Studio and represents the cross-platform editor of Visual Studio. This is what most folks are referring to when mentioning VS Code. Among the variations available on the official website are Visual Studio Community, Professional, and Enterprise editions. Each version is targeted toward a different audience.

So, which one should you choose? Well, it entirely depends on what type of project you will do.

  • Beginner friendly, free, and simple? Choose Community
  • Small-scale business? Choose VS Professional.
  • Large-scale enterprise? Choose VS Enterprise.

If you’re just getting started with web development, free is best. The last thing you want to do as a beginner is pay for another tool. Visual Studio Community is the way to go. It is simple, free, beginner-friendly, and easy to understand.

Getting Started

Now that you have a general idea about VS Code let’s see how you can install it on your PC.

  • Head over to the Visual Studio Code Download Page.
  • Choose the correct variant of VS Code depending on your PC’s operating system (Windows, Linux, or Mac).
  • Your browser will start downloading the VS Code setup.
  • After the download has finished, launch the VS Code setup.
  • When prompted, accept the license agreement, and proceed.
  • Now, you will see some checkboxes with descriptions. Here’s what they mean:
    • Create a desktop icon – Should VS Code’s shortcut appear on your Desktop?
    • Add “Open with Code” action to Windows Explorer file context menu – Should “Open with Code” show up in the context menu when you right-click on a file?
    • Add “Open with Code” action to Windows Explorer directory context menu – Should “Open with Code” show up in the context menu when you right-click inside a folder?
    • Register Code as an editor for supported file types – Should all files supported by VS Code open with VS Code by default?
    • Add to PATH – Should VS Code be added to the environment variables?
  • If you need help deciding which option to choose, just leave the options as is and proceed.
  • Click on “Install.”

And that completes the installation. Piece of cake, right?

vs code getting started
VS Code Getting Started

What is VS Code Used For?

Now that you know what VS Code is let’s see how it can help you.

VS Code in Web Development:

Regarding Web Development, VS Code offers a wide range of features. Thus, giving you a boost in productivity, as well as allowing you to maintain consistent progress.

VS Code supports multiple languages. It allows you to seamlessly switch between different languages, be it HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or Python. You might opt for a framework, but don’t worry. VS Code supports most (if not all) of the frameworks. With extensions, it provides added features for Angular, jQuery, Bootstrap, Backbone.js, or Express. VS Code supports it. On top of it all, it offers helpful code completion and expressive syntax highlighting.

Package Managers. You will be using those all the time in your projects. Want to add utilities to your project? Use NPM. Need .NET libraries? Use NuGet or Library Manager (Libman). And that’s where VS Code shines. You can use any package manager of your choice. And that too without worrying about any conflicts between the package managers.

Other Use-Cases:

Windows – Create Universal Apps using C#, Visual Basic, C++, or JavaScript. Deploy your app to any Windows-supported device. Use cutting-edge graphics platforms to create high-performance games and visualizations. Develop stunning apps using WPF and .NET. Collaborate with your team with Azure DevOps.

Mobile – Create native apps with stunning UI/UX. Deploy to Android, iOS, and Windows with Xamarin .NET. Build, test, and deploy your applications within minutes. Create engaging games for Android and iOS using Unity and Unreal Engine. Create native, high-performance apps with C++ for specific use cases.

Database – Load an existing project or start from scratch. Develop, build, and test your database as you would do with any application. Design tables with the help of visual tools and let VS Code handle the code instead. Access, view, and edit your database without writing additional scripts.

VS Code: Features

We have now discussed what VS Code is and what it does. But what makes VS Code so unique? What sets it apart from other editors like Sublime Text or Atom? Let’s have a look.

IntelliSense

What is IntelliSense? It is a broad term for a group of code editing features. These features include code completion, parameter info, quick info, and member lists.

A code written of good quality is beneficial in the long run. It is easy to understand, maintain and debug. Hence, it is good to have someone keeping tabs on your code. That’s where IntelliSense comes in. IntelliSense will help you whenever you write code. Ready to provide you with intelligent auto completions and syntax highlighting.

What makes the IntelliSense of this app different from others? Well, it all boils down to how “intelligent” IntelliSense is. The IntelliSense in VS Code predicts what code should be written next and provides appropriate code completions. It also highlights any unused elements in your code for taking appropriate action.

VS Code intellisense
VS Code Intellisense in action

Plenty of Extensions

One of the best features of VS Code is that it is highly customizable. And that is no different in terms of functionality. With extensions, we can add new functionality to this app. Such as adding support for a specific framework, switching to a more aesthetic theme, or just quality of life improvements.

Other than that, you can create your extensions too. Use them to enhance your experience and share them with developers worldwide.

Multiple languages and framework support

VS Code supports a wide range of languages and frameworks. To get a general idea, here are some of the languages VS Code supports out of the box:

C# C++ CSS Dockerfile Dart F# Go HTML JavaScript Java Julia JSON Less Markdown PHP Python R Rust SCSS T-SQL TypeScript.

vs code extensions
VS Code Extension Marketplace

Need help finding the best language? Check out the VS Code Extension marketplace. Chances are there is already an extension for your language there.

Other than that, VS Code has official extensions for many of the most popular frameworks. Some of these are:

Angular React Flutter Vue.js Ruby on Rails node.js

Built-In Debugger

VS Code comes with debugger support. That means you can debug your projects right from the comfort of your editor. Set breakpoints, analyze call stacks, and step into and over the code. VS Code makes it extremely easy to set up a debugger. Alongside its intuitive UI, which makes the debugging process less of a hassle.

Debugger
Built-in debugging

Built-In Source Control

VS Code also supports Git out of the box. With Git built-in, the whole process of source control is much smoother and more streamlined. Push, pull, and commit right from the comforts of this app. Besides, You can quickly review every change since the last commit at any time.

source control
source control in action

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

In this article, we discussed what VS Code is, what it does and what it offers.

As you continue your journey of Web Development, you will realize just how important a good source code editor can be. Not only can it increase your productivity but helps you in writing clean and efficient code.

Among many text editors and IDEs, VS Code stands out. Loved by many, it is beginner friendly, flexible, and can be tailored easily to our needs. IntelliSense, loads of extensions, debugger support, and source control, are some features that make this app so popular. It supports many languages and frameworks, with the option to enhance the support with extensions.

VS Code can be any developer’s most powerful tool if used to its full strength, but the journey to mastery starts with the first step. If you have any questions about getting started, please leave a comment below. Let me know your favorite VS Code features and if you love it or hate it!

Tyler Von Harz

I am a computer and software nerd. I love working on new projects that involve taking something apart, troubleshooting, coding, writing, or developing. I started my journey down this path as a kid and opened my first computer repair shop at 18. I also own and operate a web development agency and a Youtube channel for coding.

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