Visual Studio Code - Lightweight IDE or UltraTextEditor?
May 09, 2019

Visual Studio Code - Lightweight IDE or UltraTextEditor?

Thomas Higgins | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Microsoft Visual Studio Code

I am using it primarily as a replacement for Powershell ISE before that goes end-of-life. I am also using it as a general purpose text editor for cross-platform documentation (mostly in .MD format). Across the company it is not officially being used, but many developers are using it as a replacement for Visual Studio or other development environments, strictly on a personal preference basis.
  • Wide array of powerful plugins.
  • Native integration with GIT repositories
  • Cross-Platform operations - I can use the same software with the same plugins on Linux, MAC, and Windows
  • Lots of documentation on how to setup a specific environment (e.g. Using VSCode to replace Powershell ISE)
  • Keymap support for most other editors - don't have to relearn the keyboard shortcuts anymore
  • Feels "heavy" compared to most other text editors (Notepad++, TextPad, etc.)
  • Many functions rely on extensions which are of varying quality
  • Large number of plugins means required for many workflows means it is slower to load and function
  • The biggest "ROI" has been in the GIT integration - instead of starting up GIT command line to commit files, it is just a part of the save process. (Saves time)
  • Using the Project Management plugin, I am able to switch between projects quickly without hassle and have all assets ready for access (Saves a LOT of time)
  • Using linter plugins, I have been able to quickly format code consistently without hassle. (Saves time, conforms to standards)
  • Notepad++
  • TextPad
  • Visual Studio IDE
  • Sublime Text
Visual Studio Code is more powerful than Notepad++ or TextPad, and much cheaper than Visual Studio IDE and Sublime Text. In addition, it is much more responsive than Visual Studio IDE. While Notepad++ and TextPad are both more responsive feeling than VSCode, they are far less capable and therefore not as useful. Sublime Text is probably equal to VSCode in most ways, but due to the free nature of the offering, there seems to be more documentation and plugin availability in VSCode.
Visual Studio Code is well suited to anyone who is looking to do coding or scripting in a variety of languages or just looking to get away from the heavyweight IDEs. It is as capable as Visual Studio, Eclipse, or others (with the right plugins) and yet is free of charge, cross platform, and relatively lightweight. Further it supports more languages as far as I am aware, and it seems to work equally well in any environment. Unlike a full IDE, it is lightweight enough to double as a full featured text editor, and even supports several text-based formats such as markdown and rich text format as well as plain text.

About the only situation where I would NOT recommend it is for a very basic end user who just wants a better plain text editor than notepad. In that case, I would point them towards a simpler solution that provides most/all of their needs out of the box instead of requiring plugins to complete.