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Cost: Free, Open Source

Developer: Microsoft

Platforms: Windows, Linux, OSX

One of the most important tools for any developer is their code editor. Choosing the right editor for the job will significantly increase productivity and performance.

For the purpose of this lab , we were instructed to select two editors and compare how their workflow, performance and extensibility matched up against one another. I had selected to experiment with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code and GitHub’s Atom Editor  by incorporating them into my every day workflow.

After struggling to get atom running smoothly on my system and just a few hours with VS Code, I was instantly hooked. VS Code is an extremely powerful open source text editor built by Microsoft. With its handy features and functionality, it’s almost hard to believe that it was only first released back in 2015.  VS Code Contribution Graph

Microsoft and the open source community has done a great job of creating a powerful and flexible cross-platform editor that’s rapidly gaining wide spread popularity.


One area that VS Code outperforms the competitors is with its natural design flow and clean interface.  If you’re making a quick edit or working on a large project, the explorer provides a great visualization of your project, side by side view, and document mini map. Also integrated is Git source control manager. The source control icon on the left will indicate the status of your repository (Ctrl + Shift + G) and provide you details about changes, staged changes, and merge changes.

One of my favourite features is the integrated terminal (Ctrl + ')VS Code Multiple TerminalsIt allows you to manage multiple terminals at once (Ctrl + Shift + '). For example, a local powershell window, alongside an npm terminal. This lets me switch system files while monitoring a local host server all within the same window.

Below are examples of basic functionalities in VS Code.
VS Code file tree
Opened project displaying folder structure, side by side view, document mini map, with an integrated terminal


VS Code Load Project Folder
Opening a project folder


VS Code format document
Formatting the current document


VS Code install extension
Searching and installing an extension


If you’re like me, you don’t want to be stuck waiting around for your editor to load. Before VS Code I would typically use Notepad++ for quick edits due it’s lightweight design. I found opening single files and projects with VS Code was almost instantaneous. Unlike Atom, which managed to slow down my system on every startup and sometimes crash.  One of the differences between Atom and VS Code is that the UI Editor is built on Monaco which has a big impact on speed and performance.


Microsoft has a wide variety of extensions in their Visual Studio Marketplace. Extensions can be installed to support almost every projects needs.

Some of the categories are:

  • Azure
  • Debuggers
  • Extension Packs
  • Formatters
  • Keymaps
  • Languages
  • Linters
  • SCM Providers
  • Snippets
  • Themes


Overall, Visual Studio Code is an extremely powerful lightweight editor with the characteristics of a full on IDE. If you’re looking for a new editor, I highly recommend testing out all the VS Code has to offer.

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