No matter the level of coding skill you possess, you need a code editor to make your web development work faster, better, and hassle-free. With the blessing of so many features like auto-completion, rich packages for different languages, and a system to customize the look and feel, developers today depend more on Visual Studio Code as a source code editor.

Being initially released in April 2015, VS Code has gone way beyond the all regular source code editors available today. It combines the simplicity of a source code editor with so powerful developer tooling, like IntelliSense code completion and debugging. 

Today, in this article, we will go into the details of the powerful features of VS Code and see what’s it brought in its latest update (v1.23). 

Powerful features of Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code has been so popular in just three years of its initial release. This cross-platform development tool focuses on core developer productivity with rich code editing and debugging experience. Let’s see what more Visual Studio Code has in it.

  1. Completely free and open source
  2. Easy to setup and use
  3. Very lightweight
  4. Works on all across the Operating Systems (macOS, Linux, and Windows)
  5. Package support for different languages
  6. Rich ecosystem of extensions
  7. Intelligent code completion
  8. Built-in Git support
  9. Live code sharing
  10. Debugging made simple

1. Lightweight

Visual Studio Code is a less than 100MB small download with a disk footprint of 200 MB. It is lightweight and should run on any type of today's hardware. Upon having a computer of 1.6 GHz or faster processor and 1GB of RAM, you can install VS Code in a matter of minutes and give it a try. 

2. Built-in packages

Visual Studio Code provides basic support for HTML, JavaScript, TypeScript and Node.js. The support includes syntax highlighting, smart completions with IntelliSense, customizable formatting and also a great Emmet support.

Check this Emmet cheat sheet for valid abbreviations.

3. Rich extensions

The rich extensions of Visual Studio Code empower you to add new languages, themes, debuggers, and to connect to additional services. Most importantly, the extensions in VS Code run in separate processes so that they won't slow down your editor. 

Each of the extensions in the list has a brief description including publisher’s information, download count and rating. You can go to the details by clicking on the extension item.

4. Intelligent code completion

IntelliSense allows you to code smartly with features like code completion, content assist, code hinting. VS Code IntelliSense comes for JavaScript, TypeScript, JSON, HTML, CSS, Less, and Sass. Completions for other programming languages can also be configured by installing language extensions on VS Code. You can customize your IntelliSense experience in settings and key bindings.

5. Available for all platforms (macOS, Linux, and Windows)

Visual Studio Code runs on all across the Operating Systems namely macOS, Linux, and Windows. No matter the platform you run your computer on, you can install VS Code easily and use it your way. 

6. Edit and build projects faster

VS Code is a lightning fast source code editor for you. With support for many languages, it helps you be productive with features like syntax highlighting, bracket-matching, auto-indentation, box-selection, snippets, and many more. 

7. Built-in version control support

Working with Git and other source code management (SCM) providers has been made easier with VS Code. You can review diffs, stage files, and make commits right from the editor. Pushing and pulling from any hosted SCM service has also been made simple.

If you are bringing any change to a Git repository, Visual Studio Code will show color indicators in the code editor gutter, indicating the places you have made the modifications on.

8. Debugging

Visual Studio Code offers an outstanding debugging experience for you. With VS Code, you can debug code right from the editor. It includes an interactive debugger for you to step through your source code, inspect declared variables, view call stacks, and also execute commands in the console.

9. Real-time collaboration

Visual Studio Live Share enables real-time collaborative editing and debugging from the comfort of your favorite tools. It isn't limited to just a particular programming language or app type. To empower diverse and polyglot developer community, Live Share is available for all the languages and platforms.

In order to balance between simplicity and security, Live Share provides two major capabilities:

  1. Each guest is required to be explicitly approved by you before joining your collaboration session.
  2. A system for you to exclude files from sharing session so that guests can only view what you permit them to.

10. Interactive editor playground

VS Code is packed with amazing functionalities and altogether they make it an interactive source code editing playground for you. Let’s see some of them in more details.

  1. Multi-cursor editing - block selection, select all occurrences, add additional cursors and more.
  2. IntelliSense - get code assistance and parameter suggestions for your code and external modules.
  3. Line actions - quickly move lines around to re-order your code.
  4. Rename refactoring - quickly rename symbols across your code base.
  5. Refactoring via extraction - quickly extract common code into a separate function or constant.
  6. Formatting - keep your code looking great with inbuilt document & selection formatting.
  7. Code folding - focus on the most relevant parts of your code by folding other areas.
  8. Errors and warnings - see errors and warning as you type.
  9. Snippets - spend less time typing with snippets.
  10. Emmet - integrated Emmet support takes HTML and CSS editing to the next level.
  11. JavaScript type checking - perform type checking on your JavaScript file using TypeScript with zero configuration.

What’s new in Visual Studio Code's latest version (V-1.23)?

The latest version (1.23) of  Visual Studio Code has been released in April 2018. There are a lot of updates in this version for you to enjoy. Some of the key ones are given below.

  1. Indent guides are highlighted - Helps coder visualize source code indenting.
  2. Run Code Actions on save - Run actions like Organize and Imports when you save the changes.
  3. NPM script explorer - Quickly and easily find, run, and debug NPM scripts in your project.
  4. Problems view filtering - Choose which files will display errors and warnings.
  5. CSS region folding - Create regions in your CSS/SCSS/Less code for helpful code folding.
  6. CSS new property support has been improved - Smart suggestions for CSS experimental properties.
  7. Markdown header search - Search for Markdown headers across your entire workspace.
  8. Custom activity bar views - Allow extension authors to create their own Activity Bar items.

Visual Studio Code has been so popular among the developers for its features. In just three years of its release, VS Code has gone way beyond the imagination surpassing many source code editors that are available for a longer period of time. Each time a new version is released, VS Code gets unprecedented features. So appeal to VS Code is always on rise. 

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