Get started programming with Visual Studio on Windows

What is Visual Studio

Visual Studio is an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) developed by Microsoft for Windows and macOS. This IDE is designed to allow us to program in a large number of programming languages, including:

  • C, C ++
  • C #
  • Visual Basic .NET
  • F#
  • Java
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PHP
  • Django

But, in addition to being compatible with all these languages, it is also specialized in taking advantage of all the capabilities of Microsoft, both in Windows (being prepared to take advantage of all the APIs and all the operating system libraries) and to exploit all the possibilities of the Azure cloud. It also allows us to create websites and web applications, as well as all kinds of services within the .NET platform.

The main features that we can highlight of this programming IDE are:

  • Syntax highlighting: highlights the functions and all elements of the code to make it easier to read and understand how they work.
  • Underlined– Automatically detect and flag any potential code errors or problems. And, thanks to their quick actions, gives us recommendations to solve these errors.
  • Code cleanup: with one click we can format the code and apply all kinds of corrections suggested by the IDE.
  • Refactoring: this function allows us to automate the task of intelligent change of variables, extraction of lines of code and more.
  • IntelliSense: allows us to see real-time information about our code and, in addition, fill in functions and small code fragments.
  • Search: makes it easy to find what we want in the properties, options and menus.
  • Live Share– Edit and debug code with other colleagues in real time regardless of the type of application or language used.
  • Call hierarchy– Shows the methods that call a selected method.
  • CodeLens– Helps find code references, code changes, and linked errors.
  • Go to definition: allows us to go directly to the location where a function or type is defined
  • See the definition: browse definitions.

Differences between versions

Visual Studio has three different editions, so that we can choose the one that best suits our needs. The first one is the edition Community. This edition is totally free for all users, with the limitation that it can only be used on a personal level, for educational purposes and in non-business organizations. It also lacks some functions like live dependency validation, architectural layer diagrams, architecture validation, code clone, and some functions, like CodeLens, are biased. It also lacks IntelliTrace, Code Map Debugger Integration, .NET Memory Dump Analysis, Dynamic Unit Testing, IntelliTest, Microsoft Fakes, Code Coverage, Inline Assemblies, Xamarin Inspector, and Xamarin Profiler.

Second, we have the Professional edition. This edition has a cost of 45 dollars per month and has, in addition to Azure DevOps (basic plan), licensed for business use, and the same limitations as the Community edition. It is suitable for small to medium-sized organizations with about 5 users.

Finally, we have the edit Enterprise. This is the most complete of all, it has all the unlocked functions that we cannot find in the Community and Professional editions, and it has Azure DevOps (basic plan + Trial plan). Its price, yes, is 250 dollars a month. Recommended for large companies with more than 500 employees.

The “Visual Studio” brand has always been synonymous with something professional, paid and very, very closed. But the mindset at Microsoft is changing. And, in addition to the previous editions, we can also find a similar program, known as Visual Studio Code, which allows us to use an OpenSource code editor, with some advanced IDE functions, so that we can edit and debug code on any operating system. .

Download and install

As we have explained, the Community edition is completely free for all users. To download it, we simply have to access this link and, in the “Visual Studio” section, choose the edition we want to download.

We will download a file from the Microsoft website that will occupy little more than 1 MB. This file does not include the IDE, but will be responsible for downloading the latest version available from the company’s servers. We execute the file and we will be able to see a first step of the wizard, where it will indicate that we have to accept the license terms and choose some of the installation options.

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The program will take care of downloading and installing the installer (forgive the redundancy).

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When it’s over, we can see the wizard. In it we will be able to choose the components that we want to install, the language and the path of the hard disk where we are going to place the IDE.

The Visual Studio base space is about 800MB, although this may increase depending on the additional components that we install. We must select at least one workload in order to take advantage of the potential of this Visual Studio. As we can see, after a couple of workloads that we mark the space has increased from 800 MB to more than 18 GB.

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We click on “Install” and the download of all the necessary components and their corresponding installation will begin. We must wait for the process to finish before we can start using the IDE.

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Install additional workloads and dependencies

It may be that, as time passes, we need to make use of other workloads or some libraries or dependencies that, in their day, we did not install by default. Luckily, it is not necessary to download and install the complete IDE again, but within the program we can find the installer itself that will allow us to add (or remove, if we no longer need it) everything we want.

We can get to it from the “create a project” section. Below all the options that we have installed we can find the option «Install more tools and features«.

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By clicking on this button we can see the installer again, from where we can select all the elements that we want to install or uninstall.

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After doing so, we only have to click on the “Modify” button (the one that was previously installed) and that’s it. When it’s done, the new workloads are ready to go.

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