Visual Studio Code

Get started by visiting Visual Studio Code - Code Editing. Redefined and downloading it for your platform, whether that be Windows, Mac or Linux. You can get "Insiders" builds as well as stable ones, I would recommend stable.

Also known as VS Code and built on Electron | Build cross platform desktop apps with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS., like Atom it is fast becoming a popular editor. It works well with Git, out of the box and is great for working with Python and PowerShell.

It is worth reading Visual Studio Code Updated as this contains a lot of very useful information!

Why Visual Studio Code?
Visual Studio Code - Code Editing. Redefined
Microsoft/vscode-tips-and-tricks: Collection of helpful tips and tricks for VS Code.

Another useful site is VS Code Can Do That? which has some useful tips and videos on.

Not forgetting 10 Visual Studio Code Shortcuts You Should Know which is well worth looking at.

Suggested Settings

I like setting "Text Editor -> Minimap -> Size" to "fit", as this shows the whole file if big but does not stretch small files.

Key Bindings

When using any editor it is always beneficial to learn the shortcut key strokes, so be sure to read Visual Studio Code Key Bindings for the common key bindings and the OS specific ones, you'll need to scroll down for these.

I have also found myself trying to assign a keybinding to make life easier. At present I believe you need to assign what you want and then right-click and select "Show Same Keybindings" to see if it is already used, a little trial and error allowed me to find something that was free.


When working with Markdown it is handy to have the output preview, in side-by-side mode. The easy way to get this is to open the Command Palette via the keyboard shortcut or off the View menu. Then type "Markdown" and you will see all the options. See Markdown editing with Visual Studio Code for more details.

Version Control

On a clean machine, after installing VS Code you probably want to connect to a Git repository and clone it to your local machine, possibly switching branches as well. In which case read Version Control in VS Code for how to do this. It is all quite easy and you do not need the command line.

The quick summary is you do the following:

  • Start VS Code
  • Load the "Command Palette" from the View menu
  • Start typing "git" and click "Git: Clone"
  • You will be prompted to enter the following: Repository URL, Parent Directory, Username, Password
  • When "Open Cloned Repository" shows, click "Open"
  • If you need to change branches then select "Git: Checkout to..." from the Command Palette
  • You will see a list of branches, so select the one you want

That should be enough to get you started and everything else in the the VS Code documentation.


You can download and install extensions and extensions packs from Extensions for Visual Studio family of products | Visual Studio Marketplace which a "pack" is a collection of extensions that are known to go well together. VS Code will recommend extensions to you based on the files you use, however it is not clever enough to know your .sql file is MySQL and not Microsoft SQL Server, but it is a handy start. I have installed and used the following:

Clearly there are lots more but there have proved handy for me.

Of course there are many more and also many people giving you lists of their favourites, these are often good places to look, so for example 21 VS Code Extensions To Boost Your Productivity - DEV Community has some interesting ones.

Java Extensions

The first/original Java Extension, is the Microsoft Java Extension Pack - Visual Studio Marketplace, which uses the "Language Support for Java by Red Hat". In late 2023 Oracle released Java Platform Support - Visual Studio Marketplace, which is nicely introduced at Another VS Code Extension For Java ? - YouTube.

Spring users, would be well advised to look at Spring Boot Extension Pack - Visual Studio Marketplace.