Visual Studio/Need and use

One generally needs to use an Integrated Development Environment to program applications for an environment, as that one contains the tools that you'll use for the same.

On Windows, there are a lot of development IDE's available for many purposes. Some are general, like Visual Studio, while others are better used for more specific needs. So why use Visual Studio?

  1. It's built for Windows and supports the latest tools.
  2. It has very powerful debugging tools to track down errors.
  3. It's free: the Community edition (available since 2015) has full feature-parity with the Professional edition; and it has 90% of the features of the Enterprise edition.
  4. It supports a wide variety of languages and suits for many use cases.

But it's not all glitter and gold:

  1. It consumes a lot of space. Depending on what you want, you may need anywhere from 5 GB to 80 GB!
  2. Being very powerful, its UI could be intimidating for new users. Such users may be better off downloading an older Express edition (more on that later)
  3. The Enterprise edition is very costly.

So assuming that you jump on the VS bandwagon, which edition do you get? It's actually easy; since the 2015 edition, VS has only three major editions:

  1. Community: The free version, this will likely meet the needs of the vast majority of today's developers. However, there is a catch; you cannot use this edition as part of a large company unless you are into open-source. Hobbyists and the wannabe developer shouldn't face any problems.
  2. Professional: It's just the Community version with the usage limitations removed.
  3. Enterprise: The most advanced version of VS, it includes virtually all features that a developer would ever need. Developers who buy this edition generally know what they are getting to.

Most of the Professional and Enterprise editions include MSDN. This's actually a big deal as it allows you to obtain many software licenses for free for development purposes. Check the Visual Studio website for more information.

For versions before 2013, the Community edition was precluded with the Express edition (from 2005). These editions are packaged per-language (before 2012) or per-usage (2012 and 2013; eg: Desktop, Store etc). However, unlike the Community edition, the Express editions are beset with significant feature limitations. However, they are also significantly easier to use, and you may prefer them when starting to the programming world.

The Premium version used to exist before the 2015 edition and was a cross-over between the Professional and Enterprise editions, but that is now discontinued.

So now that you want it, how do you get it? For the latest version, go to the Visual Studio website and download the installer you need. However, the 2017 installers onwards are highly customizable and hence deserving of its own section. We'll see this on the next section.