Why do you need Visual Studio alternatives? 

Visual Studio is, without a doubt, one of the most used and most famous integrated development environments in the known universe. Full set of tools for all the stages of developing apps: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Cloud – you name it – Visual Studio can do it. But being the most famous doesn’t necessarily mean, that it fits your needs.  That is why sometimes you need Visual Studio alternatives.

Despite being a multi-billion dollar company and striving for perfection, Microsoft is not even close to creating a perfect product. Each of their products, including Visual Studio, is full of little and big imperfections, bugs, and pet peeves one can find. Visual Studio’s biggest problems are:

  • It is a behemoth of a program. Very large, it occupies quite a lot of the disk’s space, while also rendering the system slower, if your computer is not a powerful one.
  • If you are new to the process of writing codes, it can be a real pickle to navigate in search of necessary options and features. Also, the learning curve of Visual Studio is, for the lack of better words, daunting, compared to other IDEs.
  • There is no option of auto-saving, so you can lose all of your progress in a moment if anything goes not according to the plan.
  • The command-line interface can be irresponsive at times.
  • The integration with DevOps, such as GIT requires improvement.
  • As it was already said, Visual Studio is a behemoth and its price only confirms this assessment.

And, not including all the upper-mentioned facts, coding is like art and you need a workplace, that suits you, to make a masterpiece. Let’s look at some Visual Studio alternatives, their pros, and cons, why shouldn’t we?

IDE vs. Code Editor

Before we get down to business, we should also discuss the difference between IDE and code editor

If we were to put it simply, IDE is a set of tools that all work together: text editor, compiler, build or make integration, debugging, etc. Typically, IDE is tied down to one coding language/framework.

On the other hand, we have code editors, tools, that are implied to do just that – edit codes. The main advantage of code editors is the fact, that they, unlike typical IDEs, can be used to work with any coding language or framework of your liking.

The main idea of the trading high functionality of IDE for code editor is the fact, that you wouldn’t have to get used to a new language or a set of tools if you switch from one IDE to another, which is quite inevitable. And, vice versa, you sacrifice the simple workflow you get accustomed to using the code editor for the vast function and productivity you gain using an IDE. But the bottom line is a simple truth, that an IDE has all the features of a code editor, but a code editor won’t provide you with the full toolset of an IDE.

Open-source IDE software

IntelliJ IDEA

Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.jetbrains.com/idea/


IntelliJ IDEA, unlike all the previously mentioned IDEs, is not free, which is a con. But on the other hand, you get a rich toolset for software development. Packed to the brim with integrated tools, that help your software development process to be more efficient, productive, and precise. And it should also be mentioned, that IntelliJ IDEA streamlines both clients and server sides scripting, which is quite useful. So this is one of the best Visual Studio alternatives on the market.


 Eclipse Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.eclipse.org/downloads/download.php


An IDE aimed at Java development. One of its main benefits is, no doubt compatibility with many languages: C, ABAP, Haskell, C#, C++, Ada, Lasso, JavaScript, Python, and many many more. It is free; compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows devices; includes full-featured and powerful Java IDE. The system is extensible and a central workspace allows for high adaptability. And though it is most fitting for Java applications it can be implied to make different language solutions.

Xcode IDE

Xcode IDE Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.cultofmac.com/703527/xcode-ipad-iphone-ios-ipados-14-rumor/


Apple devices-oriented IDE, that is, surprisingly for such things, free of charge. The interface is quite assistive, helpful, and intuitive, which is nice at the beginning of usage. During your coding process, Xcode IDE automatically provides you with suiting resources for your particular coding process, while it does not interrupt the actual development. The navigation is smooth due to The Assistant Editor and The Jump Bar. Different preinstalled and customizable working schemes at your disposal and application testing no matter the device targeted.


NetBeans Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://netbeans.org/features/java/editor.html#


IDE, which is free and Java-based, NetBeans runs on a modular architecture. The best things about this IDE are the vast toolset and a powerful code editor and the usage easiness. And, also, it only supports desktop usage, unlike other IDEs, it deserves a try.


OutSystems Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.outsystems.com/downloads/#&gid=null&pid=1


Let’s be straight: this one is quite costly, but it’s worth it, as OutSystems provide you with stable functionalities, mobile support, and the ability to customize. It is powerful and in the right hands, it will help you to build, develop and tailor apps to run on any device and apply to any business needs.


Code::Blocks Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.kdevelop.org/sites/www.kdevelop.org/files/photos/kdevelop.png


Back to the free stuff (we know you like it). Code::Blocks is an open-source IDE with free IDE solutions turned up to the max. The toolset is also quite extensible. But the thing to write home about is Code::Blocks debug framework, which includes custom memory dumps, code, and info breakpoints, disassembly lists, and many other useful features.


CLion Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.jetbrains.com/clion/


Smart, multilanguage, easy navigation, and project startup are the words to describe CLion. This IDE provides instant analysis and detects possible errors in the process. It also has the Run & Debug tool to leave zero to no chances of making a mistake. A personalized editor lets you customize the interface to your tastes. But wait, there is more: IntelliJ Platform extension to further tailor your workplace and provide you with additional support, integrations, and frameworks. What’s not to like?

AWS Cloud9

AWS Cloud9 Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://aws.amazon.com/ru/cloud9/#


This IDE runs on a cloud-based platform, which means that it is not only compatible with many programming languages, it also allows online collaboration for code-building, encouraging you to have your development environment flexible and efficient. Besides all the upper-mentioned facts, its web-based nature defines the existence of such built-in features as a code editor, debugger, and possibility of adding input commands and supporting software, that is real time savers.


Rider Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.jetbrains.com/rider/#


Rider may be a new .NET IDE and it may be based on the IntelliJ platform, but it has already found quite many fans due to its good searching and navigation facilities make it easier to understand unfamiliar code, ability to run on multiple platforms including Windows 10, Linux distros and macOS and the inclusion of all the coolest ReSharper features. Its performance on low-end machines may be slower and sometimes it feels like C# support could be a bit better, but non the less this one deserves at least a try.

Oracle JDeveloper

Oracle JDeveloper Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://docs.oracle.com/middleware/12211/jdev/user-guide/


If your goal is to build a state-of-the-art app on a tight budget – Oracle JDeveloper is the IDE for you, as it provides you with a seamless and simple Java-based app-building process completely free of charge. Furthermore, it is applicable for the app’s full lifecycle management, from building to testing and deployment. And you can compare current and previous iterations of your apps in the built-in version manager, which also proves helpful from time to time.


BlueJ Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://bluej.org/


This one might be a little bit of a pickle for big scale development. But on the other hand, it might be just the best one for development on a small scale. Good for those who only just begin their way, this Java development environment is user-friendly and interactive. But don’t rush to write it off. One can also use BlueJ for interactive creation and invocation of objects.


Arduino Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.radishlogic.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/


We are ending this list on another open-source IDE. Arduino allows you to both write and upload code to a working environment here and now. Its main benefit, though, is its ability to function as an on-premise application and as an online editor, direct sketching, board module options, and integrated libraries. You can also expect such system features as board module options, direct sketching, project documentation, external hardware support, and sketch sharing.

Paid Code Editors

Sublime Text 3

Sublime Text 3 Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.sublimetext.com/3


This one is what you’d call a game-changer. An open, lightweight, and, most importantly, exceptionally responsive code editor that is ready to edit as soon as you open it. Another point worth making about this editor is the excessive and ever-growing number of available plugins that allow you to customize your Git plugins, color pickers, and the overall outlook of the program. Sublime Text 3 is free of charge if you are ready to deal with quite nagging pop-ups reminding you to buy it. And, on one hand, the full price of the license is only 80$, but on the other, you can find some competitive products that are completely free.


Codespaces Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://github.com/features/codespaces


Yes, we know that Codespaces was developed by Microsoft. Yes, we are also aware that earlier we’ve discussed the shortcomings of Microsoft’s products, but hear us out. Codespaces are new and untested, so there is a possibility of large and meaningful improvements. But, more importantly, this code editor is cloud-based, which means extended collaboration possibilities and the possibility of working from anywhere.

Codespaces also functions offline, which is a nice touch for a browser-based code editor. It has Git repos support, a built-in editable command-line interface to edit, run and debug your apps from any device, and that’s not mentioning some extensions. For additional synergy, Codespaces launches straight from GitHub. And let’s put the final nail in the coffin and rest this case: even though Microsoft plans to introduce pay-as-you-go prices for Codespaces, for now, it is very much free.


Atom Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://atom.io/


Let’s move on from a Microsoft-developed code editor to one, that was developed by GitHub, which is own by our friendly-neighborhood multinational tech corporation – Atom. Heavily influenced by funky new stylings of Sublime Text in its infancy, Atom is quick and reliable. But there are a couple of important differences between the two: Atom, unlike Sublime Text, is open source, does not burden you with any payments, and is integrated with Git and GitHub (would be strange otherwise, wouldn’t it?). But as every rose has its thorns, Atom has a history of performance and stability issues, that has, thankfully, had a significant diminish over the process of its maturing. And it does launch at an insignificantly slower pace than other code editors, but what is a couple of seconds in the grander scheme, if they provide reliability and usage quickness.


Brackets Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: http://brackets.io/


With our next entree, we break free from Microsoft’s products only to stumble into another corporation’s creation. Nothing to complain about here – corporations know a thing or two (or a couple of dozens) about making usable products. This time it’s Brackets from Adobe. An open-source and quite well-rounded code editor that unfortunately is not divided of shortcomings: Brackets supports fewer languages for syntax highlighting than its competitors. But what it does support is CSS preprocessors like Less and Sass, because of its primary focus on front-end technologies. In addition to preprocessors, there is a feature you can find useful when editing CSS: you can hotkey small sections of an HTML page to pop out to then edit the CSS rules that are affecting the selected elements. So, less time to waste on searching around the code to fix styling problems.

But let’s get back to other notable downsides of this code editor: speed and reliability, that are not as high as it could have been. But on the other hand, Brackets has several unique features to investigate that are mostly configurable via the menus, unlike most of the other editors. Despite all these downsides, Brackets is one of the best Visual Studio alternatives for now.


Vim Visual Studio Alternatives
Image source: https://www.vim.org/


And, the last in line but not the last in importance and interest arousing code editor, Vim. Vim is what you call a disputable entrée. Strictly speaking, this code editor is a command-line software, that is natively included in Linux OS and macOS, with the availability to be downloaded and used on Windows.

Vim is navigated entirely by keyboard, which can improve the speed and efficiency of its usage, but only if you are ready to learn how to operate. Customizable to a much higher degree than its competitors, Vim allows you to create customized commands, that would fit your workflow. But bear in mind, that due to the lack of any UI, the learning curve is very steep. Although, if you are insistent and persistent, you can get an incredibly stable and fast code editor, that would, no doubt, boost your productivity and grant you magic powers (note: the last point has not been confirmed in any observable history).

What Visual Studio alternatives are the best?

To conclude this article with a definitive answer to the question “What are the best Visual Studio alternatives?” would be practically impossible. We could only advise you to pay your closest attention to such IDEs and code editors as IntelliJ IDEA, CLion, Atom, and Brackets. But this list is, most definitely, highly subjective and has, most certainly, missed a couple of noteworthy IDEs. But that is what it is all about – experimenting, trying something new and unknown.

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