The main reason would be the rich ecosystem of extensions offered by Microsoft. These improve and enhance coders’ experience significantly. Even elite software engineers use Visual Studio in their live demos and speeches. Unsurprisingly, VS code also works well for Java. Eclipse, or android studio (for android app) has always been the first preference. (Of almost every Java developer).
But now that Java has become a very popular language. And thousands of developers are working on it, there are ample IDEs offering Java support. As a result, we’ve received a wide variety of IDEs to choose from. Since I already had experience working with VS Code, I tried it out. Believe it or not, it became the perfect choice for Java development! As a result, I joined the many Java coders who have now switched to VS Code.
The installation setup (with its many extensions), can be overwhelming. Taking this into account, Microsoft has simplified installation and setup for developers. In the new release, there is dedicated support to set up Visual Studio Code via the new Java Pack Installer.
The installer automatically detects if the:
- JDK (Java Development Kit),
- Visual Studio Code, and
- Required extensions
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Are already installed. If not, the installer downloads and configures any missing software dependencies. It also offers a feature which adds Java-related components to an existing Visual Studio Code installation.
Like Eclipse and IntelliJ, VS code also offers Call Hierarchy functionality. This was introduced last year in the Visual Studio Code editor.
Java coders also discovered ease and improved coding experience with useful UI features. For example:
- In file explorer, a single child folder is compressed in a combined tree element. This becomes very useful for accessing Java package structures.
- Problems can be filtered by type. (For example: Errors, warnings, or information). You can also see problems scoped to the current active file.
The debugging experience is also very smooth in Visual Studio Code. VS code also supports ‘Data Breakpoint’, so you can take a debugger break when a variable changes its value.
The Java Test Runner extension in VS code is a highlighted feature for testing. The Test Explorer directly shows all the test status/results. So unless you need detailed information, you don’t need to go down to ‘report’.
While coding in Java, I can also see the detailed build task status. This helps me understand the ‘behind the scenes’ picture. All I have to do is click on the language server status icon.
Visual Studio Code has a reputation for being lightweight. And still capable of good performance. You experience this while typing. The latency between typing and completion of suggestions is very low. It improves the coder’s experience. As he/she gets suggestions as soon as he/she types.
I discovered that Microsoft has worked especially on this feature to improve performance. It removed duplicate calls of APIs, which used to consume more time. It also controlled the completion results by using the java.completion.maxResults preference.
Selecting Java code in VS Code is easier than ever. Especially with the addition of support for Smart Selection for Java Code. Java developers can select code using keyboard shortcuts to switch between either selecting:
- A single argument
- Whole lines
- Classes or
- Every line of code.
One of my favorite features is the ability to use it over SSH (Secure Shell).
Do you develop on Linux Virtual machines, but have Windows installed on workstations?
Using VS Code, you can edit the code on Linux Virtual machines directly on Windows systems using VS Code. The experience is very smooth and feels like you’re directly editing code on Windows. But you are actually logged onto a Linux Virtual Machine and are editing your code there.
Some Problems You Might Encounter
VS Code could be ideal. But it isn’t. The only thing that bothers me and other Java developers is the abundance of extensions.
Yes! Great as this advantage is, it has a downside as well! There are so many duplicate plugins. And they are very efficiently duplicated! So it’s difficult to identify the correct one.
It can get a bit difficult for you. Especially if you code primarily in Java and have no experience with VS Code. In that case, you’re better off with eclipse or IntelliJ or whichever IDE you’ve been using. The benefit is for Java developers already working on VS Code with a different language. The ones who wish to put all their work in one place.
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There is an abundance of IT developer jobs. Especially for Java developers, following the explosive growth of the IT industry. As a result, many IDEs started offering Java support. They’re currently providing new features to ease out the work of developers. There are no specific rules to use a certain IDE. Nor does any onsite development company restrict its employees to one IDE. So don’t worry if you use any other IDE. Your priority should be the one that suits you and best enhances your work.