Charting Stacks

Visual Studio Code – A Home For All Languages?

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TL; DR – Visual Studio Code usage continues to grow, across many language communities, including some surprising ones.

Since its initial release in April 2015, and subsequent open sourcing in November of the same year, Visual Studio Code has established itself as a popular editor among developers using a variety of different programming languages.

The project itself has seen some significant interest on Github, however the vast majority of the code contributions come directly from Microsoft employees. What is very positive to see is the number of issues being logged by the wider community – a sure sign of a healthy project with a significant number of users.


The Visual Studio Code extensions marketplace now has over 3000 entries, with pretty much every language you can think of having some form of support. Looking across these plugins we noted substantial download numbers for languages such as C#, C/C++ and PowerShell. These extensions are directly supported by Microsoft, and their popularity is very understandable. JavaScript is natively supported and has, perhaps rather aptly, its own mini-ecosystem of extensions with no one extension standing out.

However, it is the other languages that really grab your attention. From Python to Go to Rust to PHP there are significant numbers of developers using extensions in Visual Studio Code. We looked at the download figures for some of the most relevant languages in the RedMonk programming language rankings.

The specific extensions we looked at are

Python and Go stand out here for several reasons. Go is a language which has found its home with systems programmers, and is now emerging as a staple in some organisations for microservices. Python, while widely used in a variety of places has become one of the de-facto languages in data science, the other being R. Both are languages strongly associated with Linux, and, by virtue of this fact, strongly associated with editors such as vim.

Overall Visual Studio is showing significant momentum in a variety of areas. Extension downloads as a proxy for adoption is a loose measurement, but it is hard to argue against their being significant adoption when we can see figures of 2.1 million downloads for a relatively infrequently updated piece of software.

Disclaimers: Microsoft and Red Hat are current RedMonk clients.

Sidenote: On a personal level I have being slowly, but surely, moving from vim to an editor for code, and the editor of choice is currently Visual Studio Code (alongside RStudio for R). The movement to an editor has been a process of fits and starts over the years, although I have always used an IDE for Java. My own Visual Studio Code setup includes extensions for Python, Go, PHP and Docker.

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