Visual Studio is the all-in-one development environment for developing software using Microsoft Technologies. If you will be programming in C#, it is recommended to install and use Visual Studio. There are multiple versions of Visual Studio, both paid and free (we will be using the free version). Visual Studio is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for building .NET applications and even non-.NET ones. You can create a C# application just by using a notepad or any text editor to type your codes. You can then use the C# compiler available when you install .NET. But that can be a tedious process and errors would be hard to detect.
It is recommended to use an IDE when creating programs. These IDE’s are equipped with great features that help you when developing C# applications. A lot of processes that takes time to do can be automated by Visual Studio. One of its features is IntelliSense which guides you as you type your code. Debugging for errors is easier by adding breakpoints to your code which allows you to pause the execution of code at a certain part and check the current values of the variables in your program when it is running. Visual Studio can also detect errors in your program as you type and even try to fix minor errors such as capitalization. It includes designer tools for creating graphical user interfaces which generate the long code that you need to manually type if not using Visual Studio. With these powerful features, your productivity will increase and development times will decrease.
Currently, the latest version of Visual Studio is Visual Studio 2015. This version is further split into different versions. The paid version of Visual Studio will have varying features depending on the version. The cheapest version is Visual Studio Professional and the most expensive one is Visual Studio Enterprise. Visual Studio Professional will have most of what you will need for development. Good news has come when Microsoft decided to open-source .NET. This follows the introduction of an all-new and free version of Visual Studio, the Visual Studio Community. Visual Studio Community will be equivalent to Visual Studio Professional in terms of features although it will be totally free for open-source development, students, and small teams. This will effectively replace the Visual Studio Express versions which is also free but has way more limited features than the Professional version. We will be using Visual Studio Community in our tutorials, but you can also use the Express or paid versions to follow along.