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Visual Studio Code Boosts Java IDE Capabilities

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According to surveys, one out of four Java developers uses Visual Studio Code (VS Code), Microsoft’s free, cross-platform IDE that has recently become a more fully-fledged Java IDE. New welcome and configuration screens ease project set-up, new project and hierarchy views make code navigation easier, quality-of-life improvements save coding time, and the Spring Framework and Microsoft’s Azure cloud service are now better integrated.

VS Code is a member of Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE family, together with Visual Studio for Windows and Visual Studio for Mac. Microsoft claimed 14 million users for VS Code last February, up from 9 million in 2020 and 2.6 million at the end of 2017. There are approximately 8 million Java developers.

Two prominent surveys report Java IDE market share. The JRebel 2021 Java Technology Report (876 responses in August - November 2020) gave VS Code a 27% market share, IntelliJ IDEA 65%, and Eclipse IDE 48%. The Snyk JVM Ecosystem Report 2021 (over 2,000 responses in February - March 2021) pegged VS Code’s market share at 23%, IntelliJ IDEA at 72%, and Eclipse at 25%. Both reports allowed for multiple answers to this question. Snyk also found that every second developer uses more than one IDE, and every fourth developer uses four or more IDEs.

The Java Extension Pack extension contains the core Java IDE functionality for VS Code. A recent video on the Microsoft Developer YouTube channel detailed updates related to that extension.

Microsoft also demonstrated two general Azure features with Java examples: Application Insights and DevOps Starter. Application Insights deliver application metrics similar to offerings from New Relic. These metrics are either collected by agents outside of deployed applications or by the applications themselves through an Azure SDK.

DevOps Starter creates an application complete with a GitHub repository, GitHub Actions for Continuous Integration, deployment to Azure, and tests. DevOps Starter Java projects may now use Gradle, which cuts down the build time from multiple minutes with Maven to 33 seconds as demonstrated in the example.

Oracle recently announced a VS Code extension for its Project Helidon microservices framework. This extension contains a project generation wizard and may also continuously compile and restart an application using the Helidon CLI that Oracle added in Helidon 2.0.

Microsoft supported Java 16 in VS Code in April 2021, a month after its release.

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