Understanding Visual Studio Dev Essentials: A Guide for Developers (2023)


Why don't developers ever get sunburned?
Because they use Visual Studio Dev Essentials - they're always covered in the .NET environment!

Unlock the full potential of your development journey with Visual Studio Dev Essentials! Whether you are a seasoned developer or a complete beginner stepping into the world of programming, Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a treasure trove of tools, resources, and services that will fuel your coding journey.

In this comprehensive guide, we unravel the features of Visual Studio Dev Essentials, right from setting up your first project to deploying your application. We explore the robust coding environment, the intuitive debugging and testing tools, and delve into the project management features that make managing your projects a breeze.

But that's not all! Visual Studio Dev Essentials isn't just about writing code. It's a complete learning and development ecosystem. With access to premium learning platforms like Microsoft Learn, Pluralsight, and LinkedIn Learning, you can expand your knowledge and stay updated with industry trends. Get hands-on experience with cloud services using Azure credits, and collaborate with the vast developer community on GitHub.

By the end of this guide, you'll not only understand the powerful features of Visual Studio Dev Essentials but also learn how to harness these features to become a more skilled, efficient, and confident developer. Get ready to elevate your coding journey with Visual Studio Dev Essentials!

  • Overview Of Visual Studio Dev Essentials
  • Getting Started With Visual Studio Dev Essentials
  • Setting Up Your First Project
  • Coding In Visual Studio Dev Essentials
  • Debugging And Testing Your Code
  • Managing Your Project
  • Deploying Your Application
  • Exploring Additional Features And Benefits
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Important disclosure: we're proud affiliates of some tools mentioned in this guide. If you click an affiliate link and subsequently make a purchase, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you (you pay nothing extra). For more information, read our affiliate disclosure.

    Overview Of Visual Studio Dev Essentials

    In an era marked by digital transformation, the demand for proficient software developers has surged exponentially. One tool that has emerged as a cornerstone in the realm of software development is Visual Studio Dev Essentials by Microsoft.

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a free program from Microsoft designed to provide developers with an all-in-one suite of services, tools, and resources needed to create innovative software applications. It is essentially a one-stop-shop for your development needs, whether you are a beginner starting from scratch or an experienced developer looking to expand your toolkit.

    The Visual Studio Dev Essentials package incorporates a range of components including but not limited to:

    1. Visual Studio IDE: The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) where you can write, debug, and test your code.
    2. Visual Studio Code: A lightweight, yet powerful, source code editor that runs on your desktop and is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
    3. Azure services: Offers access to the cloud with a monthly Azure credit and select free services, allowing you to develop, test, and deploy software applications in the cloud.
    4. Learning Resources: To help you grow, Dev Essentials also provides free access to LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and Pluralsight, platforms rich in content covering a wide array of technologies and skills.

    Significance Of Visual Studio Dev Essentials In Software Development

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials plays a significant role in the software development ecosystem. It equips developers with a comprehensive toolkit, designed to streamline the coding process and boost productivity.

    • Flexibility: It supports a multitude of programming languages, including C#, VB.NET, C++, JavaScript, Python, and many more. This ensures that developers have the flexibility to code in the language they are most comfortable with.
    • Collaboration: It also enables efficient teamwork with features such as code sharing, real-time collaboration, and version control.
    • Learning: The wide range of learning resources available can help developers upskill and stay updated with the latest technological trends.
    • Scalability: With Azure services, developers can build scalable applications and leverage the power of cloud computing.

    In a nutshell, Visual Studio Dev Essentials is an essential toolkit for any software developer, paving the way for faster, more efficient, and more powerful software development.

    Understanding Visual Studio Dev Essentials: A Guide for Developers (1)

    (Video) Microsoft Development Essentials - Visual Studio Overview

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials is the toolbox for modern developers. It's not just about writing code; it's about creating, innovating, and building the future.

    Bill Gates

    CEO & Microsoft

    Getting Started With Visual Studio Dev Essentials

    Now that you're familiar with Visual Studio Dev Essentials and its potential in the realm of software development, let's take a look at how to get started with it.

    System Requirements

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials program is essentially a suite of services and tools. The system requirements depend largely on which specific tools you plan to use. However, to install and run the Visual Studio IDE (2019 or later), your system should meet the following minimum requirements:

    • Operating System: Windows 10 version 1703 or higher: Home, Professional, Education, and Enterprise (LTSC and S are not supported)
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz or faster processor. Quad-core or better recommended.
    • Memory: 2 GB of RAM; 8 GB of RAM recommended (2.5 GB minimum if running on a virtual machine)
    • Storage: Hard disk space: up to 130 GB of available space, depending on features installed; typical installations require 20-50 GB of free space.
    • Graphics: DirectX 9-capable video card running at 1024 x 768 or higher display resolution.

    Please note that Visual Studio IDE is also available for macOS, and system requirements can be found on the official Visual Studio website.

    Installation Guide

    Once you've ensured that your system meets the necessary requirements, follow these steps to install Visual Studio Dev Essentials:

    1. Download the Installer: Visit the Visual Studio downloads page. Choose the Community 2019 edition which is free to use.
    2. Run the Installer: After the installer is downloaded, run it. This opens the installer that downloads the rest of the Visual Studio package.
    3. Choose your Workloads: Visual Studio is modular, and you only need to download the parts you'll use (called "workloads"). For example, if you're planning to develop desktop applications in .NET, you should choose the ".NET desktop development" workload. You can always install more workloads later if your needs change.
    4. Installation: Once you've selected your workloads, click "Install". The installer will then download and install the selected components.

    Creating A Microsoft Account

    To access Visual Studio Dev Essentials, you'll need a Microsoft account. If you don't already have one, follow these steps:

    1. Visit the Microsoft account page and click on "Create a Microsoft account".
    2. You can choose to use your existing email address, or you can create a new one. Fill in the required information and click "Next".
    3. Set a strong password for your account. It's recommended to use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
    4. Microsoft will send a verification code to your email. Input this code to verify your email address.
    5. Complete the setup by filling in your details (country/region and birthdate).

    Congratulations! You now have a Microsoft account, and you're ready to get started with Visual Studio Dev Essentials. Log in to your account and enjoy the suite of tools and resources available for your development journey.

    Setting Up Your First Project

    With Visual Studio Dev Essentials installed and your Microsoft account ready, it's time to dive into the exciting world of coding by setting up your first project.

    Creating A New Project

    To create a new project in Visual Studio, follow these steps:

    1. Open Visual Studio.
    2. Click on "Create a new project" on the start window. If you're already working in the IDE, you can find this option under the "File" menu.
    3. In the "Create a new project" window, you'll see a list of project templates. You can filter them based on language, platform, and project type.
    4. Select the template that fits your needs, and then click "Next".
    5. On the "Configure your new project" page, enter a name and location for your project, and then click "Create".

    Congratulations, you've successfully created your first project in Visual Studio!

    Understanding Project Templates

    In Visual Studio, project templates provide a predefined skeleton of a project in a specific language, adhering to best practices and suitable configuration. This allows you to start coding right away without worrying about the initial project setup. Visual Studio has templates for different types of applications across multiple languages and platforms.

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    Here are a few examples of project templates available:

    • Console App (.NET Core): This template creates a simple command-line application that runs on .NET Core, which is cross-platform and can run on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
    • ASP.NET Core Web Application: This template sets up a project for creating modern web applications using ASP.NET Core. You can further choose between different configurations such as an empty project, one with Identity support, or one that includes a basic configuration for MVC (Model-View-Controller).
    • Xamarin.Forms (Mobile App): This template helps you create a mobile application that can run on Android, iOS, and Windows.

    Each template creates a basic "Hello, World!" application by default. For example, if you create a new project using the "Console App (.NET Core)" template, you'll get a Program.cs file with code to print "Hello, World!" to the console.

    using System;namespace HelloWorld{ class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { Console.WriteLine("Hello, World!"); } }}

    Using these templates, you can kickstart your development work with a solid foundation and then build your application according to your specific requirements.

    Coding In Visual Studio Dev Essentials

    Visual Studio provides a robust and interactive environment to write and manage your code. Let's explore the coding environment and one of its most powerful features, IntelliSense.

    Overview Of The Coding Environment

    When you open a code file in Visual Studio, the code editor becomes the central point. Here you write and edit your code. By default, the editor shows line numbers and syntax coloring to improve code readability.

    On the right of the code editor, you find the Solution Explorer, which displays the structure of your project and solution. You can navigate through your files, classes, and methods in the Solution Explorer.

    At the bottom, you see the Output Window, which is especially useful when you build and debug your project, as it shows messages about build progress and any errors.

    Let's consider a simple example. Suppose we are building a console application that greets the user. Your coding environment would look something like this:

    using System;namespace GreetingApp{ class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { Console.WriteLine("What's your name?"); string name = Console.ReadLine(); Console.WriteLine($"Hello, {name}!"); } }}

    In this example, when the application runs, it will ask for the user's name and then greet the user with the entered name.

    Exploring IntelliSense Feature

    One of the most powerful features of the Visual Studio code editor is IntelliSense - a coding assistance tool that provides code suggestions as you type. It helps you write code faster and with fewer errors by showing API documentation, providing code completion suggestions, and automatically adding necessary namespaces.

    Let's explore this feature using an example. Suppose you want to use a List<string> in your code. As you start typing List, IntelliSense will show a dropdown list with matching names from the .NET libraries.

    using System;using System.Collections.Generic;namespace MyApp{ class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { List<string> names = new List<string>(); names.Add("Alice"); names.Add("Bob"); foreach (var name in names) { Console.WriteLine($"Hello, {name}!"); } } }}

    In this code, when you start typing List<string> names = new, as soon as you type names.Add(, IntelliSense will automatically suggest Add as it is a commonly used method with Lists.

    IntelliSense saves you time by reducing the amount of typing you need to do, helps prevent typos, and serves as an easy way to learn and use new APIs or libraries. You can control how IntelliSense works to suit your preferences via Visual Studio's options dialog.

    Debugging And Testing Your Code

    The quality of your software is as crucial as its functionality. That's why debugging and testing are integral parts of the software development process. Visual Studio provides an exceptional set of tools for debugging and testing your code.

    The debugger in Visual Studio is a powerful feature that allows you to control the execution of your program line by line, inspect the values of variables at any point in time, and understand the flow of control and data in your code.

    Here is how you can debug your code:

    1. Set a breakpoint where you want your code to pause by clicking in the left margin next to the line of code or pressing F9 while on the desired line.
    2. Start debugging by clicking on the "Start Debugging" button or pressing F5.
    3. When the code execution hits your breakpoint, it will pause, and you can inspect the state of your app in the debugger windows.
    4. Step through your code with the "Step Over" (F10), "Step Into" (F11), or "Step Out" (Shift + F11) commands.
    5. Inspect variables in the "Locals" and "Watch" windows. You can also hover over a variable in the code editor to see its current value in a tooltip.

    For example, consider a simple application that calculates the factorial of a number:

    using System;namespace DebugDemo{ class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { Console.WriteLine("Enter a number:"); int number = int.Parse(Console.ReadLine()); int factorial = CalculateFactorial(number); Console.WriteLine($"The factorial of {number} is {factorial}"); } static int CalculateFactorial(int number) { int result = 1; for (int i = 2; i <= number; i++) { result *= i; } return result; } }}

    You can place a breakpoint on the line int factorial = CalculateFactorial(number);, and when the code execution pauses at this line, you can inspect the value of number.

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    Writing And Executing Tests

    Visual Studio includes a test framework for writing and executing unit tests. The most common one used with .NET is the MSTest framework. You can create a separate test project in your solution for your tests.

    Here is an example of a test class for our CalculateFactorial method:

    using Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UnitTesting;using DebugDemo;namespace DebugDemo.Tests{ [TestClass] public class ProgramTests { [TestMethod] public void CalculateFactorial_ReturnsCorrectValue() { // Arrange int number = 5; int expectedFactorial = 120; // Act int actualFactorial = Program.CalculateFactorial(number); // Assert Assert.AreEqual(expectedFactorial, actualFactorial); } }}

    To run the tests, open the "Test Explorer" window and click on "Run All". This will execute all your tests and show the results in the "Test Explorer" window.


    By effectively using the debugging and testing tools in Visual Studio, you can ensure that your code behaves as expected, and you can quickly identify and fix any bugs or issues.

    Managing Your Project

    Visual Studio comes equipped with various project management features designed to facilitate the organization and configuration of your project, and to streamline the build process. Let's delve into these features.

    Here are some key features that aid in project management in Visual Studio:

    1. Solution Explorer: This is a navigational tool that provides a hierarchical view of your solution, projects, and files. It allows you to add, remove, and organize your projects and files.
    2. Property Pages: You can use these to manage various settings of your project like the target framework, debugging options, build configurations, etc.
    3. NuGet Package Manager: This allows you to add, update, and remove libraries and packages used in your project. These packages can significantly enhance the functionality of your application and streamline your development process.
    4. Team Explorer: If you're working as part of a team and using version control (like Git), Team Explorer can be used to manage and navigate your repositories, branches, and work items.

    Solution Configurations And Build Management

    A solution configuration defines how your projects are built and deployed. By default, Visual Studio provides two solution configurations: Debug and Release.

    • Debug Configuration: This configuration is meant for debugging your application. It enables debug information, does not optimize the code (for easier debugging), and defines the "DEBUG" symbol (which you can use for conditional compilation).
    • Release Configuration: This configuration is meant for the final deployment of your application. It optimizes the code for performance and does not include debug information.

    You can switch between these configurations using the dropdown on the standard toolbar.

    The "Build" menu provides various options for building your solution or projects:

    • Build Solution (F7): Builds all the projects in your solution.
    • Rebuild Solution: Cleans and then builds all the projects in your solution (effectively building from scratch).
    • Clean Solution: Deletes all intermediate files and output directories, leaving only the project and source files.

    Through effective use of these project management features and understanding of solution configurations and build management, you can maintain an organized project structure and a streamlined build process, thereby enhancing your productivity.

    Deploying Your Application

    After completing the development and testing stages of your application, the next step is deployment. Deployment is the process of packaging and distributing your application for use by end-users.

    In Visual Studio, the deployment process depends on the type of application you're creating. Here are some examples:

    • Console Applications: You can publish console applications as self-contained executables. These include all necessary dependencies, allowing the application to run on machines even without .NET installed.
    • Web Applications: Visual Studio can publish web applications directly to IIS, Azure, or any hosting provider that supports Web Deploy or FTP. You can also package your web application as a Docker container.
    • Desktop Applications (Windows Forms, WPF): You can use ClickOnce or MSI Installer for deploying these applications.

    The deployment process in Visual Studio typically involves creating a publish profile and then using it to publish your application.

    Creating A Publish Profile

    A publish profile contains all the information necessary for deploying your application, like the target location, deployment method, configuration, etc. Here's how you can create a publish profile:

    1. Right-click on your project in the Solution Explorer and select "Publish...".
    2. In the "Pick a publish target" window, select the target location for your application. The available options will depend on your application type. For example, for a web application, you might select "Azure", "IIS", "FTP", etc.
    3. Once you select a target, you might need to fill in some additional information. For example, if you're publishing to Azure, you'll need to select an existing App Service or create a new one.
    4. Click on "Create Profile". This creates a publish profile with a .pubxml file in the "Properties\PublishProfiles" directory of your project. This file contains all the settings for your publish profile.
    5. Now, you can click on "Publish" to deploy your application. Visual Studio will build your application in the selected configuration, package it, and deploy it to the specified target location.

    Remember to always test your application in the deployment environment as it may behave differently than in your development environment. By thoroughly understanding the deployment process, you can ensure that your users can easily install and use your application.

    Exploring Additional Features And Benefits

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials provides more than just a state-of-the-art development environment. It also includes a collection of additional resources that can aid your learning journey and further improve your development skills.

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    Overview Of Additional Resources

    Here are some notable resources included with Visual Studio Dev Essentials:

    1. Microsoft Learn: This is an online learning platform where you can find numerous courses on different technologies, including C#, .NET, Azure, and much more. It provides interactive learning with hands-on labs and knowledge checks.
    2. Pluralsight: You get free access to Pluralsight for a limited time, where you can access a vast library of video courses taught by industry experts.
    3. LinkedIn Learning: You also get free access to LinkedIn Learning for a limited time, which offers courses on a variety of topics including programming languages, software development practices, and more.
    4. Azure Credits: Visual Studio Dev Essentials includes free monthly Azure credits. You can use these credits to experiment with and learn about Azure services without any cost.
    5. GitHub: GitHub is a popular platform for version control and open-source collaboration. You can use GitHub to manage your source code, collaborate with other developers, and contribute to open-source projects.

    Using These Resources To Enhance Your Development Skills

    To take full advantage of these resources, you can do the following:

    • Plan your learning journey by identifying the skills you want to acquire or improve. Based on that, choose relevant courses from Microsoft Learn, Pluralsight, or LinkedIn Learning. Spend dedicated time each day or week to go through these courses.
    • Use Azure credits to gain hands-on experience with Azure services. You can create virtual machines, databases, web apps, and much more. Microsoft Learn provides many learning paths and modules specifically for Azure.
    • Use GitHub not just as a version control system for your projects but also to collaborate with other developers. Explore open-source projects, contribute to them, and learn from the code written by other developers.


    By actively using these resources, you can continually improve your technical skills, stay updated with the latest technologies and best practices, and become a more competent and confident developer.

    Happy coding!🙌

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is Visual Studio Dev Essentials?

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a free program from Microsoft that provides developers with access to a broad range of resources, including development tools, cloud services, software, support, and learning resources.

    What benefits do I get with Visual Studio Dev Essentials?

    With Visual Studio Dev Essentials, you get access to Visual Studio IDE, Visual Studio Code, Azure services, and other development tools. You also get free access to learning resources like Microsoft Learn, Pluralsight, and LinkedIn Learning, along with monthly Azure credits.

    Can I use Visual Studio Dev Essentials for commercial use?

    Yes, the tools and resources provided in Visual Studio Dev Essentials can be used for commercial use. However, you should check the individual terms and conditions for each tool or resource to ensure compliance.

    How can I learn more about using the features in Visual Studio Dev Essentials?

    There are several resources available to learn about the features of Visual Studio Dev Essentials. Microsoft Learn offers a variety of learning paths and modules for different technologies. Additionally, you can find video courses on Pluralsight and LinkedIn Learning. You can also refer to the official Microsoft documentation.

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    What is Visual Studio Dev essential? ›

    Visual Studio Dev Essentials is a free Microsoft program that provides access to developer tools.

    Does Visual Studio Dev Essentials cost money? ›

    All the tools you need

    Tools to develop for any platform – for free.

    Is it easy to learn Visual Studio? ›

    Visual Studio provides a first-class Git and GitHub experience. Features like authentication, cloning, and creating new repositories are built into Visual Studio making it very easy to get started with Git and GitHub.

    Is Visual Studio dev free? ›

    Visual Studio Community. A fully-featured, extensible, free IDE for creating modern applications for Android, iOS, Windows, as well as web applications and cloud services.


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