Microsoft Visual Studio Review

Great integrated debugger, offers lots of features, and is extremely stable


What is our primary use case?

Right now I'm primarily using the solution for C-Sharp development.

I've actually been using the solution on iOS to do Xamarin apps. That might be something that's quite atypical, in terms of using the solution. It's not easy to do.

What is most valuable?

Having also done development within a text, I really enjoyed the (what I believe is called) IntelliSense feature. It helps if you are doing development within a text browser.

The integrated debugger is fantastic. 

None of these are particularly new features. Everybody else has been using it for 20 years too.

I find it funny that a lot of people complain about the solution. However, I find that it provides users with so many great and useful features, like console output, for example. You always have the option to dump a whole bunch of items out if you don't need them in the production.

While you're coding, it's really nice to be able to print stuff out and make sure that all the data is being organized the way you want it to be. 

It's got a lot of tools integrated into it. 

There's a community edition that is absolutely free to use. It's pretty good.

What needs improvement?

If you use the professional edition, you can do unit testing much easier. You can do mock-ups and tasks of that nature. It would be nice if they made that available on the community edition as well. 

There needs to be a feature upgrade, especially for the free features. They might have done so in the past or over the last few years. Still, it would be nice it if happened more often.

During some research into the product, I've discovered that they are trying to apply AI, as well as machine learning. This would be a welcome edition. They will most likely be advanced features. That means they won't be free. However, maybe in the future, they will be, given that enough time passes.

Technical support needs to be improved. Right now, it's not great.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for a long time. I would estimate I've used it on and off for 20 years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is actually really stable. It's been around for so long. It's not like Microsoft Office products where a few years ago they decided to go redesign everything, and then the file formats were no longer compatible. In that case, users were confused as to which excel format to save in. This solution has been the same for 20 or so years. The format is the same. It hasn't changed. It remains very stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I can't really comment on that aspect of the solution. I work on small projects, so I've never used it on any kind of scale.

There are about 20 people who use it in our organization. They're either software developers or software testers.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't actually used their formal tech support, but have tried using their Microsoft answers. A lot of them are out of date. They're terrible. The support is basically: "Well, we can't reproduce that."

They don't even seem to do a search for themselves on Stack Overflow. You basically Google search to see if somebody else has answered the question. I would say that of course, it is free, so you get what you pay for and therefore the bar should be low on expectations. Still, it can be frustrating.

I have considered that maybe they have some poor interns trying to answer these questions, and they certainly don't seem too interested in providing the type of detailed responses a user might require. That's just what my impression is from trying to find answers occasionally. 

The nice thing about their model is if somebody asks a question, people will answer it. Then everyone can vote on the answer as the solution, and people can follow up. 

On Microsoft, if you go to their forums or help section for the product, you'll see the question is five years old. Nobody will ever say whether the answer they gave was the solution helped. So users often get confused. You need to ask yourself: "Do I spend half an hour deploying this? Or do I keep Googling?" It's awful.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is really easy. You just download it and start it up.

I don't think my company uses much of an implementation strategy. There aren't as many protocols or structures. If we need it, we just download it and begin using it. 

I would say the only downside with this setup is that although it's usually pretty clear what libraries you want to include, it is slow to download. You do have to set aside a time when you can start the download. It's best to go off and do something on your own. You'd hate to do it at work, as you'll have to wait and you'll have nothing else to do. It's going to take half an hour to download at least.

Maintenance requirements are extremely low. There's next to none, really. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution has a community version, which is free. It also has a paid version, with a few more premium features, but the free version is still really useful.

What other advice do I have?

I believe I am using the 2015 version of the solution. It's the default for C-Sharp programs at the very least. Depending on what programs we get in, we can often use it extensively. I don't have plans to expand the solution right now. There are other solutions that would be available to us. 

For example, if we're going to do Python development, we'll probably use PyCharm instead of Visual Studio. Visual Studio does support Python, but PyCharm was in there before and everybody knows it. So we don't really force people to use it. Our company is a small company, where developers can choose their own development avenues.

In terms of advice, I would give to other users, I would suggest following a tutorial at first if you've never used it. They actually have some good tutorials online. If you actually follow them line by line, you get the setup and training that you need. Their help answers to random user questions are terrible, however.

I'd rate the solution eight out of ten, mostly due to the fact that it's got a lot of features. If you want to do development, it makes it easy. I know, on the other hand, that there are some other really amazing tools out there. However, they aren't necessarily free. It's a good selling point: you get all this stuff for free, it's standard, and lots of people use it. Once you've learned it, it's quite useful.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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