What is Visual Studio and How Can It Help My Apps?

What is Visual Studio? How Can it Help My Apps?

Visual Studio is the integrated development environment (IDE) from Microsoft. Its most well-known function is to write web, desktop and mobile applications in C# and Visual Basic. It can be used for a number of other tasks as well, including Unity 3D game development, Node.js, Visual F# and Visual C++ development.

Visual Studio is also the basis for SQL Server Management Studio. Numerous versions of Visual Studio are available — some available for free, some not.

Not all features mentioned here are available in all versions of Visual Studio.

Web development

Visual Studio allows web developers to work with ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Forms. Support for Node.js was added recently. With Visual Studio, you can edit HTML as well as work with XML and other file formats commonly used on the Web.


Visual Studio also has tools for testing web services. Developers do not need access to a Windows server to develop web applications with Visual Studio, as they can run ASP.NET on their machines and test and debug the code effortlessly.

If your organization has Silverlight code, Visual Studio will work with it, too.

Windows development

Despite the buzz around the Web and mobile, enterprises still depend on native Windows desktop applications. With Visual Studio, you can write these applications in a number of different ways:


  • Modern UI Windows applications using XAML and C# or Visual Basic
  • Modern UI Windows applications using HTML and JavaScript
  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) applications
  • Windows Forms applications

These four approaches enable you to handle everything from maintaining legacy Windows desktop applications to writing Modern UI applications for use in Windows 8.

Mobile development

Mobile development is a hot field. What is Visual Studio good for in this area? It can help you write applications for mobile devices in a number of different ways:


Some of these options are provided by third-party plug-ins. Apache Cordova acts as a wrapper around HTML and JavaScript to add APIs for working with mobile devices. Xamarin allows developers to write mobile applications in .NET. It also provides a different user interface (UI) depending on device type for a truly native feel.

Windows Phone native applications are written in either XAML and C# or Visual Basic or in HTML and JavaScript, much like Modern UI Windows applications. While there are currently significant differences between Modern UI Windows applications and Windows Phone applications, Windows 10 promises to erase those differences.

Development life cycle

Visual Studio includes numerous tools for the full development life cycle. It can work with UML diagrams to help you plan the application. Visual Studio also integrates nicely with Team Foundation Server, Git and other version control systems.


Unit testing capabilities are built into Visual Studio as well. You can also manage release packages, third-party libraries, and other configuration and deployment tasks using Visual Studio.

So, what is Visual Studio? It’s a one-stop shop for developing Windows code. Learning to use Visual Studio will likely unlock a number of possible tech career paths for you.

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