Review of Visual Studio Community – Replacing Express

If you’ve looked for Microsoft’s Visual Studio Express IDE lately, you’ll have noticed that it’s no longer available.

Which may have made you nervous.

Express was the free version of Visual Studio, so now that it’s gone, will you have to fork over your cash to Microsoft?

Fortunately, the answer is no 🙂

Well, sort of. Keep reading!

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

You don’t need to buy the Professional version for over $500 each year. But things have changed a bit.

Let’s talk about the replacement for Visual Studio Express.

What is Visual Studio Community?

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Community edition is now the free option for developers.

If you want to use Visual Studio without paying a bunch of money, Community is the way to go.

In most respects, it performs the same functions as the more expensive versions. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Visual Studio Versions

As you can see, it falls behind Visual Studio Professional only in usage scenarios. Enterprise, as you might expect, outperforms it in most ways.

Which is why it costs a lot more.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

The only usage scenario that Community doesn’t support is enterprise use.

And if you’re looking for a free IDE, you probably aren’t concerned about that.

Other than that, Visual Studio Community is a great IDE.

Visual Studio

It offers a wide variety of online and offline tools for developing apps. It has built-in Git integration. You can code and test iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac apps.

And it now has a modular installer so you can choose what you want on your hard drive (a great feature for saving space).

In short, it’s a standard IDE with all the features you’d expect.

Visual Studio Express vs. Community

If you used Visual Studio Express in the past, you may remember that it was a bit watered down.

You could use it to create a very specific set of projects based on which edition you had (Web, Windows, or Windows Desktop).

Visual Studio Express

That was very limiting if you wanted to work on projects for different platforms.

So in that way, the Community edition is much more useful than the Express version.

In fact, it’s superior in almost every way. Which is why Express was retired. Community is just better.

There’s only one place where you’ll have to be careful…

Who Can Use
Visual Studio Community?

I mentioned that Visual Studio Community is free. And that’s true. You’ll never have to pay for it.

However, there are certain groups that aren’t allowed to use the Community edition. Here’s how Microsoft breaks it down:

  • Any individual can use Visual Studio Community to create free or paid apps
  • An organization can use an unlimited number of Community licenses for classroom learning, academic research, or contributing to open-source projects
  • A non-enterprise organization can use up to five licenses for any purpose
  • An enterprise organization (defined as having over 250 PCs or $1 million in revenue) cannot use Community except for classroom learning, academic research, or contributing to open-source projects

Basically, if you’re in a large company, you can’t use Community unless it’s for a non-profit purpose. Small companies can still use Community for whatever they want.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

If your business has more than 250 PCs or generates more than $1 million in revenue, you’ll need to use the Professional or Enterprise editions.

Don’t Forget About
Visual Studio Code

Another free option for developers is Visual Studio Code, a free and open-source code editor.

As it’s not an IDE, it doesn’t have all the features of Visual Studio Express, Community, or Professional.

Visual Studio code

But if you don’t need all of those extra features, Visual Studio Code is a great way to save some money and stay within the Microsoft ecosystem (if that’s something you’re looking to do).

You get things like Intellisense completion, debugging, built-in Git functionality, and the option to use extensions.

You’ll miss out on some of the higher-level features of Visual Studio like testing and extensive collaboration tools.

But if you don’t need those things, Visual Studio Code is a great choice.

You Can Still Use
Visual Studio Express

It’s also worth pointing out that you can still get Visual Studio Express if you want a copy.

Head to the Visual Studio Express page—you’ll see that it’s now mostly focused on getting you to download Community.

But if you scroll down, you can grab Express 2015 for Windows 10, Express 2015 for Web, Express 2015 for Windows Desktop, or Express 2017 for Windows Desktop.

Visual Studio Express links

To be honest, though, you’re better off just using Community.

It’s Time to Make the Change

If you’re still using Visual Studio Express, or you’ve been trying to find it, it’s time to make the change over to Community.

It offers more power, more features, and a better IDE experience.

Again, the only downside is that Microsoft won’t let you use Community if you’re at an enterprise (over 250 PCs or $1 million in revenue) unless you’re working on a non-profit project.

As long as you meet those requirements, though, Visual Studio Community is a fantastic option for developers of all types.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto