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Home Guide Xcode vs VSCode: Everything you need to know

Xcode vs VSCode: Everything you need to know

By Mohit Joshi, Community Contributor -

Integrated development environments (IDEs) like Xcode and VS Code are used for programming and software development. Although in the comparison of Xcode vs Visual Studio Code, we found they both strive towards the same goal, they differ in several ways. 

  • Xcode was created by Apple specifically for its ecosystem since it targets app development compatible with macOS and iOS. Xcode does not facilitate the development of Windows-oriented programs and is aligned with the Apple environment. Therefore, developers frequently seek if it is feasible to create software for Windows. 
  • VSCode (Visual Studio Code) is a free, open-source IDE made by Microsoft that can be used to create any software or program. It has no restrictions other than that Xcode smoothly concentrates on the Apple environment, whereas VS Code lacks the specialized tools for Apple systems.

Importance of Choosing the Right IDE 

Many of the features and functionalities of many IDEs are the same. However, they vary depending on the situation. The IDE you choose affects your overall coding experience, productivity, and efficiency. 

The right IDE will give a user-friendly experience, utilizing community support and developing your skills. It will also improve the process of detecting issues, thus improving the code quality. The correct IDE will also promote cooperation among your development team. 

Even though Xcode and VS Code are two of the best IDEs ever developed, there is a slight variation in who uses them and why. 

What is Xcode?

Xcode is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that was created extensively to develop software that supports all the platforms developed by Apple. 

  • Xcode will provide a seamless development experience for anyone on Apple’s platforms. 
  • Some of the prominent features of Xcode include an interface builder that supports drag and drop features for designing UI elements, an Asset catalog that helps organize the multimedia files by providing a central location to access the assets from there, and some features. 
  • Some popular tools that integrate into XCode include CocoaPods, a third-party service integrator, Carthage, a dependency manager for iOS and macOS, and more. 
  • Some popular companies that use XCode for their projects are Apple, Google, Facebook, and Airbnb.

Now, let’s discuss some pros and cons of using Xcode. 

Pros of XCode

  1.  Xcode provides a complete suite of iOS/macOS development tools, including a code editor, interface builder, testing framework, debugging tools, and more.
  2. It provides extensive features for Apple platforms, offering a seamless development of native applications and a smooth experience. 
  3. The most used language for Apple development is Swift. Xcode provides comprehensive support for the Swift language, including automatic code completion, syntax highlighting, and more. 
  4. Offers powerful debugging and profiling capabilities, including breakpoints, stack traces, and performance analysis tools

Cons of XCode

  1. Xcode is limited to developing apps exclusively for Apple’s platforms, such as iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
  2. It consumes a lot of space whenever you’re compiling projects. Moreover, the process is significantly time-consuming. 
  3. Has a steep learning curve, especially for developers new to iOS/macOS development or unfamiliar with Apple’s dev ecosystem.

What is VSCode? 

VS Code is a free, open-source source-code editor developed and maintained by Microsoft. Unlike Xcode, it supports the development of all programming languages. Many people consider VS code and Microsoft Visual Studio the same; both are code development tools. However, there are some key differences. 

  • Microsft Visual Studio is a full-fledged IDE, whereas VS Code is a lightweight script editor.
  • Some of the prominent features of VS code include an integrated terminal that saves a lot of effort; you can define and execute multiple tasks at once that run automatically simultaneously, and more features. 
  • For further enhancing functionality, VS Code offers a vast ecosystem of plugins and third-party services that integrates well into VS Code. 
  • Some popular tools are, GitLens, Containerization, Docker, and more. 
  • Amazon, IBM, and Twitter are some of the major companies that utilize VS Code in production. 
  • Preview and test their websites directly in BrowserStack through Visual Studio. 
  • Select the OS and browser combination you wish to test and click ‘Go’ to start testing. 
  • Free trial users get 30 minutes of free, unrestricted testing across all browsers and Operating systems.
  • Visual Studio Express users can also download the plugin directly from BrowserStack.

Download the BrowserStack VSCode Extention

Pros of VSCode

  1. VS code is extremely lightweight and fast compared to other code editors. 
  2. It has a vast ecosystem that could incorporate several third-party services, such as plugin extensions, more smoothly. 
  3. VS Code offers IntelliSense, a powerful code-completion feature that provides context-aware suggestions as you type.

Cons of VSCode

  1. Although VS code is fairly popular, being an open-source application, it does not have official user support channels. However, the community support for VS code is solid. 
  2. For mobile native development, it does not offer significant support as compared to other IDEs, such as a built-in emulator, native integrations, and more. 
  3. VS Code relies heavily on extensions and plugins to extend its functionality.
  4. It may slow down when working with larger codebases or projects.

Xcode vs VSCode: Comparison

ParameterXcodeVS Code
Language Support Only C++, Swift, and ObjCAll languages are supported
Debugging ProcessAdvanced debugging features are present, however, they can be complex sometimes. The overall debugging process is quick.
Disk Space usageMore than 10GBLess than 200MB
Popularity34% of developers are using Xcode56.7% of all the developers prefer VS Code
Compiling Speed Can be slow sometimes. Fast
Customization Limited customization features available Highly customizable 
Community SupportYesLarger community support

Choosing between Xcode and VSCode 

After reading about the features of both programs, you could be amazed and confused. So, let’s look at some of the factors you should consider before choosing the best IDE for your upcoming big project. 

  1. Primary Motive: Choose the official IDE created by Apple, Xcode, if developing software for Apple systems is your main goal. However, VS Code is better if you work as a web developer or software developer in a language other than Swift and ObjC. 
  2. Programming Language: Xcode integrates well with Apple’s preferred programming languages, Swift and Objective-C. Xcode offers advanced functionalities if you’re working with one of these languages. VSCode has all the functionalities in-house for development with languages like HTML, JavaScript, Python, C++, and more.
  3. Cross-platform support: Because VS Code is compatible with Windows, Linux, and MacOS and allows for simple developer communication, it is an excellent option for getting cross-platform support if you frequently work with developers that use multiple operating systems. 
  4. Ease of Use: Consider the user interface and ease of use. Xcode has a more specialized interface, which can benefit Apple platforms. VSCode follows a more general-purpose IDE layout and is known for its simplicity and customization options.

It’s worth considering trying out both IDEs to see which one aligns better with your workflow and provides the necessary features for your development projects.

Best Practices for Xcode and VSCode

Here are some recommended practices you may use further to improve the productivity and efficiency of your development experience. 

  1. Learn shortcuts: If you’re familiar with multiple keyboard shortcuts, you can complete the task quickly. Moreover, there is at least a shortcut for even the basic task you can do on VS Code. 
  2. Extensions and Plugins: You may use third-party plugins and extensions to further improve your work by developing better language support and code formatting to get the most out of any programming language. 
  3. Utilize the integrated terminal: If you need to use the terminal while developing, utilizing the terminal conventionally is less convenient than using the integrated terminal of VS Code and Xcode without leaving the editor.
  4. Leverage Customization: With VS Code’s extensive customization options, you may change your font, theme, and other settings to create a more aesthetically pleasing user experience. 

Summing it Up

We must first assess the needs of our projects to select the best IDE and then decide between Xcode and VS Code. We examined the attributes, benefits, and drawbacks of Xcode and VS Code. Factors influencing the correct IDE selection, including the target platform, preferred programming languages, and workflow needs, must be considered. 

Additionally, we contrasted Xcode with VS Code according to criteria including disc usage, compatibility, compilation, performance, and more.

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