Teaching Java with Visual Studio Code why is this better than Eclipse



Java is one of the major practical and widely-used languages that fall within the Object Oriented family.

Many institutions use Java as a first-year teaching language and generally teach the Java course is intended to:

1. Provide all of our students with exposure to a common programming language that can be used by later courses and practical work

2. Introduce the syntax that is (almost) common to several of the most widely used practical programming languages today (the syntax of Java has a great deal in common with that of C and C++, so having learned Java you are quite a long way to understanding those languages too

3. Discuss the process of designing, writing and debugging programs and raise some awareness of issues of style

4. Present the Object Oriented aspects of a programming language as means to enforce modularity in large programs

5. Teach basic use of Java, a language that has significant relevance in the outside world today.


For those learning to code here is a set of the ten top things

1. Understand the task you are about to solve before starting to write a program about it. Work through methods and procedures by hand on paper etc. Plan some test cases. Identify cases that will represent boundaries or oddities. In general prepare a plan before you start going anywhere near a computer

2. Sketch the structure of the whole of your code out informally so you have full overview before fussing about exact syntax etc. Ensure you know what you expect that the computer will do. This initial sketch can be very informal, and may be in terms of diagrams rather than anything that looks much like real programming. The key word here is “structure”. This applies with way greater force when your code starts to grow: you should always design a good way to factor your code into reasonably self-contained and independent components (each will be one “class” in your code) right from the start;

3. Write out key parts of above in the form of comments before you start the real code. Concentrate in these comments on the “what” and “why” of your code rather the details of “how”. This will really help when you show your work to somebody else because you need help! I will explain this one again: The first thing you will type into a computer when you start writing any program will be a set of overview comments that explain its strategy and structure

4. At least for a first version of anything, favour clarity and obvious correctness over pretty well everything else. Clever tricks, worries about efficiency, generalisations etc can come later;

5. Neat consistent layout and thoughtfully named fields, methods, variables etc. are a good investment of your time. Cryptic is bad even if it saves keystrokes in the short term;

6. If a task is too big to solve in just one gulp look for ways of breaking it down into sub-tasks. As you do this think about ways you will be able to test code you write for each sub-task and work on the whole thing step by step;

7. When you try to compile your code and see a syntax error do not panic. Learn to interpret the compiler’s diagnostics. And only try to remove one error at a time: count it as a success if next time you try to compile the first error has give so you can then concentrate on the second;

8. When you have compiled your program and run it and it gives wrong answers or behaves badly do not panic. First work to understand what is wrong and only after you have found where the problem is think about ways to fit it. Do not just try random changes! Eg. confirm what your program actually does by adding assert and extra print statements;

9. Whenever you find you have to change your program review comments, consider if it will now do exactly what you want, and re-run all your test cases. Experience shows that changes (for whatever cause) can introduce new problems while you are in the process of fixing old ones;

10. If you find you are spending a seriously long time trying to make sense of anything then find help from friends or a supervisor or a book. Do not just keep building up your frustration not getting anywhere!

So why would you use Visual Studio Code in preference to Eclipse or NetBeans


1. Its Free

All students and educators get access to all version of Visual Studio, Visual Studio Online and Visual Studio Team Services via www.DreamSpark.com

2.Easier File Mapping

In Visual Studio, we can add a file from a path to a project located in a workspace, and Visual Studio records the reference to a new file and opens it like any other file. But, in Eclipse and Netbeans, the structure of a project’s elements must correspond to their layout in the underlying file system.

3. File Size & Download Speed – 3X Better

Eclipse is 166 MB to download for Java. Even more for the other versions! To download the Java EE version of NetBeans, it’s 186 MB. And it’s 205 MB for all four languages. Now compare that to Visual Studio Code, which is only 58 MB for all 34 languages! Imagine having to wait three times longer per download/install on each computer in your school! And then downloading and installing the new versions for each of those machines!

4. No Plugins for Other Languages

Unlike Eclipse, in Visual Studio Code, you don’t need a plugin to use other languages, like C#, F#, HTML5, Python, and Ruby. You can transition quickly to other languages!

5. Exposure to Other Languages – 8X More Languages

Java is important, but it should just be one language on the road to learning computer science! Eclipse only has Java (out of the box), and NetBeans only has 4 languages out of the box (Java, C++, HTML5, and PHP). But Visual Studio Code includes 34 languages out of the box! (Java, C#, C++, HTML5, PHP, VB, CSS, XML, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Go, Perl, R, SQL, JSON, F#, PowerShell, and more!) And if it doesn’t have your language, it’s far easier to add it into Visual Studio Code than the other IDEs!

6. Easy to Deploy to App Stores

Visual Studio gives you a simple interface to publish your game or application in an app store! The biggest and best validation (and way to push improvement in your app) is when others like your work, people download it, and people use it. That includes deploying to Windows Store, Amazon, iOS, and Google Play!

7. VS Code Gets Git

Do you ever feel like someone doesn’t get you? Well, VS Code gets you by getting how you need Git We’re talking full Git Support: Commits, Diffs, Pulls, Pushes, Status Bar Actions, Branches, Tags, Handling Merge Conflicts, Remotes, Credentials, and more! Get the Git details here: Visual Studio Code  – All the Git Features



Languages Out of the Box

  • Eclipse: 1 (Java)
  • NetBeans: 4 (C++, HTML5, Java, PHP)
  • Visual Studio Code: 34 (Batch, C#, C++, Clojure, CoffeeScript, CSS, DockerFile, F#, Go, HandleBars, HTML5, Ini, Jade, Java, JavaScript, JSON, Less, Lua, Makefile, Markdown, Objective-C, Perl, PHP, PowerShell, Python, R, Razor, Ruby, Rust, Sass, SQL, TypeScript, Visual Basic, XML)

File Size

  • Eclipse: At least 166 MB
  • Netbeans: 205 MB
  • Visual Studio Code: 58 MB
Comments (8)

  1. It would be great to know how to configure Visual Studio Code for building Java files (i.e. running javac). Haven’t found that info yet.

    1. Neil Lindberg says:

      That’s exactly how I ended up here. While I am really liking VSC (and the default color scheme) I cannot seem to click-through to class definitions, even though they’re seemingly accessible on the context menu. I feel like running a [Maven] build would help. I’ve never used VS pre-Code, but in searching for an answer I found the older MVS had build abilities (Ant and Maven too). But, nothing here, on this page, is helping me progress in my goals. :/ May have to Eclipse.

    2. Dafty says:

      You can run Task execution

  2. Lee Stott says:

    Hi there are number of extensions now available to VS Code see https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/vscode/Languages?sortBy=Downloads Some specific ones being built to support Java are available via the Visual Studio MarketPlace as extensions https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/search?term=Java&target=VSCode&sortBy=Relevance

    1. Andrew says:

      How is downloading an extension for Visual Studio Code any different to downloading a plugin for eclipse? Claiming that Visual Studio Code supports 34 languages out of the box doesn’t seem to be entirely accurate, considering you need to download an extension to run most of them.

      1. I think the answer is there is no difference.

        So then let’s compare another point…

        File Size & Download Speed – 3X Better

        Eclipse is 166 MB to download for Java. Even more for the other versions! To download the Java EE version of NetBeans, it’s 186 MB. And it’s 205 MB for all four languages. Now compare that to Visual Studio Code, which is only 58 MB for all 34 languages! Imagine having to wait three times longer per download/install on each computer in your school! And then downloading and installing the new versions for each of those machines!

  3. nicviac says:

    There are some mistakes in this article, for example Netbeans also support these languages (full edition) out of the box:
    Javascript,JSON,XML,YAML,CSS,Groovy,SQL,Dockerfile. Also someone would ask what the language support means. Is it simple syntax highlighting or code completions or …? When I read this article I remembered some Microsoft rants about Linux, there also was sometimes truth, sometimes half-truth and sometimes just clear lie.

    1. Good to know. I think that’s my fault. I was pulling from Wikipedia and didn’t see what you wrote: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetBeans

      So, no lies from Microsoft. Just thought Wikipedia was accurate. Silly me.

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