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Would C# be as popular without Visual Studio?

I recently been pondering whether C# would be used a widely as it is if Visual Studio didn’t exist. Obviously it is a hypothetical question, but as a language it is very tightly coupled to VS, and even ReSharper to an extent, it’s more tied to a particular IDE then any other language I can think of.


When employers are looking to hire new C# developers they frequently mention use of Visual Studio as a required skill, some may even specify a version, like 2015. Often part of your ability as a C# developer is judged by your knowledge of VS itself and the tools it provides. This would be quite strange in other languages, I’m pretty certain most JavaScript developers use whatever they want, Sublime Text, Atom, WebStorm, Brackets or now Visual Studio Code, and I imagine this is the same for other languages too.


All of that said C# is being used cross platform in MonoDevelop, and is a popular language for Unity, so I’m sure it would still be commonly used without VS existing, but just not as widely in the corporate world. There is something satisfying about going to MSDN, downloading the latest Visual Studio and having all the tools you need to start creating and debugging code. I expect though that a lot of developers will then end up installing ReSharper, and various other plugins from VS, or SDKs from Web Platform Installer.


What makes this more pertinent is that JetBrains announced this week at NDC London that they are to release a cross platform .Net IDE, Rider. This could mean a genuine choice for developers, especially as the ReSharper commands will be available as part of the IDE. Could corporate developers start to use this, may we see jobs in the future where Visual Studio isn’t provided and Rider is the default? These are interesting questions and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.


I’m certainly going to try Rider out, see if I can run it on my MacBook Air and be able to get some work done with it, I’m sure many others will too. This video from NDC is well worth a watch if you want to find out more about Rider.
If you have any comments or discussion points then please let me know.

One Comment

  1. Yes. C# is a great language and Anders Hejlsberg is a very respected language architect.

    Maybe the question is better phrased “Would .Net be as popular without Visual Studio” because C# is a pretty common C-like syntax that anyone can pick up if they’re from JavaScript/Java/C/ObjectiveC background, however it can take years to learn the .Net namespace and Microsoft are always moving stuff around.

    For example: out of the box, there’s a JSON parser, yet everyone installs Newtonsoft.json. Why?

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