Microsoft open-sources Visual Studio Code extension for Arduino

For the past few years or so, Microsoft has been embracing open-source software. Open-sourcing PowerShell, MSBuild, and its artificial intelligence framework CNTK are just a few examples of the company's endeavors in the open-source scene. In fact, the company made quite a lot of waves back in 2015, when it announced that open-sourcing Windows is "definitely possible".

While the firm isn't looking to make its flagship piece of software open-source just yet, it has now given the Visual Studio Code extension for Arduino this treatment.

Visual Studio Code is a cross-platform, lightweight code editor that developers can use to do basic tasks from any machine running Windows, a Linux distribution, or macOS. The software was introduced at Microsoft's 2015 Build conference.

The Visual Studio Code extension for Arduino was developed by the Visual Studio IoT Tooling team after interviews with numerous developers, and discussing inconveniences they face when developing IoT applications. As such, the design of the extension stems from the official Arduino integrated development environment (IDE) so current Arduino developers can feel comfortable with it. In addition, it packs several noteworthy features such as:

  • IntelliSense and syntax highlighting for Arduino sketches
  • Verify and upload your sketches in Visual Studio Code
  • Built-in board and library manager
  • Built-in example list
  • Built-in serial monitor
  • Snippets for sketches
  • Automatic Arduino project scaffolding
  • Command Palette (F1) integration of frequently used commands (e.g. Verify, Upload…)
  • Integrated Arduino Debugging

Microsoft has cautioned that in order to utilize the extension, developers need to install Arduino IDE version 1.6.x or higher. However, it does note that the Windows Store version of the IDE is currently incompatible because of its sandbox-like nature.

The company has encouraged developers to download the Visual Studio Code extension for Arduino from its dedicated marketplace and to actively participate in its development on GitHub here.

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