Table of contents
There’s a multitude of code editors on the market – some are simpler, others more complex.
There are two options; however, they certainly get mentioned more often than others and are considered some of the best: Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code.
Which of them is better for you?
Read our Sublime vs Visual Studio Code analysis and find the answer to this question. Quick side-node, we've also done articles comparing Visual Studio Code vs Atom and Visual Studio Code vs Visual Studio, check them out.
The difference between a good and bad software engineer can be one that decides whether a project turns out great or is bogged down by problems and issues.
In the end, it usually comes down to the given person’s creativity, the extensiveness of their knowledge, and also the sheer experience they have with various languages, frameworks, and technologies available on the market.
However, there’s one more factor that matters, and that’s the choice of a toolset. We’re all humans, after all.
We make errors, have imperfect memories, and limited perception.
We need all the help we can get when dealing with complex challenges, and software development certainly falls into that category.
So here’s our detailed Sublime vs Visual Studio Code comparison.
Sublime vs VSCode – why is this choice important?
The main reason is pretty simple – it’s the tool you’ll spend the most time with as a software developer, so it stands to reason it should fit your needs as best as it can, right?
The available features, the way the interface is designed, the extensions, plugins, keyboard shortcuts – all of these things can have a pretty massive impact on your development flow.
The code editors available on the market differ substantially and are often created per different design philosophies.
Some are meant to make the software engineer’s work easier with various functions and additions.
Others are minimalistic and have a narrower feature set to help you focus on what’s really important – the code itself. Neither of these approaches is wrong, really – it’s just a matter of preference and priorities.
How did we evaluate these programming text editors?
The main goal of this article is to provide the readers with all the information they might need to make an informed choice between Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code.
We’re not trying to point out either of these solutions as the “winner” because the option of a code editor is a very subjective one, and each user has their own standpoint on the matter.
We’ll start by providing you with descriptions of both tools, along with a general overview a list of their most important features, pros, and cons.
We’ll also list the opinions of some of the users – one positive and one negative, or at least not overly enthusiastic – found on the well-known Capterra platform, along with the average score both of our compared solutions currently have there.
We’ll prioritize reviews that aren’t too old so that you have an idea about the current state of each code editor.
Finally, we’ll compare both options and try to point out the possible target groups and best use cases for each of them.
Visual Studio Code vs Sublime Text
Sublime Text entered the market in 2008, but the first glimpses of this code editor were presented a bit earlier, in November 2007.
The solution was created by Jon Skinner, who previously worked at Google.
The developer decided to leave that company to concentrate on a dream of his, which was to create a next-generation code editor that would fix many of the problems encountered in technologies he knew.
The core tenets – so to speak – of Sublime Text were pretty simple. Skinner wanted to create a program that would be unobtrusive and concentrate on text instead of various additional dialogue screens. The editor was to have a simple yet elegant design and interface, highlighting important details without becoming heavy and clunky. Using all the available screen space to make work as efficient as it can possibly be was also very important to the solution’s creator.
These core ideas are still visible in the current fourth iteration of the technology, despite nearly 15 years of its existence on the market. It’s a lightweight solution that concentrates on being “just” a code editor instead of offering a ton of features that might be not be needed by many of its users.
How much does Sublime Text cost?
The cost of a license for individual users is $99. However, you can try Sublime Text out for free (and the trial technically doesn’t have a time limit).
Sublime Text works on
You can use Sublime Text on computers running the three most popular operating systems: Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Sublime Text support
Sublime Text features
- Support for most programming languages
- Package control
- Command palette
- “Go to” functionality
Sublime Text pros
- Very fast and light-weight (some software developers even consider it to be the fastest code editor ever created)
- Relative simplicity makes it easy to use
- Projects help you organize folders and files
- Powerful search options
Sublime Text cons
- Can’t be used as a full-featured IDE
- Not a free product – you have to buy a license to use it continuously
Sublime Text review
Sublime Text has a 4.7 rating on Capterra (based on 936 reviews).
“I absolutely love Sublime Text! It is by far the best text editor I have ever used. It is incredibly fast, lightweight, and feature-rich. It has everything I need to write code quickly and efficiently. The thing I like most about Sublime Text is the vast amount of plugins that are available for it. This allows me to do everything from code editing to managing my projects to even creating websites. As far as cons go, there wasn't anything I particularly disliked about Sublime Text, but if I had to choose something it would be that it doesn't have a built-in spell check feature “– anonymous verified reviewer.
“Sublime Text worked well. I appreciated it. I just found another program that I preferred because it did a lot more, and did the things that Sublime Text did, better. I didn't shift away from Sublime Text so much as shifting towards the alternative. In the future I wouldn't be averse to trying new versions of Sublime Text, assuming that they keep developing their product. I have good opinions of the program overall. Sublime Text is a good, robust text editor. It makes coding much easier - well, it makes editing code much easier! The coding is about the same. The ability to have multiple cursors, search and edit multiple occurrences of the same characters, etc, was great. Colour differentiation for different elements was also a good feature. What I liked least about Sublime Text was, I guess, that another, competing program accomplished the same functions, plus had additional capabilities. This isn't a strike against Sublime Text, except in comparing and contrasting” – anonymous verified reviewer.
Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is a solution created by one of the giants of the IT world – Microsoft. It’s actually something of a newcomer on the code editor market – its source code was first made available on GitHub in 2015, which was then followed by a full release in 2016.
Young age doesn’t stop it from being incredibly popular. However – it’s consequently named the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) of choice in the yearly Stack Overflow Surveys, starting with the one from 2018 until the last one from 2021.
The solution’s dominance over the alternatives is only getting more evident with each passing year.
To be honest, it’s easy to see why Visual Code Studio became so popular in recent years.
The sheer amount of features and customization options is quite staggering. If you’re looking for a full-fledged IDE, there’s very little VSC won’t be able to offer you.
However, all of this comes at a specific price – and not monetary (because the solution is entirely free to use).
Depending on what you do with it, Visual Code Studio can get a bit heavy on the resources, and it’s certainly not the fastest of code editors.
How much does Visual Studio Code cost?
Visual Studio Code is a free product (it’s an open-source project).
Visual Studio Code works on
It works on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
Visual Studio Code support
Visual Studio Code features
- Support for various languages
- Smart code completion (IntelliSense)
- Syntax highlighting
- Zen Mode helps you focus by removing distractions (menus, interface elements etc.)
- Git integration
- Bug Tracking
- Build Automation
- Change Management
- Code Review
- Version Control
- “Go to” functionality
- Built-in terminal
Visual Studio Code pros
- It’s free (really, there are no catches)
- You can test code (debug) directly in the editor, so it’s a full-featured IDE…
- …but it can also be used “just” as a code editor
- Highly customizable thanks to the extension marketplace
- Extensive support offered by one of the largest companies in the world
Visual Studio Code cons
- It’s not the fastest or most efficient text editor by any stretch of the imagination
- Some of the features might not be necessary for experienced developers
Visual Studio Code reviews
Visual Studio Code has a 4.8 rating on Capterra (based on 1063 reviews).
“Overall, I'm sticking with VSCode in the long run. I've used other text editors such as Notepad++ and Sublime Text, but VSCode is by far the best. Its UI is more polished and is packed with features in the form of extensions, which makes it a very versatile tool, no matter what programming language or framework you develop in. It's very easy to use and is compatible with a wide variety of programming languages. It has a lot of plugins, ranging from linting, UI customization, and even DB clients. It's a very powerful text editor - it has a big community, which makes it easy to troubleshoot or find shortcuts to do things faster. Visual Studio Code comes with a debugger included, and it can be used in Windows and UNIX-based systems. It also lets you use the console from within the text editor. However, it can take up a significant amount of computer resources, the source code control tab could be more intuitive, and it takes some effort to customize the UI to your liking” – anonymous verified reviewer.
“The finished products barely function. They lag horribly, crash frequently, bog your system down, don't integrate smoothly with other programs, and are just not at all user-friendly. You click one button, and it works, forms reset, everything is clean. Click another with the same code format, and it may function or it may partially function and crash the whole program every single time you click it. It's inherently messy code, slow, way too big, and barely functional. Pros? It's easy to build software quickly. Any high school dropout can learn Visual Basic/Visual Studio in an afternoon” – Flynn H.
Sublime vs Visual Studio Code – which is the better code editor?
|On the market since||Price||Code-editor/IDE||Support|
|Sublime Text||2008||Free for evaluation, license for individual users costs $99||Code-editor||Documentation, forum, blog, e-mail|
|Visual Studio Code||2015||Free||IDE||Documentation, guide, blog, FAQ, e-mail, phone|
There’s no easy way to answer this question because each of these solutions is aimed at a somewhat different target audience. Let’s try to summarize and draw some conclusions.
Sublime Text is a great option for developers looking for “just” a code editor.
It’s very fast, easy to use, and gives you much control over your work. You can quickly find the things you need, highlight important details and move through your code easily.
The program isn’t loaded with features and functions beyond that, but it’s not necessarily a flaw – in fact, it might be an advantage for some of the more experienced programmers, who often don’t need such things and see them as useless bloat.
However, keep in mind that Sublime Text doesn’t give you the option to debug code, so you’ll have to find other ways to do that.
Nonetheless, it’s an excellent choice for people who want to focus on coding and don’t need any distractions while they do that.
Because of its relative simplicity, the tool is relatively easy to learn and use, but despite that, it will work best in the hands of an experienced software engineer.
It’s a solid choice, well worth the price – because it’s worth remembering that despite the very generous trial plan, Sublime Text isn’t a free solution.
On the other hand, Visual Studio Code can cover all of your programming needs – both when it comes to coding itself and testing (debugging) whatever you’ve created.
The technology also has enough flexibility and modern features to fit almost any software development scenario.
It also provides powerful IntelliSense smart completion features, which can be a big help for some users.
You could say it’s the “swiss knife” of code editing software – one solution that covers everything you might need in most typical situations.
Last but not least, VSC is completely free to use and supported by Microsoft, which bodes very well for its stability and position on the market.
One of the results of that is the extensive documentation and a wealth of detailed onboarding materials, which should make learning this tool a breeze for most programmers.
What Visual Studio is not, however, is a simple and lightweight code editor. It can be used in this capacity, but Sublime Text is the more optimal choice for such a scenario.
Despite that, VSC can be used to great effect by most software developers, as long as they don’t mind additional (often not necessary) options and sometimes sub-optimal speed.
Choose your code editor wisely!
The choice of a code editor can have a serious impact on the efficiency and speed of your work, which means it’s obviously of paramount importance.
In general, it’s a good idea to test various solutions and check what “ticks” for you and what maybe isn’t the best option.
An extensive list of features and functions means little if the actual experience of using the editor just doesn’t sit right with you.
The differences between Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code are big enough that it’s pretty apparent both products were created with a somewhat different aim in mind.
This also means that choosing one or the other should be a relatively simple matter, as long as you know what you really need.
Simplicity or complexity? IDE or a standalone code editor? Clear interface designed to let you focus and code faster, or an abundance of features for different situations? It comes down to personal preferences.
In the end, you really can’t go wrong with either of them – both are flexible, well-designed solutions that are well-liked in the community.