Visual Studio: Community, Professional, or Enterprise?

Hermione at Pangea.ai
Mayank Wadhwa
Published: 28.10.2022

Visual Studio is hands down one of the best integrated development environments (IDE) out there, supporting 36+ programming languages and allowing developers to write, edit, debug their code, and craft websites, computer programs, mobile, and desktop applications, and even games. It has everything developers need (mostly web, JavaScript, and .Net) to build and release a complete application from scratch.

However, Visual Studio offers three different plans: Community, Professional, and Enterprise. Which one should you choose to make the most out of Visual Studio? If that's the question putting you in a dilemma, this blog can help. Here we'll list the features each plan offers in detail, along with a tabular differentiation for better understanding in the end. Read through the information to choose the one that meets your needs the best!

What is Visual Studio?

On a purple background there's a windows logo along with text saying

Crafted by Microsoft itself, Visual Studio is an IDE or integrated development environment that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s open source, lightweight, and comes with a code debugger, editor, database schema designer, and GUI design tools and supports several major programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, C, C++, C#, Visual Basics, and more.

Visual Studio: Community Vs. Professional Vs. Enterprise, Compared 

Visual Studio Community

The Visual Studio Community version is a free IDE that comes with numerous features required for creating applications for iOS, Android, Windows, and even the web & cloud. Here are some features it offers:

Powerful Coding Tools: The Visual Studio Community plan allows your developers to write code in whatever programming language they're comfortable with. Also, they can fix code issues and refactor the code conveniently. With this plan, your team can write code, navigate, rectify or fix the issues.

Cloud-Connected: The tool itself is cloud-connected. It means developers can communicate, collaborate, and stay updated without having to leave the editor. Also, developers can use built-in and downloaded features to code more efficiently.

Debugging: Even the most basic version of Visual Studio comes with advanced debugging. Your developers can quickly spot and fix bugs. Also, the profiling tools help find performance issues and diagnose the same, making the jobs of developers easy.

Cross-Platform App Development: Visual Studio Community comes with several tools for Unity and Xamarin using which developers can write code, debug, test, and reuse the same for different platforms. This means the community version allows you to develop cross-platform applications.  

Web Tools: Using Visual Studio Community, developers (JavaScript, Python, Node.js, ASP.NET, etc) can create and deploy the latest web applications. Also, frameworks such as Backbone.js, Django, Bootstrap, jQuery, and Angular JS make web development even easier.

Version Control Integration: The Community plan allows developers to use Git for code collaboration from within the IDE. With the Git menu, your team can find new repositories from either Azure DevOps or GitHub. Also, committing the code, pushing changes, syncing the code with your repositories, and resolving merge conflicts becomes easy.

Free Tools and Resources: With the Visual Studio Community plan, you'll get access to a range of developer tools, Azure credits, Pluralsight training, and Xamarin University courses, along with several other perks that'll make your developers' lives easy.

Visual Studio Professional

Visual Studio Professional is a paid plan that costs around $45 a month and comes with a basic Azure DevOps plan. It's best for professionals for both individual developers and small teams who seek professional developer services and tools:

Understand the Code Better: With Visual Studio Professional, your developers can understand the code easily, which results in better productivity. It comes with CodeLens, a tool that helps your team say focused while showing changes to the code, code references, whether the tests are passing, who tweaked the methods, etc., right from the code editor.

Boosts your Mobile App Development Team: Visual Studio Professional allows you to boost your mobile app development team with unrestricted code sharing and debugging. Your team can create native iOS, Windows, and Android apps using native UI, Native APIs, etc.

Cross-Platform App Development: Similar to the Community version, Visual Studio Professional allows you to develop cross-platform apps for PC, mobile, web, and cloud on a single platform.

Cloud-Connected and Collaboration: Visual Studio Professional plan allows your developers to collaborate using built-in features. It comes with an Azure DevOps subscription that helps plan, create and deliver applications faster.

Tools and Resources: The Professional plan offers you access to core Microsoft tools for testing and development, educational courses, professional support, collaboration tools, and Monthly Azure credits.

Visual Studio Enterprise 

Visual Studio Enterprise is by far the most feature-rich and expensive plan that costs $250 a month and comes with Azure DevOps basic and test plan. It's great for teams of any size who wish to develop complex applications for any platform.

With Visual Studio Enterprise, you can do everything previous plans can, along with several things that are specific to this version, such as:

Boost Productivity with Advanced Level Testing: Visual Studio Enterprise enables development teams to craft modern applications by allowing them to focus more on writing code and not debugging. Here are some tools it comes with:

  • IntelliTest: This feature helps generate smart test data along with unit tests using which developers can test their code.
  • Live Dependency Validation: Developers can check in real time if the code complies with the architectural dependency rules.
  • Live Unit Testing: As your developers write new code, live unit testing helps automatically launch unit tests and display the results along with code coverage.

Advanced Debugging and Diagnostics: The Enterprise version comes with advanced debugging tools that make finding and resolving bugs a piece of the cake. Here are some helpful tools, for instance:

  • IntelliTrace: helps debug issues that are difficult to reproduce, saving time.
  • Code Map: helps visually debug apps to understand dependencies better.
  • Snapshot Debugger: helps make debugging easier for cloud apps.  
  • Xamarin Inspector: helps test and debug mobile app designs in real time.
  • Xamarin Profiler: helps leverage profiling data to improve mobile app performance.

Enterprise DevOps: The Enterprise version comes with an Azure DevOps subscription, that helps easily maintain your toolset. You'll get a complete toolchain from source code control and agile planning to test automation and automated CI/CD pipelines.

Extend your Tool Chain: The Azure DevOps also allows you to extend or tweak your toolchain as you like. Some tools you can add to your toolchain can be:

  • Cloud Pilot: It helps identify the changes in the code for a successful migration to SQL Azure, VM, or app services.
  • Parasoft: It helps automate API testing.
  • WhiteSource Bolt: it helps manage the usage of open-source libraries within the project.

So, Which One Should You Choose?

There's a tabular differentiation of all Visual Studio plans viz. Community, Professional and Enterprise.

Source

As you may notice in the table above, the Visual Studio Community and Professional plan share a lot of features. And to your surprise, there isn't a significant difference between these two plans apart from the pricing and usage.

The Community plan is free, while the Professional costs $45 a month. Individual developers, any number of users in a classroom learning environment, and up to 5 users in an enterprise organization can use the Community plan. Enterprise organizations with over 250 PCs or revenue of more than $1 million a year cannot use the free version. On the other hand, anyone from an individual to a large development team can use Visual Studio Professional. Apart from this, both Visual Studio Community and Professional are identical.

However, the Enterprise version offers numerous unique features that other plans lack. For instance, you'll get advanced debugging and diagnostic tools, better testing tools, the ability to extend your toolchain, test automation, automated CI/CD pipelines, universal deployment, cloud collaboration, and whatnot.

So, if you're an individual developer, you can go for Visual Studio Community. And if you're an organization with over 250 PCs or revenue of more than USD 1 million per year, you must opt for the professional version to meet your development needs.

However, if you need advanced and more comprehensive tools for designing, building, and deploying complex applications, Visual Studio Enterprise is what you need. It costs $250 a month, though.

FAQs:

Q1. Is MSDN worth the subscription?

Visual Studio (formerly MSDN) is worth a subscription if you're a developer or lead an app or web development team. This subscription, regardless of the plan you choose, comes with a suite of tools and services that enable developers to craft complex applications for any platform. However, to make the most of Visual Studio Subscriptions, you need to choose the right plan based on what your requirements are.

 Q2. Is a Visual Studio subscription free?

Yes, and no; there are both free and paid versions available. Visual Studio Community plan is free to access. An individual developer, any number of individuals within a learning institution or non-enterprise organizations with revenue of less than $1 million and PCs less than 250 can use it for free. Visual Studio also has paid subscriptions; Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Enterprise. The Professional subscription costs $45 a month, and the Enterprise subscription costs $250 a month. Latter comes with numerous advanced features and benefits that the former lacks.

 Q3. What is the difference between MSDN and Visual Studio?

MSDN stands for Microsoft Developer Network, which offered developers access to cloud services, support teams, developer tools, software, and training material to help them build complete and fully functional applications.

However, Microsoft has renamed MSDN to Visual Studio Subscriptions. It contains all the features that used to come with MSDN enabling developers to develop applications for any platform with the help of Visual Studio, which is an interactive development environment.

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