A text editor is by far the most used developer tool regardless of what type of developer you are. A good text editor can help you write better code with real-time code checking, syntax highlighting, and automatic formatting.

Why can’t I use Microsoft Word?

Rich text editors, such as Microsoft Word and Libre-Office Writer, are great for writing a paper, but the features that make them good at creating nicely formatted documents make them unsuitable for writing code. A document created with these rich text editors has more than just text embedded in the file. These files also contain information on how to display the text on the screen and data on how to display graphics embedded into the document. In contrast, plain text editors, such as VSCode and Sublime, don’t save any additional information. Saving only the text allows other programs, like Ruby’s interpreter, to read and execute the file as code.

Code editors

You can think of code editors as specialized web development tools. They are highly customizable and offer many features that will make your life easier. There is nothing worse than spending 2 hours trying to figure out why your program isn’t working only to realize that you missed a closing bracket. Plugins, syntax highlighting, auto-closing of brackets and braces, and linting are just a few of the benefits of using a code editor. There are many text editors out there to choose from, but we suggest starting with Visual Studio Code.

Visual Studio Code, or just VSCode as it’s commonly referred to, is an excellent free code editor. It has outstanding add-on support and great Git integration. VSCode is the most popular code editor among Odin’s students and moderators, so support is easy to find in the community.

Which editor you use is generally a matter of preference, but for the purposes of this course, we are going to assume you’re using VSCode, mainly because it’s free, it’s easy to use, and it works pretty much the same on every operating system. Keep in mind that this means you will not be able to get help if you are using a different text editor other than VSCode for the curriculum.

As a reminder, if you’re using a virtual machine, you should install VSCode on your VM. You’re welcome to also install it on your host (i.e., your Windows main OS), but you’ll want to be sure that you have this critical tool inside your VM.

VSCode installation

Choose your Operating System:


Step 1: Download VSCode

  • Open your Terminal.
  • Run the following command to download the latest VSCode .deb package:
wget -O code-latest.deb ''

Step 2: Install VSCode

  • Enter the following command in your terminal to install the VSCode .deb package:
sudo apt install ./code-latest.deb
  • If prompted, enter your password.

A note on typing passwords in the terminal

When using a command in the terminal that requires you to enter your password for authentication (such as sudo), you will notice that the characters aren’t visible as you type them. While it might seem like the terminal isn’t responding, don’t worry!

This is a security feature to protect confidential information, like how password fields on websites use asterisks or dots. By not displaying the characters you write, the terminal keeps your password secure.

You can still enter your password as normal and press Enter to submit it.

You might see a notice starting with N: Download is performed unsandboxed (...). You don’t need to worry about it. You can read a Reddit post for more information.

Step 3: Delete the installer file

rm code-latest.deb

Step 4: Using VSCode

You can start VSCode in two ways,

  • Click Visual Studio Code from the Applications menu.
  • Or, use the code command from the terminal.

Step 1: Download VSCode

Step 2: Install VSCode

  • Open the Downloads folder.
  • Double click the file
  • Drag the Visual Studio icon to the Applications folder icon.

Step 3: Delete the installer file

  • Open Finder.
  • Go to the Downloads folder.
  • Drag to the trash.

Step 4: Using VSCode

  • Go to your Applications folder.
  • Double click Visual Studio Code.

Step 1: Install VSCode

Step 2: Delete the installer file

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Go to the Downloads folder.
  • Drag VSCodeUserSetup-{version}.exe to the trash.

Step 3: Install WSL Extension

  • Open Visual Studio Code.
  • Navigate to the extensions tab.
  • Find and install the WSL extension.

Step 4: Ensure that WSL2 can correctly open VSCode

  • Open a new WSL2 terminal.
  • Run the following command to open a new VSCode window.

  • After a few moments a new VSCode window should open, and VSCode should provide a notification that its opening in WSL2.


  1. Familiarizing yourself with VSCode will allow you to save time and become more productive. By watching this VSCode Tutorial for Beginners video, you’ll get an idea of all the features VSCode has to offer. Don’t worry about actually coding along, just watch for the way that VSCode is used throughout the video.

Additional resources

This section contains helpful links to related content. It isn’t required, so consider it supplemental.

  • VSCode docs are a great place to refer to for any of your queries related to VSCode.
  • These handy little PDFs on VSCode’s shortcuts for linux and shortcuts for macOS are a great resource to help make your VSCode experience smoother and more efficient.

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