Visual Studio Light Edition

I noticed this blog post from Scott Hanselman the other day about Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop. This post included a screenshot from the installation program. Something that really took me by the throat is this:


Notice that the Express edition of Visual Studio seems to require no less than 4.15 GB of hard disk space! So I decided to try out the Professional edition of Visual Studio just to find out that it needs 7.56 GB to install!


Ask yourself, how on earth can an IDE that requires 7.56 GB to install be fast enough to even be usable at all? What kind of monster machine is required to not even choke to death when I accidentally open a second instance of Visual Studio? We’ve all seen those dreadful white screens of death, right?

Yes, I know that we’re living in 2012 and that disk space is very cheap. Yes, I know that RAM memory grow on trees these days and that CPU power is growing increasingly. But is this kind of footprint justified for an IDE that proclaims productivity? Or is it just me?

After recovering from my amazement I tried installing SharpDevelop, an open-source IDE for building .NET applications.


SharpDevelop seems to be more than happy with just a mere 64 Mb of storage. I tried opening a large solution and it loads pretty darn fast. So, I should just shut up and go with SharpDevelop then? See, this is where I have to admit that I have a slight problem.

See, I depend heavily on Resharper for doing C# development. This amazing code-by-keystrokes tool is both a blessing and a curse. Any serious developer who builds .NET applications has to admit that whipping up some C# code without a tool like Resharper is incredibly painful, to say the least. This tool is truly a blessing and this is why I can’t go with SharpDevelop as my IDE of choice when building application for the .NET platform. But on the other hand, Resharper is not a stand-alone tool as it needs Visual Studio to host it. To me, this is a curse.

Visual Studio 2012 in it’s current form has become too heavily packed with features, which I don’t use anyway, so that’s it’s no longer usable for me to host Resharper. I’m no longer willing to make that tradeoff. I tried using Visual Studio 2012 with Resharper, but I turned back to Visual Studio 2010 after a short while. From a performance point of view, Visual Studio 2010 isn’t running great either. So I guess this is just a necessary evil that I have to overcome for building .NET 4.0 applications.

I understand that Microsoft’s business model is building platforms and tools for the world to use. It’s a business like any other business, focused on earning money. There’s nothing wrong with that. This is why Anders is so keen on statically typed languages, because they require more tooling and tooling is what brings in the money for his division. It’s as simple as that.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad! What if the Visual Studio development team would come up with a stripped down version of Visual Studio? Think about how awesome this could be. What should be in the box? Just the basics! The code editor, the solution explorer, the debugger and the ability to host add-ons. No designers, no SQL Server integration, no TFS integration, etc. … Just the most basic features. That’s it! The installation footprint should be no more than 500 Mb, ideally only 100Mb. Wouldn’t that be awesome? This would be would actually solve my current development needs!

I hereby tag my fellow Elegant Coder David Starr, who recently joined the Visual Studio team at Microsoft. You can do it David!  The best is yet to come!

So I’m eagerly awaiting the next release cycle of Visual Studio in order to see whether I’m up for a treat ;-).

Until next time.

Published by

Jan Van Ryswyck

Hi, thank you for visiting my blog and reading all the crap that I'm posting here. I'm a senior software engineer at SD WORX. Developing software is one of my greatest passions in life, and I enjoy doing it every single day. I've got three kids (Len, Lisa & Laura) who constantly remind me that there is more in life than just programming all day. They are the greatest kids in the whole world. And last but not least, there's my girlfriend who is my inspiration in life. You can always contact me at jan_dot_van_dot_ryswyck at

39 thoughts on “Visual Studio Light Edition”

  1. I would love a cut down version of Visual Studio. But…

    “I’m no longer willing to make that tradeoff. I tried using Visual Studio
    2012 with Resharper, but I turned back to Visual Studio 2010 after a
    short while.”

    Visual Studio 2012 is significantly faster than 2010. I don’t understand why you’d choose 2010 for performance reasons.

  2. Ok…So Visual Studio Express 2012 is “smaller” than full-up Visual Studio 2012?

    So what?

    What happens when you install both Visual Studio Express 2012 and Web Developer? Doesn’t that bring them closer to parity? My Visual Studio 2010 has the usual tools: C#, VB, F# _and_ web development tools. My Visual Studio 2010 Express had a separate install for C# and for the Web tools…does that not hold for Visual Studio 2012 Express as well? Just saying….

  3. I see no any reason to compare products BY SIZE. What’s “size” in PC at all? Just measure “can it fit my flash?”. From program POV is that DLL 1MB or 2MB – who cares? Second, SD is just an enthusiastic toy – it never was SOLD. Try yourself to sell product for $1000, which occupies 10MB! :)) Just a market.

  4. I must side with many others here – VS2012 is BY FAR faster than VS2010, and it looks BY FAR better too. You can stay on 2010, or even 2008 if you wish, but you will harm only yourself – no one else will even notice.

  5. Does sharp develop have intellitrace – Real time stepping through every method, in production? Didn’t think so. Oh and HDD space is infinite these days, who cares, really. The RAM footprint should be more the concern.

  6. While I am flattered that some of these comments seem to think I have any kind of influence over something like this, let’s be clear. I DO NOT.

    I am not in any position to do anything about what concerns Jan.

    That said, I now understand the root cause and am trying to decide how to write about it without getting fired 🙂

    1. In my experience, I seem to require less tooling when programming dynamic languages than static languages. What I mean is that I have the feeling that I don’t miss any tooling (I’m using Sublime) when I’m writing code in a dynamic language and when I’m using static languages I never seem to have enough tooling.

  7. And another thing: writing in C# is not painful it’s awesome. Its just happens that R# makes it even more awesome.

Comments are closed.