PyCharm vs. VS Code: What’s the Difference?

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PyCharm vs. VS Code: What’s the Difference?

Key Points

  • PyCharm is a robust IDE specifically designed for Python development, offering extensive support for Python-specific features, libraries, and frameworks.
  • VS Code is a highly versatile and lightweight IDE with an intuitive user interface, offering customizable layouts and countless extensions for enhanced functionality.
  • PyCharm comes in two editions: Professional and Community, while VS Code is available as a single free and open-source version.
  • VS Code is known for its lightweight design and minimal system resource consumption, while PyCharm can be resource-intensive when handling extensive projects.

If you’re a Python developer (or a new one at that), you probably already know that there are a lot of great Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) to choose from. Among the many options, PyCharm and VS Code are two popular choices.

Both IDEs sure have a lot to offer, so it can be tough to decide which one’s right for you, especially if you’re new to the world of programming. That’s why we’ve put together this comparative guide, looking at PyCharm and VS Code side-by-side to help you settle for the one that’s best for you.

Let’s get started!

PyCharm vs. VS Code: An Overview of the IDEs

When we say PyCharm and VS Code are integrated development environments, we mean they provide developers with a comprehensive set of tools and features to facilitate the coding process. An IDE is way more than a code editor — it’s a platform upon which you can build and execute your code efficiently, with features designed to streamline development tasks. It understands your coding nuances, anticipates your needs, and overall increases your productivity. 

Both PyCharm and VS Code offer IDE core functionalities such as code editing, debugging, version control integration, language-specific support, and sometimes, even code compilation. PyCharm, developed by JetBrains, is a robust IDE specifically designed for Python development. It excels in providing a seamless coding experience for Python programmers, offering extensive support for Python-specific features, libraries, and frameworks. 

PyCharm’s rich feature set includes intelligent code completion, code analysis, refactoring tools, testing framework integration, and advanced debugging capabilities. It also provides specialized support for web frameworks like Django and Flask, making it a go-to choice for Python web developers.

Meanwhile, VS Code, developed by Microsoft, is a highly versatile and lightweight IDE with an intuitive user interface that can be tailored to one’s individual needs. It offers customizable layouts as well as countless extensions from its vast marketplace for enhanced functionality. It’s this adaptability that makes VS Code a great choice for developers who want to customize their coding environment or add specific features based on their programming requirements.

Despite not having the same level of Python support in comparison to PyCharm, it still provides essential elements such as syntax highlighting, code completion, debugging capabilities, and more through extensions.

PyCharm vs. VS Code: Side-by-Side Comparison

PyCharmVS Code
Language SupportBuilt for Python specificallyLanguage-agnostic, supporting lots of languages through a myriad of extensions
LicensingOffers Professional and Community EditionsSingle free and open-source version
User InterfacePyCharm provides a clutter-free, customizable interface for optimized productivityVS Code emphasizes simplicity and minimalism with a clean, customizable UI
Debugging CapabilitiesOffers seamless debugging, breakpoints, variable inspection, and remote debuggingRobust debugging capabilities extensile through plugins/extensions
Version Control SupportIntegrates with Git for code collaborationProvides native Git integration 
Code NavigationExcellent at code navigationHas comparable code navigation features
Performance Demonstrates robust performance but can be resource-intensiveVS Code is lightweight and performs exceptionally well
Community SupportHas a vibrant and active community with numerous community-driven extensionsHas a reasonably wide and growing dev community

PyCharm vs. VS Code: What’s the Difference?

To gain a deeper understanding of the two IDEs, let’s delve into these distinctions and examine them closely.

Licensing and Distribution Model

PyCharm comes in two editions: Professional and Community. The Professional Edition is a comprehensive IDE suitable for both scientific and web Python development. It not only offers robust Python support but also provides built-in support for languages like HTML and SQL. This makes it an excellent choice for developers working on Python projects that involve a range of technologies.

Meanwhile, the free and open-source Community Edition of PyCharm is focused on pure Python development. It offers all the essential features and tools for Python coding but lacks the specialized support for web development and other languages found in the Professional Edition.

If your primary focus is Python development without the need for extensive support for web frameworks, the Community Edition of PyCharm might be the perfect fit for you. In contrast, VS Code is available as a single version that is both free and open-source.

User Interface and Customization

When it comes to the user interface and customization, PyCharm and VS Code offer distinct approaches that cater to different coding preferences. PyCharm, known for its comprehensive feature set, provides a clutter-free interface designed to optimize productivity. 

Its intuitive layout allows developers to arrange and personalize panels, tool windows, and editor layouts to create a workspace that fits their workflow seamlessly. With PyCharm, you can fine-tune the IDE to display the information and tools you need at your fingertips, enhancing your coding experience.

VS Code, meanwhile, tends to take a minimalist approach, emphasizing simplicity and ease of use. Its lightweight interface provides a clean and less “busy” UI, allowing developers to focus on their code. Despite its simplicity, VS Code offers ample customization options, enabling you to tailor the IDE to your liking. You can choose from various themes, fonts, and color schemes to create a visually pleasing coding environment. 

Language Support and Extensions

Straight out of the box, PyCharm shines as a dedicated Python development powerhouse as expected. It excels in providing comprehensive support for Python-specific features and libraries. Not only that. but through its paid-for Professional version, you get support for extra languages like HTML, JavaScript, and SQL.

With PyCharm, you can also benefit from advanced code analysis, intelligent code completion that anticipates your next move, and error highlighting that helps you catch and correct mistakes swiftly. Its specialized Python features, such as integrated testing and support for popular web frameworks like Django and Flask, make PyCharm a top choice for Pythonistas.

VS Code embraces a broader spectrum of programming languages, making it a versatile option for multi-language development. It supports a wide range of programming languages, including Java, JavaScript, PHP, and more. While providing solid Python support out of the box, VS Code truly unleashes its potential through its expansive marketplace of extensions. 

For Python development, you can leverage extensions like Python (IntelliSense or Pylance) for enhanced code completion and suggestions and linting for detecting errors and style inconsistencies. There are also extensions for Jupyter Notebooks, refactoring, unit tests, and Python code indentation (Python Indent), allowing developers to tailor their coding environment to their precise needs.

Debugging Capabilities

Both PyCharm and VS Code excel in providing developers with powerful debugging capabilities. In PyCharm, you’ll find a seamless debugging experience enriched with advanced features specifically designed to enhance your debugging process. With PyCharm, you can set breakpoints, inspect variables, execute your code step-by-step, and even perform remote debugging. These features enable you to pinpoint and resolve issues with ease, ensuring your code runs smoothly.

Similarly, VS Code also offers a robust debugging experience. It lets you set breakpoints, track variables, and debug both client and server applications. Tacked on that is its enhanced capability through specialized debugging extensions. 

As an example, the Python extension, provides comprehensive debugging capabilities, including support for multi-threaded and remote debugging. These extensions empower you to dive deep into your code and identify even the most intricate bugs.

Version Control Integration

Both PyCharm and VS Code recognize the importance of efficient version control integration and offer their respective solutions to streamline code collaboration and repository management. PyCharm boasts seamless integration with popular version control systems like Git. With PyCharm, you can effortlessly manage your code repositories without leaving the comfort of your coding environment. Its dedicated Version Control tool window provides a centralized hub for monitoring changes, committing code, and branching effortlessly.

Besides that, PyCharm’s built-in diff viewer lets you visualize and compare code changes, ensuring a smooth and error-free collaboration experience. In the case of conflicts, PyCharm offers conflict resolution capabilities, simplifying the process of merging and resolving conflicts within your version control workflow.

VS Code, too, offers native Git integration allowing you to perform common version control tasks without the need to switch between different tools. VS Code’s Git integration provides a user-friendly terminal and GUI features, allowing you to manage branches, commit changes, and push to remote repositories directly from within the IDE. And for those using alternative version control systems, VS Code extends its capabilities through a diverse range of extensions such as Mercurial SCM (Hg).

Laptops for programming
PyCharm is great for Python-based applications, while VS Code is super versatile.

©DC Studio/Shutterstock.com

Code Navigation and Autocomplete

Code navigation and autocomplete play a pivotal role in enhancing the coding experience, allowing developers to swiftly navigate through their codebase and write code with ease. In this aspect, PyCharm truly does a fantastic job, showcasing its prowess in code navigation. 

It empowers developers with a plethora of features such as Go to Definition, Find Usages, and the ability to quickly look up documentation. PyCharm’s intelligent code completion goes above and beyond, providing context-aware suggestions that greatly expedite the coding process.

VS Code doesn’t fall short in this domain either. It offers a comparable set of code navigation features, enabling developers to effortlessly jump to definitions, locate all references, and even peek into definitions without leaving the current file. Moreover, VS Code’s autocomplete functionality tailors suggestions to your specific coding language, ensuring that your coding experience remains smooth and efficient.

Performance and Resource Usage

In terms of performance and resource usage, PyCharm demonstrates impressive capabilities. However, it can be a bit of a resource hog as its resource-intensive nature becomes more pronounced when handling extensive projects.

Conversely, VS Code excels as a lightweight IDE that performs exceptionally well, even on modest hardware. Its design emphasizes efficiency and minimal system resource consumption. This would make a world of difference for users seeking an IDE that delivers excellent performance without straining their hardware.

PyCharm vs. VS Code: 10 Must-Know Facts

  • PyCharm was developed by JetBrains, while VS Code was developed by Microsoft.
  • PyCharm is built using Java, while VS Code is primarily written in TypeScript.
  • VS Code has a vibrant and active community, with a wide range of community-driven extensions and themes available.
  • PyCharm provides integrated database tools, allowing you to interact with databases like MySQL directly from the IDE.
  • VS Code supports interactive notebooks, enabling you to create and share documents that combine code, visualizations, and explanations.
  • PyCharm integrates seamlessly with popular web frameworks like Django and Flask, offering specialized project templates and development workflows.
  • VS Code has a robust Live Share feature that enables real-time collaboration and pair programming with other developers.
  • PyCharm has an integrated Python profiler, allowing you to identify performance bottlenecks in your code.
  • VS Code has a powerful command palette that lets you execute commands, search for files, and navigate through your code with ease.
  • Both PyCharm and VS Code provide an integrated terminal, allowing you to execute command-line operations without leaving the IDE.

PyCharm vs. VS Code: Pros and Cons

Briefly, both PyCharm and VS Code offer their respective benefits and drawbacks. Let’s explore them briefly!



  • Robust Python support and specialized features
  • Comprehensive debugging and testing capabilities
  • Seamless integration with web frameworks like Django and Flask


  • Can be resource-intensive, especially for larger projects
  • Some advanced features are only available in the paid Professional Edition

VS Code


  • Lightweight and performs exceptionally well on various machines
  • Supports a wide range of programming languages and frameworks
  • A vast marketplace of extensions for enhanced functionality


  • Python-specific features may not be as comprehensive as in PyCharm
  • Limited built-in testing and profiling capabilities, meaning you will need to find extensions for that

PyCharm vs. VS Code: Which One is Better?

When deciding between PyCharm and VS Code, or any other IDE for that matter, it’s best that you consider your programming language preferences and the nature of your project, besides personal preferences. 

PyCharm finds its strength in Python-centric development, making it an excellent choice for web development, scientific computing, data analysis, and machine learning. For example, if you’re building a web application with Django or Flask, PyCharm’s specialized templates, debugging, and testing support will streamline your workflow. 

On the other hand, VS Code’s versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of programming tasks. It’s particularly popular among developers working with the ubiquitous JavaScript and those working with multiple programming languages. For instance, if you’re developing a MERN-stack application, VS Code’s extensive JavaScript support, along with its rich marketplace of extensions, will elevate your development experience. 

If you’re working with say, Kotlin for Android development, VS Code offers extensions that provide Kotlin language support, syntax highlighting, and code completion. This allows you to do pretty much most of what you can do in JetBrains’ dedicated Android development IDE, Android Studio. Even when tinkering with special languages like Arduino, you will enjoy features like code library management and a built-in serial monitor through VS Code extensions. There’s just about an extension for every major programming language out there.

That being said, you should feel free to explore the features of both, try them out, and let your coding adventure unfold with the IDE that resonates with your coding spirit.

PyCharm vs. VS Code: What’s the Difference? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What’s the main difference between PyCharm and VS Code?

The main difference is that PyCharm is a dedicated Python IDE, while VS Code is a versatile code editor (and IDE) that supports multiple programming languages through extensions. PyCharm offers more powerful code completion and navigation features out-of-the-box, whereas VS Code relies on extensions for similar capabilities.

What’s the difference between an IDE and a code editor?

The main difference is that while a code editor is a simple tool focused primarily on editing source code and basic features like syntax highlighting, An IDE provides comprehensive tools and features for software development, including code editing, debugging, and code compilation. Both PyCharm and VS Code offer these to developers and much more, which is why they’re considered IDEs.

Is PyCharm free to use?

PyCharm is available in two editions: Professional and Community. The Community Edition of PyCharm is open-source and free to use, making it accessible to developers without any cost. However, the Professional Edition of PyCharm comes with a license fee and additional advanced features.

How do PyCharm and VS Code compare in terms of performance?

PyCharm is known for its robust performance, especially when working with large codebases and complex projects. It offers a range of features and optimizations that enhance the overall development experience. On the other hand, VS Code is designed to be lightweight and fast, providing a responsive and efficient coding environment for projects of just about any size.

Do both PyCharm and VS Code support Git integration?

That’s right, both PyCharm and VS Code offer integration with the popular version control system. You can easily perform Git operations such as committing changes, branching, merging, and viewing commit history directly within the IDEs.

Which IDE is more beginner-friendly: VS Code or PyCharm?

Being language-agnostic VS Code is often considered more beginner-friendly compared to PyCharm. VS Code has a minimalistic interface and is generally more lightweight, making it easier for newcomers to get started. PyCharm doesn’t necessarily have a steeper learning curve but its more specialized features and tools specifically tailored for Python development can be a bit of a learning curve for the very new to programming.

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