Table of Contents
Overview on using Visual Studio Code with Node.js
Knowing how to use Node.js with Visual Studio Code is easy. All you do is install your preferred Node.js version and Visual Studio Code for your operating system or kernel. Next, create or open a
.js file with Visual Studio Code.
But if you want to be more comfortable building Node.js applications, you need to go an extra step in installing and customizing the tools for effective development.
This tutorial teaches you how to use Node.js with Visual Studio Code. It walks you through Node.js and Visual Studio Code installation, navigating the editor interface and settings, and using shortcuts and themes. Lastly, you will test your skills by building a simple web server.
Let's do this!
This section focuses on installing Node.js and Visual Studio Code on your operating system.
Step-1: Download and Install Node.js
We will download and install Node.js on our Ubuntu server. Let's start by inspecting what the Linux repositories have for us.
sudo apt-cache show node.js
Install the default (lower) version of Node.js if you are comfortable with it. Otherwise follow these steps to install a higher version for your operating system.
Visit the Node.js website.
For Windows, click the link the LTS or current version and answer prompts to install Node.js on your system. For Linux and MacOS, you should proceed with the following steps to install your preferred Node.js version.
Below the link to the current version, click on Other Downloads.
Scroll down the page to the links section. Choose the one written Installing Node.js via package manager.
Choose the installer for your operating system/kernel type. I am picking the option called Debian and Ubuntu based Linux distributions because I am installing Node.js on Ubuntu 20.04 machine.
I then click on the link leading me to Node.js binary distributions repository.
Scroll down the page and copy your download command on the target version section. I am picking version 18 (v18.x) for Ubuntu.
Return to the terminal and run the command.
If curl is not found, install it first.
sudo apt install curl
Then retry installing Node.js libraries.
curl -fsSL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_current.x | sudo -E bash -
Next, install the picked Node.js version.
sudo apt-get install -y node.js
Lastly, confirm your installation by checking the Node.js version.
Likewise, you can confirm
npm installation (automatically installed with Node.js) by checking its version.
Now that you have installed Node.js, let me show how to install Visual Studio Code on your system.
Step-2: Download and Install Visual Studio Code
Navigate to Visual Studio Code's website.
Installing on Windows and MacOS
Click on Download for Windows button. Likewise the website is intelligent enough to detect you have visited it with a Mac machine.
Visual Studio Code starts downloading once the download is complete. Answer the straightforward prompts to install the editor on your system.
Installing on Linux
Select the installation package for your distro type. I am choosing .deb because it suits my Ubuntu distribution.
Visual Studio Code is downloaded into your Downloads folder.
Navigate to the Downloads folder to confirm the successful download.
cd Downloads ls
Copy the downloaded file's name and install Visual studio using
# sudo dpkg -i [filename] sudo dpkg -i code_1.67.2-1652812855_amd64.deb
Now, Visual Studio Code should be available under the installed applications.
Now that we have installed both Node.js and Visual Studio Code let's see how to use Node.js with visual studio code.
Step-3: Configure Visual Studio Code to use Node.js
3.1 Open Visual Studio Code
You can open Visual Studio Code using many GUI ways, but the fastest way is through the terminal or Windows Command Prompt.
# Open an empty editor or reopen the previously closed file/folder code # Open the current folder code .
3.2 Create a new file
You can create a file on the terminal and open it with Visual Studio Code. Alternatively, you can open an empty Visual Studio Code window, open the Explorer, and create a folder followed by a file.
Besides, you can click the File tab on the navigation menu, followed by New File.
Let's create a file called
server.js inside the test folder, then open it with Visual Studio Code. Head over to your Terminal, create a folder, and then open it with Visual Studio Code.
mkdir test cd test code .
Hover over the folder name. A menu pops on the right side of the folder name. The first link creates a file, while the second one creates a folder. The third link refreshes the screen, while the last one collapses all the (sidebar) opened files and folders. Let's create the file using the first menu's link.
console.log('How to use Node.js with visual studio code')
Save the file using
ctrl+s. And run it with Visual Studio Code's Terminal. There are many ways to toggle the Terminal. You can use the main navigation links or shortcuts:
command for Mac is the equivalence of the
ctrl key for Windows and Linux. So, it would be best to replace every
ctrl instance with the command if the given visual studio code shortcut fails to work in Mac.
Now run the file with node.
You get the following output:
How to use Node.js with visual studio code
Similarly, you can use the Visual Studio Code Terminal to install packages.
Step-4: Install additional packages on VSC
Let's install the following packages using the Terminal.
- express: Create a web server
- nodemon: Watch the server.
Before that, let's notify Node.js that we want to manage
npm packages by running
npm init command.
npm init -y npm i express nodemon
Let's customize the
package.json file to use
nodemon, build the web server and start it.
npm run dev
Then make a request using your browser as the client on PORT 3000.
You can end a process running on the terminal using the
You probably wonder how I condensed the font size to accommodate more things or split the screen to accommodate the two files.
You can enlarge the font size by pressing the
+ keys simultaneously or minimize it using the
- keys. You can split the screen by dragging one file to the top-right active corner of another.
Here are more shortcuts and settings.
Step-5: Install extension packages on VSC
One of the main reasons programmers love Visual Studio Code is that you can build anything or use (almost) any programming language with it. It enables you to install extensions through its Extensions link on the sidebar.
All you do is click the Extensions link, search for a new or an installed extension then install or manage the extension.
You can also manage extensions through the command palette, accessible through the View tab -> Command Palette
The command palette, also reachable via the
ctrl+shift+p shortcut, enables you to run commands.
Themes like Eva, One Dark Pro, Cobalt 2, and Material Theme change the appearance of the UI of your code editor. For example, let's install One Dark Pro, set its dark mode and see how the interface looks.
Additionally, you can install the Prettier extension for automatic code format. Then open the
server.js file to see the impact of themes and extensions.
The file has a (better) new look.
Lastly, you can close the editor or open another project.
Knowing how to use Node.js with Visual Studio Code starts by installing Node.js and the editor on your machine.
You should then learn how to manage files by navigating Visual Studio Code's interface. It would be helpful to know shortcuts and customize the editor for improved productivity.