Writing Java with Visual Studio Code

This tutorial shows you how to write and run a simple Hello World program in Java with Visual Studio Code. It also covers a few advanced features, which you can explore by reading other documents in this section.

Before you begin

Before going through this tutorial, you must have the Java SE Development Kit (JDK) and Apache Maven build tools on your local development environment. If you don't have them installed, you can do so now.

Download and install the Java SE Development Kit (JDK). Java support on Visual Studio Code works with all major Java version up to 11, see a few JDK distributions you can choose from:

Note: After installing the JDK, you would need to configure your environment for Java development. The most common way is to set JAVA_HOME environment variable to the install location of the JDK while you can also use java.home setting in Visual Studio Code settings (workspace then user settings) to configure it just for the editor.

Download Apache Maven version 3 or greater:

Download Apache Maven

Install Apache Maven for your local development environment:

Install Apache Maven

Install Visual Studio Code and Java Extensions

Note: You can install Visual Studio Code from https://code.visualstudio.com.

To help set up Java on VS Code, there is the Microsoft Java Extension Pack, which contains these popular extensions:

  1. Language Support for Java(TM) by Red Hat
  2. Debugger for Java
  3. Java Test Runner
  4. Maven for Java
  5. Java Dependency Viewer

Install the Java Extension Pack

You can also select which extensions you would like to install separately. For this tutorial, only Language Support for Java(TM) by Red Hat and Debugger for Java are needed.

Create the program

Create a folder for your Java program and open the folder with Visual Studio Code. Within Visual Studio Code, you can then create a new file Hello.java. When you open that file, the Java Language Server will automatically be activated as you can see a rocket icon on the right of the Status bar. When it finishes loading, you will see a thumbs up icon instead.

Visual Studio Code also supports more complex Java projects, see Project Management.

Note: The Java Language Server might not work properly if you open a standalone Java file in Visual Studio Code without opening its folder.

Editing code

In Visual Studio Code, you can easily use code snippets to scaffold your class and method. VS Code also provides IntelliSense for code completion.

You can also use various refactor methods within the editor. To learn more about Java code editing in Visual Studio Code, see Java Editing.

Running and debugging your program

It is easy to run and debug Java in Visual Studio Code. You can either click F5 or use the Run|Debug CodeLens options. Just set a breakpoint and you can see all your variables and threads in the Debug view.

The debugger also supports advanced features such as Hot Code replacement and conditional breakpoints. For more information, see Java Debugging.

More features

Now you've seen how easy it is to write a simple Java program with Visual Studio Code. The editor has much more capability to offer for your Java workload.

To learn how to work with Java Web App in VS Code, read Java Web App.