For users coming from a C# background, F# tooling has often felt somehow limiting, lacking the power of tools such as JetBrain’s popular ReSharper toolkit or in-built project wizards. However, over the past year we have seen significant improvements to F# tooling, especially in terms of cross-platform adoption.
Microsoft’s de-facto development tool, Visual Studio, is a natural place to start for Windows .NET developers. Efforts to completely rewrite the F# and Visual Studio integration, which began in Visual Studio (VS) 2017, have started to bear fruit, resulting in a much more consistent editing experience in relation to C# compared to, for example, VS2015.
There are still oddities with some refactoring features, but stability and performance have been drastically improved, especially in VS2019, and we can expect continued improvements in the future. VS2019 also now has a free tier which contains the complete F# integration, allowing the development of full end-to-end applications in F# on Windows.
Ionide, the free, open source plugin for cross-platform code editor Visual Studio Code, is rapidly growing in popularity – it has now been downloaded over 1.5 million times – and offers an excellent way to quickly and easily start using F# cross-platform for free, especially for scripting and data-oriented workloads. VS Code’s huge library of extensions also means it can be tailored to your exact requirements.
We have seen the benefits of the Ionide project first-hand with many of our customers and in training courses, because users can – particularly in conjunction with .NET Core 3 – consistently get up-and-running with F# in a matter of minutes.
To learn more, including about other IDEs such as Jetbrains Rider, and to find out which new features we recommend you adopt and reject, download Compositional IT’s new whitepaper F# In 2020: The Road Ahead.