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The Difference Between CS50 IDE And Visual Audio (Explained)

by Logan
html and a monitor

The CS50 IDE is merely a particular configuration of the Cloud9 IDE, an IDE that is accessible through your browser and is run on a server.

This has the benefit of working on all machines, independent of OS or configuration, saving a ton of time that could be spent instructing CS newbies on more crucial concepts.

However, the Cloud9 IDE is not a compiler. 

Make is a compiler that is included with the Cloud9 IDE’s CS50 IDE setup. You may alternatively use the normal Ubuntu installation’s included compilers, such as GCC, clang, and others.

In addition, Visual Studio is an IDE and not a compiler. Instead of operating it on a server, you install it on your PC.

This has the benefit of utilizing all of your computer’s capabilities and enables you to build things that, among other things, the CS50 IDE’s processing power restrictions prevent you from building.

Setting it up is one of the main disadvantages of Cs50. Multiple compilers, including CMake, Clang, MinGW, and others, can be used by Visual Studio.

In this blog, we’ll be talking about several compilers with an emphasis on CS50 IDE and Visual Audio. Not just that, we’ll have a broader look at the comparisons between CS50 and other types of compilers.

By the end of the article, all your ambiguities will be cleared.

Let’s get started.

What Is CS050 IDE?

An “integrated development environment,” or “IDE,” is a fancy term for “a set of tools that should make the process of writing software easier,” and it refers to the CS50 IDE.

It gives you access to a Linux environment, in this case, Ubuntu 14.04, which has numerous installed tools, including a compiler like a clang, which is the one we use by default in CS50.

You’ll note that the CS50 IDE is not a standalone compiler.

The Cloud9 (now owned by Amazon) open-source IDE, which is a cloud-based IDE (hosted on servers somewhere on the internet) that we can access via a web browser like Chrome or Firefox, provides the foundation for the CS50 IDE.

Throughout the course, students are expected to use the CS50 IDE at the very least to complete the problem sets and perhaps the final project.

What Are The Main Objectives Of Using CS50 IDE?

The CS50 IDE is basically a Cloud9 adaptation that has been tailored to work best with Harvard’s CS50 and a few other courses.

This personalization includes changes to the user interface, pre-installed and pre-configured tools, and more.

The following are the main objectives of using the CS50 IDE and doing these customizations:

Students’ environments are integrated so that we don’t have to worry about training and assisting students to install, configure, and troubleshoot all the tools we use in the course in their local settings (real PCs), which can be very difficult given the disparity between them (e.g., different operating systems, etc.).

Given that this is an introductory course and the majority of students may have never used or seen a development environment before, pedagogical goals were pursued in changing Cloud9’s original user interface, which is intended for more experienced software engineers.

Portability
As long as you have access to a web browser and an internet connection, you should be able to access your CS50 workspace from any computer, anywhere.

Isolation.

The real PCs used by the students are not connected to the CS50 IDE in any way.

An image showing a binary input of languages
Binary Language is the key to program inputs in terms of Computers and technology.

What Does CS50 IDE Signify?

It provides you more freedom to experiment because you can’t break anything on your computer using the CS50 IDE. It’s also quite simple to establish a new workspace, delete your current one, and generate a backup of your new one.

As long as they are competent, students should still be allowed to utilize any customized environment they like (including other IDEs).

Many efforts have been made for all the CS50-specific tools (such as submit50 and check50) to be installable and functional on other platforms.

Without having to worry about any potential hassles associated with installing and configuring any tools, the CS50 IDE just makes it incredibly simple to start and follow along with the course right away.

What Makes An IDE Different From A Compiler?

It’s a sign of how modern programming tools are changing.

In a nutshell, a compiler is a program that accepts source code written in a particular programming language and turns it into a run-time.

Years ago, it was machine code that was executed directly by hardware; today, it may alternatively refer to some intermediary byte code. It’s for the languages that run virtually such as Java Family. Not only this,

It’s used for even the source code itself, for scripting languages (Python, Perl, Ruby, etc.)

On the initial run, a byte code will be created.

CS50: Why Can’t I Download The CS50 IDE?

Students registered for the course have access to the CS 50 IDE. You must first register for the course on EdX (it’s free), after which you may access the IDE.

There is actually nothing to download for this course because it employs a cloud-based IDE rather than a local virtual environment; instead, all you need is a webpage hosting the virtual appliance you’ll use for coursework.

The official platform for taking the course is no longer accessible to students who are not formally enrolled since CS50 transitioned from an appliance-based format to a format based on a cloud-based IDE with individual logins.

This was an unintentional outcome, as far as I know (and in any case, CS50 has nothing to gain by forcing students to enroll in order to follow along, since enrollment is free).

What Makes The CS50 And CS50x Different From One Another?

The name “Cs50” is used to refer to all of the courses, including “Cs50x,” “Cs50w,” “Cs50 Business,” “Cs50 Game Development,” and others.

Cs50 includes a number of courses, one of which being cs50x, “Introduction to computers.”

The edX version of the Harvard University course CS50, also known as CSCI E-50, is referred to as CS50x. I’ve already said that I think CS50 is great.

You can construct cool projects with the confidence you have from being able to comprehend many of the fundamental CS ideas.

Although it’s challenging and quick-paced, I believe it’ll be worthwhile if you remain steadfast.

How Can You Describe A Compiler?

Compilers are specialized software tools that convert the source code of one programming language into machine code, bytecode, or another programming language.

Usually, the source code is created in a high-level, readable language for humans, such as Java or C++.

Compilers that convert source code to machine code are designed for certain computer architectures and operating systems. Sometimes this output is referred to as object code (which is not related to object-oriented programming).

The target computers’ processors can read and run the machine code because it’s solely composed of binary bits—1s and 0s. A compiler might produce machine code for the Linux ARM 64-bit or Linux x64 platforms, for instance.

An image showing young engineers decoding data while sitting front of the computers
Decoding of data by young-engineers

Is CS50 Suitable For New Users?

The largest course on the Harvard campus, Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard (CS50), has more than 2,000,000 students registered for it on edX from all around the world.

More than 70% of participants in the course’s on-campus version have never programmed before.

A vast collection of video lessons is added to both the on-campus and online courses to provide students with the exact amount of clarification and reassurance they require.

David J. Malan’s introductory course CS50x teaches students how to think algorithmically and solve problems effectively. 

Topics covered include resource management, security, software engineering, encapsulation, algorithms, data structures, and web development.

How Does “CS50” Work?

For majors and non-majors alike, with or without prior programming expertise, CS50 is Harvard University’s introduction to the intellectual pursuits of computer science and the art of programming.

The subjects covered in this course include resource management, security, software engineering, and web development.

Along with SQL, CSS, and HTML, other languages include C, PHP, and JavaScript. problem sets based on biology, cryptography, banking, forensics, and gaming that are applicable in the real world.

The most popular course at Harvard as of Fall 2015 was CS50, the on-campus equivalent of CS50x.

Type of LanguageExamples
Algorithmic LanguagesFORTRAN, ALGOL, and C.
Business Oriented LanguagesCOBOL, SQL
Education OrientedBASIC, Pascal, Hypertalk
Object-OrientedC++, Ada, Java
Visual BasicPython
Types of computer languages with examples

Is VSCode Compatible With CS50?

Open the codespace in VS Code by going to code.cs50.io, selecting Open in VS Code desktop, and logging in as usual. Alternatively, you may choose to open in VS Cod from the codespace’s “hamburger” menu if you are already logged in.

A codespace can be customized in VS Code using a variety of settings:

  • User settings can be applied to codespaces using Settings Sync and “apply globally to whatever instance of VS Code you access.”
  • Remote settings are configured by CS50 through a codespace’s s.devcontainer.json file.
  • User settings are overridden by remote settings.
  • Workspace preferences, which you can change using the VS Code GUI (or by editing.vscode/settings.json manually).
  • Remote settings are overridden by workspace settings.

In other words, workspace settings come before remote settings and user settings in terms of precedence. Thus, you might want to preserve the majority of your settings in User settings if you use VS Code outside of CS50 (and enable Settings Sync).

Additionally, you can change Workspace settings to override any Remote settings CS50 has established.

An image showing html and cs, mixed media
HTML and CS are the two most important computer languages used for web designing and other purposes.

What Is Visual Studio Code?

For CS50, use Visual Studio Code. A web application called Visual Studio Code for CS50 at code.cs50.io transforms GitHub Code spaces for teachers and students.

It automates the creation of a repository inside CS50’s GitHub organization, posting an initial.devcontainer.json to it, and constructing a “code space,” which is a cloud-based Docker “container” (akin to your very own virtual server).

In the end, it enables students to begin programming using simply a browser, eliminating the need to install or customize anything locally on their own computer.

A full-featured version of Visual Studio Code, also known as VS Code, is available within their browser.

This version includes a tabbed text editor, a terminal window (attached to a Docker container running cs50/code space), and a graphical file explorer.

You can also use VS Code locally if that makes you feel more comfortable:

Internet access is required even without Docker so that you can connect to a code space remotely.
Docker allows you to execute code space-like containers on your PC even when you don't have access to the internet.
I think now you're quite familiar with Visual Code and Cs50, aren't you?

Wrapping Up

To conclude, I’d like to say that;

  • CS50 and other visual compilers have some significant differences that define them.
  • CS50 is a fundamental course in computer use, programming, and relationships. The computer science course CS50 is intended for both majors and non-majors.
  • On the other hand, a web application called Visual Studio Code for CS50 at code.cs50.io transforms GitHub Codespaces for teachers and students.
  • CS50 is a course that teaches you how to think more logically and how to solve issues more successfully, in addition to teaching you how to program. 
  • Because of this, its lessons go far beyond the purview of computer science itself. But maybe the most empowering outcome of the training is that it actually teaches you how to program.
  • In addition, Visual Studio is an IDE and not a compiler. Instead of operating it on a server, you install it on your PC.

To know more, have a look at this article again!

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