When it comes to coding and developing virtual reality applications in Unity, we’re looking for the best IDE to help us navigate, script, and debug our code. But what is the best script editor for developing with Unity?

For a while now, Visual Studio Code is the best script editor for Unity and has become the primary editor for just about any language. Developed by Microsoft – Visual Studio Code is a cross-platform IDE and comes free with the download of Unity. Equipped with IntelliSense and Roslyn diagnostics, we see Visual Studio Code being at the top for a while to come.

Top 5 script editors for Unity are:

  1. Visual Studio Code
  2. Project Rider
  3. Atom
  4. Visual Studio
  5. MonoDevelop

Although, different developers prefer to work with different script editors – and if you’ve tried and tested Visual Studio Code and its just not for you, we will recommend other editors you should give a go.

What Are Script Editors?

Script editors, also known as ‘IDE’s (Integrated Development Environment) is software that enables programmers to write, edit and consolidate their code as a single script type file. 

IDE’s help increases a coder’s workflow with their built-in features like quick navigation, Roslyn diagnostics, and debugging features.

All script editors are different. Some are lighter on RAM than others, while others feature more helpful complicated assistive features like syntax highlighting, autocomplete, building executables, and debugging.

First… How Does Your Hardware Perform?

Before you go and blame how slow an editor might be to open up – it will be important to understand how your hardware affects what you’re trying to do. To have a fast-reacting script editor, you will need to know how long it would take your computer to execute an instruction, collect data from memory, and read consecutive words from a disk.

Typically, the better your hardware memory (RAM), the better your computer will be able to operate its functions alongside a potentially heavily data-filled environment within Unity.

Therefore, having a good SSD helps every script editor a lot.

Coding in C#

C# (pronounced “C-Sharp”) is an extension of the old and original “C” language. It’s a high-level, object-orientated language that was developed by Microsoft in 2002. Which is why it makes sense that the best script editor to code it in, is also developed by Microsoft (Visual Studio Code).

C# is a more modern version of its counterpart, C++. The main difference between the two is that C# is a component-orientated language while C++ is an object-orientated language. What does this mean? Well basically, an object-orientated language like C++ deals with bits of code and the associations between these bits, while C# uses exchangeable chunks of code that work on their own. 

The main consensus is that although C# seems more complicated to code, you have a bigger chance for errors in C++.

Here are the top 5 script editors for Unity

1. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is a versatile program that has a strong Microsoft backing. Both C#, the language itself, as well as Visual Studio Code were developed by Microsoft themselves, which is why it’s probably the most popular script editor for C#.

Because of its popularity, the community that provides helpful tips and troubleshooting solutions is extremely active – making getting help quick and easy.

VSC has a syntax highlighter for almost every programming language which speeds up the average programmer’s workflow by quite a bit. It is also possible to set shortcuts within the program, but it is not done by default and has to be set up manually.

Visual Studio Code speed is similar to other electron apps, meaning its memory and battery usage isn’t as great as it should be. Whether or not it’s pros outweigh its cons, is up to how much you value its additional features.

2. Project Rider

Project Rider by Jetbrains

Project Rider, like Visual Studio Code, runs on many platforms – including Windows 10, Linux, and macOS. It has a really intuitive UI, which might benefit Java users – but as for C# and Unity, the support could be better.

If you have a low-end machine that’s just getting by with Visual Studio Code, we do not think Project Rider is going to be any better.

It’s debugging features are not as intuitive as that of Visual Studio Code, but if you’re looking to integrate with TeamCity – Rider is the first choice.

3. Atom

Atom is another free, open-source text editor. Atom is great for user interface customization. Like in Visual Studio Code, you can customize your styling and snippets as you’d like.

Atom makes use of a built-in package manager to tailor the interface. As for how it supports C# there are two relevant C# packages you can download to help you.

But we’ve gotten word on a few instances that Atom does not always work as you expect it to – and we think it because you need plug-ins to improve its functionality.

4. Visual Studio

Visual Studio

Visual Studio (often confused with Visual Studio Code) is also an IDE. The main difference between the two is that Visual Studio Code is a lightweight code editor that has less supported features than Visual Studio. 

Visual Studio has more advanced debugging and diagnostics tools, more advanced testing tools, and higher potential for cross-platform development.

But more is not always better when it comes to additional features and RAM capacity. If you are only looking to code with C# for Unity, we recommend you stick with the lighter Visual Studio Code.

5. MonoDevelop


Before Visual Studio Code, MonoDevelop was the primary text editor for Unity and came with Unity once you downloaded it. It was the standard IDE for developing games with Unity and was for quite sometime before Visual Studio Code overtook it.

Some developers still prefer to use MonoDevelop and describe it as a clean, easy, and useful tool. 

MonoDevelop had its flaws and there are lots of reports of unexpected crashes, but in general, it worked. MonoDevelop’s autocompleting is great, but there are sometimes bugs with the IntelliSense.

We still recommend Visual Studio Code as the best and most popular text editor for developing with Unity. It has ranked at the top, quite far above the other text editors.

Leah van der Walt

Leah van der Walt

Leah is a 3D Artist & VR / AR Developer with 8 years of experience. Based in South Africa, she is a passionate teacher and loves to listen to drum and bass in her spare time.

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