Programming language Python in VS Code: New Jupyter extension supports R and Julia

Microsoft's separate Jupyter notebooks extension aims to improve support for Python's programming language rivals.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft has released a new version of the Python language extension for its Visual Studio Code (VS Code) code editor that breaks out its Jupyter Notebooks functionality into a distinct VS Code extension, and has hired Python's creator, Guido van Rossum. 

Python these days is a top-two programming language and is even more popular than Java, the widely used software that Oracle gained after its 2008 acquisition of Sun Microsystems.   

Python's popularity is also borne out by downloads of the Python extension for Microsoft's VS Code, one of the most popular code editors on the market. 

SEE: Hiring Kit: Python developer (TechRepublic Premium)    

The ascent of Python is attributable to data science and machine learning, but it's also a critical language for back-end system automation and scripting. It's popular because it's easy to learn, allowing non-developers to use the language. 

It's become a language of first resort and is used for thousands of small projects, according to RedMonk analyst Steve O'Grady. The language was created 35 years ago by 64-year-old Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum, who decided to exit "boring" retirement this week and work for Microsoft

Microsoft these days is a huge open-source advocate, supporting open-source Python in developer tools, including the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE). 

It also hosts it in Azure Notebooks and uses it to build end-user experiences like the Azure command-line interface (CLI). Microsoft considers Python an essential programming language.

Data science is key to Python's success and also part of Microsoft's plan to attract developers to its Azure cloud. One of the core components of Python's data-science story is Jupyter notebooks, a tool that supports not just Python, but other popular data-science languages such as Julia and R. It allows users to share live code, equations, text and visualizations. 

While Microsoft's Python extension for VS Code has supported Jupyter Notebooks for a year now, Microsoft decided to break out Jupyter notebooks functionality to improve support for other data-science languages. 

"The Jupyter support of the Python extension has been refactored into the Jupyter extension, which was shipped today," said Claudia Regio, a program manager for Python data science and AI Tools for VS Code

"This will allow for the same rich Jupyter notebooks experience to be enabled for other languages. For Python, there's no change in the experience as the Jupyter extension now comes installed with the Python extension.

SEE: Programming languages: Julia users most likely to defect to Python for data science

The new extension reflects Microsoft's understanding that Jupyter notebooks are used with Python, R, Julia, and Scala. 

Rong Lu, a principal program manager at Microsoft, said: "To enable the same rich Jupyter Notebook experience for other languages, we've refactored the Jupyter support out of the Python extension and into the Jupyter extension that we're shipping today.  

"This makes it much easier to build new Jupyter experiences for languages beyond Python by taking a dependency on the Jupyter extension, which itself has no dependency on the Python runtime or the Python extension."

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