I have worked some time with F# using Visual Studio 2013 RC, but my RC license has been expired, so now I can't use it anymore, and VS 2013 Express doesn't support F#.

I'm looking for the following features:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Debugging
  • Code hinting (like IntelliSense)
  • Code refactoring

Which free (or open source) IDE do you recommend for this purpose? I'm using Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.


4 Answers 4


Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition

At the end of 2014, microsoft released a new liscence for visual studio. Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition has some restrictions on who can use it: small companies (<5 devs), individuals, open source projects, or academic use. If you pass that, it is identical to VS 2013 Professional.

According to fsharp.org, VS2013 and above (including Community Edition), include the F# tools.

Visual Studio Express

Note: some links here use the Wayback Machine, as the Fsharp.org website has been updated to recommend visual studio 2013 community. Other links have been updated. However the solution below should still work.

I used Visual Studio Express Edition, with the F# Tools. This is basically visual studio, so it's pretty good. Your main issues would be possible licensing restrictions.

According to microsoft, Visual Studio Express Does support F#. Did you remember to install the F# compiler, sold (free) separately?


F# is supported in SharpDevelop out of the box (though installation of Microsoft F# is required).

And support for F# can be enabled via plugins in MonoDevelop, Emacs, Vim, Sublime Text, and other.

All of them are free and open source (except Sublime Text which is freeware).

From these at least MonoDevelop and SharpDevelop support debugging and code completion (what you name code hinting). In general they also have refactoring support but I'm not sure about F# refactoring.


Not so long ago, Microsoft published a new Visual Studio version: Visual Studio 2013 Community, which is free. This is actually very similar (perhaps equal) to VS Professional, but with only a limited amount of users allowed.

More details and a download link can be found here.

Because it is very similar to Visual Studio 2013 Professional, you can do the same things with it, including full F# support:

  • Syntax highlighting: Yes.
  • Debugging: Yes.
  • IntelliSense: Yes.
  • Code refactoring: Yes.
  • Can run on Windows 7: Yes.

SublimeText 3 with THIS plugin makes for a good F# Dev Environment.

Thought SublimeText is a Text Editor it's got powerful feature set including:
Syntax Highlighting
Code Indentation
Code Hinting and more

With the F# Plugin you can turn this text editor into a good F# Development Environment.

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