What is the difference PlatformIO IDE and PlatformIO Core?

I just installed VScode and the PlatformIO IDE extension.
Now I’m asked to install PlatformIO Core.

I’ve Googled PlatformIO Core but am still unclear on what it does.

Hopefully some kind soul will tell me what PlatformIO Core does…
and if I need it for Arduino and/or ESP32 board development.

Thanks for any help.

PlatformIO IDE is for the Atom and VSCode editors. It exists as a plugin for these two editors. However, Atom is no longer recommended, only VSCode. It used to also work with VSCodium, but Microsoft changed the rules and prevented VSCodium and PlatformIO, amongst others, from working together.

PlatformIO CLI is, as the name suggests, a command line implementation of the PlatformIO software. It allows you, or indeed, me, to run commands such as pio run to compile a sketch and pio run --target upload to upload it either via a bootloader or an ICSP. Everything you can do in the IDE extension, you can do just as easily, in the CLI.

You don’t however, need to install the CLI separately, what you can do is add the location of the PlatformIO executables to your PATH environment variable, and get the best of both worlds! The full process is described in the docs but it’s really simple to do.



https://github.com/platformio/platformio-core/ is the actual core Python code for building your project. With only the core installed, you can already create and build projects (pio init -b <board>, pio run, pio run -t upload…).

https://github.com/platformio/platformio-vscode-ide/ is an extension for VSCode that provides a “front-end” for the PIO core functionality, auto-generates the needed files the VSCode intellisense, provides VSCode tasks, et cetara. Ultimately, everything will call into the PIO core via the commandline. The extension will also auto-install the PIO core in case it’s not already preinstalled by the user.