Applications - nRF Connect for VS Code
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There are two types of applications supported by the extension: freestanding and workspace. The following table describes main differences between them.

Freestanding application Workspace application
Location Outside of a west workspace, but in a VS Code workspace. Inside a west workspace (which is also a VS Code workspace).
Usage of west manifest Does not use the west manifest. Uses the west manifest to specify the SDK version. The file is created when you set up a west workspace.
SDK version Specified by the VS Code workspace.

The extension will resolve the path of the nRF Connect SDK installation on the local system from the version variable. Typically, this means that applications in different VS Code workspaces that point to the same nRF Connect SDK version will use the same copy of the installed nRF Connect SDK.
Specified by the west manifest file of the application.

The nRF Connect SDK version setting specified in the VS Code workspace setting is not used to resolve the nRF Connect SDK installation for the workspace application.
Multiple applications in one workspace Possible. All freestanding applications in the same VS Code workspace can use the same nRF Connect SDK version. Not possible. west will clone a separate instance of nRF Connect SDK to the workspace application's VS Code workspace and use it for the given application.

For more information about these application types, see the nRF Connect SDK documentation about creating an application.

All applications that you create, discover, or add are listed in the Applications View.

Freestanding application creation flow in the extension

A freestanding application is created when you use the standard procedure for creating and building an application. You can also create one using the Create a new application or the Browse samples actions in the Welcome View.

Workspace application creation flow in the extension

A workspace application is created in the following situations:

  • When you add a west manifest file to the VS Code workspace that contains a freestanding application. You can do this by using the Create west workspace action, available from Manage SDKs in the Welcome View. You can also create the west workspace first and add a freestanding application to it, which as a result will become a workspace application.

  • When you create an application using an out-of-tree reference nRF Connect SDK application from an online repository. You can do this by using the Browse application index action, available from Create a new application in the Welcome View. Such out-of-tree reference applications come with their own west workspace.


When you work with a west workspace, the Manage SDKs action is replaced by Open west manifest. You manage the SDK version manually from the west manifest file and you need to use the West Update command to update the SDK version.

Migrating an application to a newer SDK version

With the release of newer nRF Connect SDK versions, you may want to migrate your application. See How to change SDK versions for more information.