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Can we publish code directly from Visual Studio to Sitecore Instance(Sitecore 7.2) or we need to install Sitecore Rocks?

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You don't need Sitecore Rocks for any Sitecore Version.

Sitecore Rocks is a Visual Studio extension and gives developers a fast, streamlined development experience by letting them use the tools that they are familiar with. This will increase productivity.

Is NOT mandatory to install on your Visual Studio but it will help developers to be more productive.

Sitecore Rocks is installed on developers machine where you have Visual Studio installed and not on QA, Prod environments ?

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Sitecore Rocks does not require to publish code, you can do publish via publish tool from Visual Studio https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/deployment/quickstart-deploy-to-a-web-site?view=vs-2019

You use Sitecore Rocks to develop exclusively for SPEAK applications. You cannot use the Content Editor or other related tools. This topic explains how to get started using Sitecore Rocks for SPEAK development.

You can find more detail about Sitecore Rocks here https://doc.sitecore.com/developers/speak/90/speak/en/visual-studio-and-sitecore-rocks.html

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