5 Things I Love About Visual Studio Code

Selvin Ortiz / March 14, 2017

A code editor is a very personal thing.

Having the ability to customize the way it looks, the way it feels, and the way it works, is extremely important to me.

That is why I’ve been a huge fan of Sublime Text for so long, and why I feel it’s still a very solid editor.

But this post is about VS Code, the editor I’ve been using daily for the past few weeks.

I’ve really enjoyed working with it and I think you should check it out.

Here are 5 reasons why:

I keep the sidebar hidden most of the time, but when I need it visible, it’s nice to have a sidebar that:

  • has full file io functionality
  • has customizable key bindings
  • has customizable Icon Themes

Terminal #

I use the terminal as much as I use my editor and IDE. I consider the terminal, one of the most important tools in my development workflow.

As tooling for web development evolves, it’s becoming harder —if not impossible— to do anything without touching the terminal.

In VS Code, you get a complete terminal emulator, out of the box. It works better than anything I found in Sublime Text or Atom. It’s pretty much on par with the terminal in PHPStorm.

Debugging #

VS Code makes debugging available out of the box. It works for a bunch of languages and it’s configured via a simple JSON file.

For instance, if you have XDebug installed, you can open the debug sidebar, add the PHP config, and start debugging.

It might not be at the same level as PHPStorm, but it’s definitely beyond what I’ve been able to set up in other editors. If anything, it can help you get away from the dump and die debugging:)

Extension Development #

The extensibility of the editor is among the first things I evaluate when trying a new one out.

VS Code —like Sublime Text and Atom— can be extended with new themes, snippets, languages, and more.

In VS Code, they are called extensions and they are fun to write.

The setup and tooling for extension development in VS Code are best-in-class. You can write them in TypeScript or JavaScript, rather than Python or CoffeeScript, as is the case for Sublime Text and Atom respectively.

Documentation is not bad either, and the samples they provide can get you started quickly if you’ve written extensions/​plugins for other editors.

You also have the ability to convert Textmate Bundles to VS Code extensions.

Here are some of the tools provided by VS Code for extension development:

Speed and UI #

VS Code is not as fast as Sublime Text but it feels faster than Atom. I’m not sure why it’s faster than Atom, they are both built on Electron. It may be that Code uses TypeScript and makes small optimizations, but it’s hard to say.

Either way, Code can look very sexy —as can Sublime Text and Atom— but it feels snappy too. Font rendering across multiple platforms is excellent.

Give it a try #

It’s too early for me to evangelize VS Code as I’ve done with Sublime Text and PHPStorm, but you should at least check it out. If you’re happy with Sublime Text or Atom, stick with it. VS Code will be there when you outgrow them;)