Switching from Sublime Text to Visual Studio Code

Sublime Text logo vs VS Code logo

Like many, if not most, web developers, my IDE of choice for the last half decade has been Sublime Text. Prior to ST, i was using TextWrangler and Notepad++; before that, it was NoteTab Light and code-only mode of Dreamweaver (shudders).

Still odd that i switched to a quasi open source code editor created by Microsoft, of all companies. They’ve made great strides in the last half decade — an almost about face — figuring out a happy medium regarding their own proprietary products and open source.

‘Microsoft, which used to deploy catchy marketing slogans like “Linux is a cancer” and “open source is un-American,” didn’t morph overnight into a cute and cuddly open-source-loving contributor. Rather, the Microsoft that fought open source as an existential threat to its business simply learned to do business in a new, cloudy manner.’

Via InfoWorld

One of these strides includes purchasing GitHub; but that hasn’t gone without backlashworry, and distrust.

Read this thread for why i called Visual Studio Code a “quasi open source” code editor. TLDR: Visual Studio Code and vscode as released on GitHub are technically two separate things.

So, why the switch and what do i like the most about it?

  • I wanted something more “modern”, polished, fast, and not “clunky” like other IDEs; Sublime Text feels outdated compared to VSC, though it is slightly faster
  • Recommends extensions based on the language(s) you write in most. It’s how i started using Apache Conf Snippets and a slew of other extensions: VSC recognized i frequently edited .conf and .htaccess files so it was like, hey, young sir, check this out. Boom.
  • Loving the git integration (right in the sidebar file explorer!), especially the git diff visual tool
    • Been trying to be a better git CLI user, as well as trying what seems like a dozen different git GUI clients to find the one that works for me, but with little luck. VSC is the best combo of the two for me so far.
  • Intellisense out-the-box
  • Has built-in JavaScript debugging, which is pretty cool
    • Attaches to Chrome browser window
  • It’s free. Yes, ST is (not technically) free but the daily, random pop-up to purchase a license is annoying as hell.

Extensions i’m using:

  • vscode-icons – Shows different icons based on file type in your sidebar explorer. I love that i can quickly discern file types AND folders based on their icons.
    vscode-icons in action
  • Spell Right – It’s a spellchecker. Too many times i’ve copied and pasted copy and it ends up having typos in it. This helps.
  • Auto Close Tag – Closes a paired tag automatically. I have it set to Sublime Text mode: once you type ‘</’ it will close the tag. Default mode automatically inserts closing tag once you open a tag.
    Visual Studio Code Auto Close Tag
  • Apache Conf Snippets – Add various snippets for .htaccess files. I’m constantly doing server related things, so instead of checking if i have something in my Gists or Evernote or searching StackOverflow (for hours), i can use these snippets as a starting point.
    Apache Conf Snippet
  • HTML Boilerplate – Self-explanatory; produces a boilerplate for HTML files. Great for when i need to create a simple landing page.
    HTML Boilerplate
  • Settings Sync – Syncs VSC settings across computers. This includes Settings, Snippets, File Icons, Keybindings, etc. (You’ll need a GitHub account, by the way.)
    Code Sync Settings screenshot (Mac)
  • ACF-Snippet – If you’re a WordPress developer like me, you have integrated ACF into your development life pretty heavily. I spend way too much time looking up the code to do routine or rarely used things in ACF. This extension reduces that time. Screenshot shows how typing in field:location:map will produce this bunch of code quickly.
    Screenshot of ACF-Snippet VS Code plugin
  • Auto Rename Tag – Renames opening and closing tags simultaneously.
    Visual Studio Code - Auto Rename Tag extension

I’m still in the nascent stage of using VSC exclusively as my editor — only been a few days — so thoughts may change for better or for worse. I’m sure i’ll be using even more extensions. But so far i am happy with the switch. Oh, and there’s a Sublime Text keybinding extension to make the transition easier.

Let me know in the comments why you made the switch — from or to Visual Studio Code/Sublime Text.


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