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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

I am now using almost an IDE

I have long been a pro­po­nent of sim­ple text ed­i­tors.

Not for me was emac­s, with its mul­ti­tude of modes and mag­i­cal elisp code to do ev­ery­thing.

Not even vim with its mul­ti­tude of ex­ten­sions achiev­ing mag­i­cal pro­duc­tiv­i­ty with three key­strokes.

Not even would I use the ubiq­ui­tous jet­brains IDE with mag­ic refac­tor­ing that writes code on its own.

No, for twen­ty years or so I have writ­ten my code us­ing a plain text ed­i­tor. Un­til re­cent­ly, that meant kwrite. Not even kate. Kwrite, the one that is slight­ly more pow­er­ful than notepad.

But then I got a new job, and ev­ery­one us­es an IDE so I start­ed think­ing... I must be miss­ing some­thing.

Be­cause if ev­ery­one is do­ing it dif­fer­ent­ly from you, then one of the fol­low­ing things is like­ly to be true:

  • ev­ery­one is wrong
  • it's pure­ly an opin­ion thing and it does­n't mat­ter much
  • you are miss­ing out

You know you are old once you as­sume the first. Since I am go­ing through some sort of weird mid life cri­sis I am forc­ing my­self to choose the last op­tion most of the time. So, I start­ed try­ing out stuff. Which is why I no longer use bash. Or uni­ty. Or KDE. But those are sto­ries for some oth­er bon­fire, this one is about my text ed­i­tor midlife cri­sis.


It's huge. And slow. Like, re­al­ly slow. And the ex­ten­sion qual­i­ty is very un­even. For ex­am­ple, all the ter­mi­nals felt wrong.

Once it start­ed drag­ging af­ter be­ing open for a cou­ple of days... well, I re­moved it and smug­ly went back to my old work­flow.

And then I tried...


The ex­ten­sion qual­i­ty was soooo much bet­ter! And some are just awe­some. The way you can choose a vir­tualenv in­ter­preter for a project is awe­some.

Com­pared to Atom it's down­right snap­py!

The on­ly things I did not like were:

  • So much mag­ic in place, some­times things on­ly worked in the IDE.
  • Too slow to start, so I still had to use a plain text ed­i­tor for ca­su­al ed­it­s.
  • At one point, things start­ed to rot, and func­tions that had been work­ing fine start­ed to mis­be­have.

So then I had my goldie­locks mo­men­t...


I was ex­pect­ing to hate it. It's called Vis­ual Stu­dio! It comes from Mi­crosoft! It's elec­tron-based like Atom!

Yet, I loved it at first sight.

Not go­ing to go over many de­tails be­cause I am not in the busi­ness of con­vinc­ing peo­ple of things but here are some of the high­light­s:

  • Good python sup­port, in­clud­ing vir­tualen­vs, for­mat­ting, au­to­com­plete, refac­tor­ing, de­bug­ger, etc.
  • Good Go sup­port.
  • Nice ter­mi­nal gad­get! Ctr­l+click to open files men­tioned in the ter­mi­nal!
  • Good mark­down/reSt sup­port in­clud­ing pre­views
  • The "com­pared to work­ing tree" view is ge­nious
  • If you run "vs­code some­file" in the ter­mi­nal, it opens in the cur­rent vs­code.
  • The set­tings mech­a­nism and UX are a great idea.
  • It's fast enough
  • The UI is fair­ly min­i­mal, so most of the time it will look like my pre­vi­ous work­flow used to look: two text files open side by side.
  • Test run­ner in­te­gra­tion is neat.
  • In Ubuntu you can install it as snap install vscode --classic ... takes all of 30 seconds. And it's updated forever.
  • Lots and lots and lots of de­cent qual­i­ty ex­ten­sion­s.

So, all in all it does all the things I liked from the IDE side of the uni­verse while not mak­ing the things I liked from text ed­i­tors less con­ve­nien­t. And that's why I use it now.

gour_atmarama / 2017-07-08 17:34:

Just wonder if you have ever tried SublimeText (3)?

For whatever reasons, atm I use Emacs and pretty happy with it, but I still hold the license for ST3...

Roberto Alsina / 2017-07-08 20:52:

I tried it very briefly, but was not going to pay to really try it.

gour_atmarama / 2017-07-09 12:49:

> I tried it very briefly, but was not going to pay to really try it.

Well, ST3 is fully functinal even without paying for it, except occasional notes about the license. However, not being Electron-based, but native app, it certainly makes a difference - see e.g.

Roberto Alsina / 2017-07-09 14:26:

The points as listed there:

* subl: no need, "vscode" does that.
* Package control: no need, built in
* Settings: looks the same, except without the manual steps, and plus a very useful per-workspace settings layer
* Settings sync: there is an even better sync-via-GH mechanism (plugin)
* Theme: same themes, more or less.
* Sidebar enhancements: already there, some are plugins
* autocompletion / linting /etc: python plugin, works great
* GitGutter: I have that on steroids with gitlens, thanks :-)
* ftpsync: who the hell is still using ftp?
* advancednewfile: have never felt the need to make file creation any faster ;-)
* emmet: it's there
* markdown preview: is there. Also reSt preview. Even asciidoc preview.

And even whole being electron-based, vscode is using all of ~800MB and I know I never will need to run 2 instances of it :-)

Roberto Alsina / 2017-07-08 20:53:

BTW: the tipue search is working now if you want to see how it works with ~2000 pages.

gour_atmarama / 2017-07-09 12:50:

Thanks - it works great!!

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