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VS Code Setup to Improve Productivity

chiamakaikeanyi profile image Chiamaka Ikeanyi Updated on ・4 min read

Code editors have evolved over the years. A few years ago, there was no Visual Studio Code (VS Code). You were probably using Sublime, Atom, Bracket, etc. But with the release of VS Code, it has become the favourite editor of most software developers.

Why VS Code?

  • Customizable
  • Easy Debugging
  • Emmet
  • Extensions
  • Git Integration
  • Integrated terminal
  • Intellisense
  • Lightweight
  • Theming and more...

Having seen the advantages of using VS Code and awesome things you can do with it, this article will cover VS Code setup and extensions needed when using VS Code from the lens of productivity.

Emmet

Used in many popular text editors, this greatly improves HTML & CSS workflow.
To access this, press CMD + SHIFT + P. Then, search for emmet. This shows a list of actions that can be performed using emmet.

For instance, to display five divs with the class name item, all you need is

  .item{$}*5

Then, press the Enter key. The result is

<div class="item">1</div>
<div class="item">2</div>
<div class="item">3</div>
<div class="item">4</div>
<div class="item">5</div>

Font

FiraCode looks cool as a result of the support for ligatures. It makes your code readable at a glance. Download and install FiraCode, then add it to your settings.json file.

FiraCode

Configuration

You can configure VS Code within the settings.json file to match your preferences.

{
    "editor.multiCursorModifier": "ctrlCmd",
    "editor.formatOnPaste": true,
    "editor.wordWrap": "bounded",
    "editor.trimAutoWhitespace": true,
    "editor.fontFamily": "Fira Code",
    "editor.fontLigatures": true,
    "editor.fontSize": 14,
    "editor.formatOnSave": true,
    "files.autoSave": "onFocusChange",
    "emmet.syntaxProfiles": {
        "javascript": "jsx"
    },
    "eslint.autoFixOnSave": true,
    "eslint.validate": [
        "javascript",
        "javascriptreact"
    ],
    "javascript.validate.enable": true,
    "git.enableSmartCommit": true,
    "files.trimTrailingWhitespace": true,
    "editor.tabSize": 2,
    "gitlens.historyExplorer.enabled": true,
    "diffEditor.ignoreTrimWhitespace": false,
    "workbench.sideBar.location": "right",
    "explorer.confirmDelete": false,
    "javascript.updateImportsOnFileMove.enabled": "always",
}

Launching from the command line

Press CMD + SHIFT + P, type shell command and select Install code command in path.
Afterwards, navigate to any project from the terminal and type code . from the directory to launch the project using VS Code.

Multiple Cursors

You can modify multiple lines of code at the same time. You need to set your preferred access KEY within your settings.json file.

    "editor.multiCursorModifier": "ctrlCmd",

    or

    "editor.multiCursorModifier": "alt",

Terminal

You can set up your terminal to use iTerm2 and ZSh and have your VS Code terminal setup to use that.

Extensions

Below are useful extensions that can improve developer experience when working on a codebase.

To access these extensions,

  • Go to View > Extensions
  • Search for extensions in the marketplace
  • Click on Install

  • Add jsdoc comments

This adds comments block to the code. To use it, highlight the first line of the function, press CMD + SHIFT + P and select Add Doc Comments

  • Auto Import

With this extension, you don't need to manually import files. If you are working on a component-based project, just go ahead and type the component name and it will be automatically imported.

  • Auto Rename tag

Automatically renames paired elements

  • CSS Peek

As the name implies, this helps you peek on rules applied by a defined style within a codebase and it's specificity. It comes in handy when working on legacy codes.

  • Debugger for Chrome

This lets you debug your JavaScript code right from the Google Chrome browser

  • Docker

You can create Dockerfiles on the fly with this extension. It also provides syntax highlighting, intellisense and much more.

Press CMD + SHIFT + P and search for Add Docker files to workspace

  • ESDoc MDN

In certain scenarios, we tend to forget how a particular thing works. This is where this extension becomes useful. You don't need to launch your web browser to find out the syntax. All you need is to type

//mdn [object].[method];
  • ESLint

This integrates ESLint into VS Code to lint your codes. The project you are working on needs to have ESLint installed either locally or globally to take advantage of the features this extension offers.
To install ESLint locally, run npm install eslint or globally using
npm install -g eslint.
You would also need to create .eslintrc configuration file.

If you installed ESLint locally, run
./node_modules/.bin/eslint --init
or eslint --init
for global installation.

  • GitLens

GitLens boosts what you can achieve with Git. It helps you to do a lot more such as seamlessly exploring Git repositories, peeking into code revisions, authorship and much more.

  • Google Fonts

Adding Google fonts just got easier with this extension. You no longer need to search for fonts on the browser. To access a list of fonts, press CMD + SHIFT + P and search for Google fonts to proceed.

  • HTMLHint

This extension validates your HTML helping you to write standards-compliant code

  • Import Cost

Import Cost shows the impact of imported packages within the code. It helps measure performance bottlenecks.

  • Live Server

This launches a local development server with live reload feature.

  • Peacock

This extension gives you the ability to change the workspace color of your workspace. It is ideal when you have multiple VS Code instances and you want to quickly identify a particular instance.

After installing Peacock, click on the settings icon > settings,
select workspace settings tab, click on {} and paste the code below.

    {
        "workbench.colorCustomizations": {
            "activityBar.background": "#e90b8d",
            "activityBar.foreground": "#fff",
            "activityBar.inactiveForeground": "#b5b5b5",
        },
        "peacock.affectedElements": [
            "activityBar",
        ]
    }

You can also add titleBar and statusBar to the affectedElements and add color customizations for them within the colorCustomizations section.

To use one of the default colors, press CMD + SHIFT + P, type peacock and select your preferred theme. This overrides the color settings within the settings.json file defined for that workspace.

  • Prettier

Formats your code and make it readable

  • Polacode

As a technical writer, this comes in handy. It gives you an appealing screenshot of your code snippet.

Step 1: Press CMD + SHIFT + P
Step 2: Select Polacode 📸
Step 3: Copy some code
Step 4: Paste into Polacode view
Step 5: Click the lens-like button below the code view to save
  • TODO Highlight

With a lot to work on which needs to be prioritized, sometimes, you may tend to forget tasks yet to be completed. TODO highlight makes these easily seen by highlighting them.


Feel free to drop what works for you on the comment section and share this article.

Posted on Feb 14 '19 by:

Discussion

markdown guide
 

You can increase your productivity using some more extensions like: -

  1. Bracket match colorizer -> it will color different bracket with a different color so you can identify easily.
  2. auto rename tag -> this will help you a lot if you change one tag and forget to change ending tag.
  3. prop-types -> it will autocomplete the react component props
 

Nice write-up! There's a few extensions I haven't heard of and will check out.

Here's a few extensions I dig:

  • Auto Comment Blocks
  • Auto Rename Tag
  • Babel JavaScript
  • Beautify
  • DotENV
  • Git Project Manager
  • One Dark Pro (theme)
  • Prettier
  • REST Client
  • Sass
  • Settings Sync
  • ...and many more!
 

Thanks for the feedback, Russell. I'll explore extensions on your list

 

Nice article. I would add Color Bracket Pair to the list.

 

Nice write-up. I don't think you need Auto Import extension VS Code shipped with this feature 🎉

 

Can I know the reason behind this? I find the extension helpful

 

VsCode latest versions automatically suggest/import appropriate file.

So that means this extension no longer needed

 

Excellent selection of extension!

I also use Turbo Console Log, Better Comments, Indented Rainbow, Rainbow Brackets and some themes 😄