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Derek Ardolf for Dendron Inc

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Highlights from VSCode 1.59

The open source VSCode project, along with VSCodium1, completed their latest monthly release with v1.592. Let's take a look at some features that the insiders build3 had their impatient, bleeding-edge hands on (before we all forget what 1.59 brought before the upcoming August 2021 release).

Share view state

VSCode users are often bouncing around different files in their workspaces. By default, if you close out a file tab, VSCode doesn't track where you were in that file. This can be annoying if you didn't mean to close out the file, or because you were playing whack a mole with the new new workspace trust popups.

Say hello to shared view states across editor groups4. Editor groups are the windows of tab collections within the VSCode editor5 that grow whenever Split Editor/Open to the Side commands are used. These groups can remember your past so that your rampant mind doesn't need to.

GIF showing the share view state feature with The House on The Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson

Ah yes, that's right, I left off at the pig people.6

Terminal magic tricks

By default, a new terminal can be created with Ctrl+Tilde(~), where it pops up in the bottom as an entryway into the powerful, dark underbelly of shells. VSCode 1.59 highlights some wizardry alternatives.

Create terminals to the side

Are you one of those people who spins a monitor into portrait mode, because of some insatiable love for 90o angles? Maybe you simply prefer tall terminals? Ctrl+Shift+P and Terminal: Create Terminal in Editor Area to the Side7, will be exactly what you're looking for.

GIF showing the creation of terminals to the side, instead of defaulting to the bottom

Drag and drop terminals across windows

How many VSCode windows are sitting open on your desktop? Are you taking notes in one workspace, while continuing your commands in a separate VSCode window? Make your life easier, retain all your in-shell variables, and drag the active terminal from one window to another.

This can be helpful when improving the documentation in one window as active development is happening in another.

GIF showing the drag-and-drop feature of terminals into different VSCode windows

An excellent bonus: remember when typos were just typos? The worst thing that could happen was other people making fun of your lack of oxford comma's. Now, with terminal editors, your typo can shutdown your production database! Fun!

Live preview

The Live Preview extension8, originally released in June, has continued along. For users working in JavaScript land, Live Preview: Show Debug Preview ensures a built-in JavaScript debugger9.

Note that this extension has the warning:

WARNING: this is extension is still under development!

For the brave javascripters among you all, who want the beautiful reflections of instant-progress within the editor, take it for a test drive. Report any issues to the microsoft/vscode-livepreview repo.

Other notables

General tip: Wondering what shortcuts are configured in VSCode? One shortcut to rule them all: Ctrl+K Ctrl+S

  • Or Ctrl+Shift+P -> Preferences: Open Keyboard Shortcuts
  • If you're using an M1 Mac, you should get the latest VSCode 1.59.110 point release, as it addresses a bug where VSCode may crash.
  • A preview feature11 has been added for automatic language detection in unsaved/untitled files. experimentalLanguageDetection12 (search against settings via Ctrl+Comma) can be set to true, which uses an ML model from yoeo/Guesslang13 with the open-source ML library Tensorflow.js14. VSCode is planning for this feature to be true by default in the future, so that code is recognized out-of-box, instead of always relying on the file extension or force Change Language Mode (Ctrl+K M).

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  1. Checkout VSCodium, for the truly MIT-licensed version of the VSCode IDE (with telemetry/tracking disabled). 

  2. VSCode release notes for 1.59, along with release notes for previous monthly releases. 

  3. The VSCode Insiders Build allows users to get VSCode with new features as soon as they are available, rather than at the monthly cadence. 

  4. Read about Shared View State Across Editor Groups in the release notes. 

  5. Read about Editor Groups in the VSCode docs. 

  6. The House on the Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson, is a freely available novel via Project Gutenberg

  7. workbench.action.createTerminalEditorSide provides this functionality, and is an alternative that can be entered after Ctrl+Shift+P

  8. Live Preview is developed by Microsoft, and can be installed via Ctrl+P and ext install

  9. For more information, see latest highlights around Live Preview. Observe the animated bunny stuck waving in an infinite loop, trapped in a simulation. More in-depth information (on the extension, not the bunny) can be found directly within the extension release notes

  10. See all issues addressed in VSCode 1.59.1 on GitHub. For the macOS bug fix, see Perma-hang/crash on M1 MBP with universal build

  11. Normally, release notes include this snippet about preview features and what they are: "Preview features are not ready for release but are functional enough to use. We welcome your early feedback while they are under development." 

  12. Read about Automatic Language Detection of Untitled Files in the release notes. 

  13. Guesslang, by GitHub user yoeo, is an MIT-licensed ML model and Python package that can help detect the programming language of source code. It's been trained on over a million source code files. 

  14. Tensorflow.js makes development and useage of ML available within the browser or Node.js. For more about Tensorflow, checkout the Why TensorFlow page

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