Why I Switched from Visual Studio Code to Sublime Text

Andrew Davis on January 25, 2018

Recently, I switched to using Sublime Text as my main code editor. For over a year, I had been using Visual Studio Code for writing code. The two... [Read Full]
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As a PHP developer I am surprised that you favor Sublime over PHPStorm.


I'm 100% editor based, I've tried PHPStorm but it feels just to heavy for me. Even though I do agree PHPStorm is a great editor and I've got it installed and updated for when the need arises.

But 99.9999% of my time I'm using vim, the other .0001% I'm trying new stuff or learning about the progress of the main editors and IDEs.


Yeah, I use Neovim most of the time, but I use PhpStorm when I want to automatically do a large rename refactor. PhpStorm is impressively accurate and fast for renaming something everywhere it us used. It works well whether you are renaming a method, class, or even an entire namespace along with its' directory.


I tried PHPStorm, but I prefer more lightweight editors. Plus, I wanted to pay for an editor that I can use for more than just PHP.


I actually really love PHPStorm. It's cool and it's just completely awesome. However I've found it's debugger very difficult to setup. I haven't been able to make one successful debug, although, most times, I can read through my code and find issues and it's syntax correction saves a lot of time, but I'd really like to see what's it's debugger can do...


I really like Sublime text. I bought it two years ago. Like you said it's fast.

There is just so many small QoL improvements on VSCode that I switched.

The integrated terminal, the sidebar like you said, Font ligatures (even though the newest version of Sublime has it)

None of these things are really mandatory, but I enjoy them enough for me to make the switch.

I am excited for the next version of Sublime to come out, I bet it's going to be really great. They will improve on all the great stuff from VSCode and Atom, and still make it fast.


I got the developer build of Sublime with font ligatures enabled and it’s really nice. I doubt Sublime will get an integrated terminal, but I already prefer using iTerm as a terminal emulator so that doesn’t bother me. I just want a built in debugger!



If you want a good terminal emulator the above is very nice, support for multiple shells, works with WSL... etc.

I use PHPStorm, Sublime and every now and then VS Code, often simultaneously.

Sublime is great for general hacking, scratch pad, logs and certainly more. It’s package ecosystem can put you on par if not decidedly beyond VS Code however the rise of VS Code has made it difficult to keep up with, that and you need to know Python to extend Sublime where as the plugin API for Code is more familiar to those with reasonable JS experience.

Sublime seemed to stagnate with a long time between releases/innovation at one point. Sleeping on the giants so to speak.

Sublime’s speed is unparalleled, that much is inarguable. It’s low footprint makes it hard to ditch entirely.


TL,DR; VSCode was just not developed with primary support intentions for PHP.

Having worked with the Big Three (Sublime, Atom, VSCode), I can say that VSCode along with some extensions have proven the best for Node.js and front end web projects.

You ever tried writing a plugin for Sublime Text? Ha ha ha 😂


Actually, I have written an extension for Sublime Text. While the documentation of the python API leaves some things to be desired, it's not too difficult.

I have also contributed to a few VS Code extensions. For someone whose main language is JS/TS, it's definitely easier.


If I was doing more TypeScript or React, VS Code would be really appealing. It will become the standard editor for JavaScript frameworks.


The only thing I dislike about VSCode might be something you hinted on with the symbol analysis. Within Atom I feel like the suggestions when typing are almost always exactly what I was looking for.

VSCode seems to have trouble with that, for example it won't even suggest a variable I had just defined one line above.


I tried many editors/IDEs, but never left Sublime. ♡


The issue here is that Sublime is more "Text Editor Plus" and VS Code is "IDE Lite". They aren't exactly comparable; at least not the way people seem to want to IMHO. One is a text editor the other is not.

The quality of life you get with VS Code is something I don't think enough people put enough thought/stock into.

Bottom line is use what you want to use; what works for you. We really should stop trying to directly compare VS Code to Sublime. They are both VERY good tools but they definitely are not the same "class" of tool.


I don’t think any editor is exactly comparable because they each have their own goals. However, most developers pick one to use the majority of the time they are coding. In that sense, Code and Sublime are comparable and it’s important to write about strengths and weaknesses of each so programmers can decide for themselves what they want to use.


Nice comparison. I used Sublime for awhile, switched to Atom about a year and a half ago, and just recently started using VS Code. I can't decide on any of them for sure. What I really need is vssublimatom. :)


I actually use both editors. Sublime Text for quick notes and snippets and for basically all hotfixes when I roughly know what I have to do in which file (subl . just is really fast).

I prefer VSCode in JS-heavy code where I need data from the project context (a task Sublime Text rather sucks at).

However, I have to agree with you that Sublime Text is by far the best jack-of-all-trades text/code editor out there. 👍


I recently switched from VScode to Sublime too.. and I REALLY REALLY REALLY didn't want to do that. I've been using VS code for about 2 years now and have really gotten use to it.. but the lack of speed made it impossible to work with. Maybe when I get a better computer it won't affect my workflow..but as of now, Sublime beats VS code 100x in performance. It hurts to say that but it's the truth


I feel you. I kind of hate the surge in Webkit / Electron apps. They lack the simplicity, speed, and responsiveness of native apps' UIs, scrolling, etc. I totally understand the need, but I'm much happier in apps like Paw and SequelPro than say Slack.


I really like the look of Sublime, but I've stuck with Visual Studio because it has the integrated debugger (I'm developing in Unity 3D). Using one editor is faster than switching between two editors, so no debugger is a deal breaker for me. You mention sublime has debugger plugins which is news to me, how well do they work? Which ones have you tried?


I’ve used this plugin before: github.com/martomo/SublimeTextXdebug. It’s specifically for xdebug/PHP so it won’t work with C#. The plugin works, but isn’t as integrated as VS Code. How do you like using Unity? Is it easier to make games like they say?


I've found a C# and a Unity plugin but I can't find anything that supports debugging. I'll stick with VS for now.
Unity is great, it's incredibly easy to use, and scales well. For beginners and pros, small to big projects. All engines have their problems but Unity makes it very easy. Unreal is a complete pain to use in comparison.

That’s good to know, thanks for responding! I’ve been working on a Swift iOS app which has made me curious about game development. I would like to make a game if the right idea came along.


I've been trying to go back to ST3, but VSCode is simply superior overall in my book. The startup time is a non-argument for me. I can wait two seconds for my editor to open, and the rest of the time, it's fast enough so I never complain.

Besides, Microsoft is doing an amazing job with this editor, and I'm confident the burden of Electron will fade away with time.


If the speed of Electron catches up, then it Code will be really hard to beat.



Thanks for that piece. Helped and inspired us to work on our own, based on our devs' experiences with both VS Code & Sublime, with a focus on JS development:

Teardown: Visual Studio Code VS Sublime (JavaScript Focus)



Woah! I didn't know! Thank you for telling me. Uninstalling it now :-)

I think they removed the telemetry because of bad press, but it’s still concerning it was added in the first place.


Same, that's completely unethical, thanks for the article, removing it too!

If feel bad for using this for self-promotion, but I made a lighter alternative to this plugin, which is called FileManager... Hopefully it'll suit your needs.


Vim: marketplace.visualstudio.com/items...
Based on a guy who also refuses to switch to VSCode because of this (twitter.com/kentcdodds/status/9897...)

Sublime is faster? Sounds correct on paper, but in reality it struggles with very large files where VSCode opens them in seconds. Tried a 500MB text file today. I don't know what MS are doing, but if we lived few centuries back, people would burn them for using black magic.


If you're already using vim keybindings and looking for speed, it's time to try vim itself (or neovim). It's faster, leaner, and built around the keybindings you like, rather than just having a good emulation layer.


I switched from Sublime (which I loved so much that I bought it) to VS Code when it was released first and back after a few days. Like you said, it is fast, has a rock solid feature set and works great. However, if you want some advanced functionality, you need extensions, which are written in Python. I even wrote an extension myself to help my work. Still, Python and the bridge between those languages is obviously slower than a 100% C++ app.

In any case, the second time I tried VS Code, I found a whole new pleasant experience, with a lot of integrated features and a vital ecosystem surrounding it. However, I'm writing more JavaScript/TypeScript than PHP, so VS Code is probably more aimed at me than it is at you.


Definitely agree. VS Code has a heavy focus on JavaScript and will mostly become the standard for JS development.


I strongly resonate with your findings in this article. First thing I do for evaluating any text editor is to see if it support Vim bindings. When I came across Sublime Text and Vintage Mode, I am stuck with it. Although Visual Studio Code's Vim plugin is not bad, but the speed and responsiveness of Sublime Text is unmatched. Thanks for the great read!


I've actually just gone the other way.

I've been using Sublime for +4 years (or is it 5 or 6?) (ROR development) and think it's wonderful.

Just now I am starting the journey of React-Native development. I tried to get started with React-Native using Sublime - but it's just not providing the kind of benefits thats VSCode can.

Maybe there are React-Native plugins for Sublime that I've not found which can deliver a great developer experience - if someone has links please reply.

(I do plan to keep with Sublime for everything else)


Not sure about anyone else, but on my Macbook (about 4 years old), it vs code kills my cpu every time it does its indexing. And, I rely heavily on PHP CS, which runs on every keystroke, without a config option of "lint on save only". I also tried IntelliPhense, which crushes my cpu and locks up the editor. I wonder if building on top of Electron is a good long-term solution, I don't really know, I'm just curious more than anything.


Love the golang support of visual studio code.... which include interaction with a debugger... the terminal is also something that I really appreciated.... however... I don't feel comfortable with electronjs apps..., I also switched back to Sublime text...

another simple text editor is Gedit.... in case you are over Linux/gnome.


I've been with the same setup of sublime for general use, vscode for debugging for a while now

I've opened issues/forum posts for both editors to fill their respective gaps, I find vscode has more gaps particularly in usability, but its debugger has no good substitute

vscode issues that are blockers for me:

Also the intelephense plugin has stopped working for me recently in terms of jumping to functions which is really key functionality for me

Here is the issue on the sublime side:


I got exactly opposite experience in terms of performance, Sublime got so slow on bigger projects that I had to resort to profiling extensions to figure out what slows it down. Ultimately, I failed, and decided to give Code a try, and never looked back.


I bought a license for Sublime and I used it for 1 year...
It is a great editor.
Then I found out about VS code and I never got back to Sublime.
The talk of symbols does not cover the rest of the 90% advantages that goes in favour of VS code.


How ironic! I wrote an article as well about why I left VS Code myself! I save, it distorts the code in JavaScript for me.


At the moment I'm using WebStorm (for Javascript), Eclipse (for Java), VIM (for general text editing), and finally I'm trying out Atom (for Clojure). Installed VSCode recently, but didn't use or study it yet ... it might eventually become a replacement for WebStorm.


Also in flux between Sublime Text and VS Code. Typically end up in Sublime Text due to its speed.


That’s the reason I switched to sublime too I used to use vs code too
Sublime is written in C++ and it’s faster compared to vs code since C++ is a low level language


I have started to like Sublime text as well, i have just started to use Sublime text for my WebDev project but one thing I dont understand is when there is no debugging option built in why choose it i mean I get the point that it is a personal choice but debugging would be a universal need


Good points, but I recently spent a day or 2 to switch from Netbeans and Webstorm to VSCode and setting it all up to my liking, so I'm sticking with it now for the foreseeable future ... switching to a new editor/IDE with its associated 'ecosystem' does cost time and effort. Also tried Atom but didn't fall in love with it ... didn't try Sublime ... life is short and there are only 24 hours in a day :-) ... I do agree that search/symbol analysis is a bit of a weak spot in VSCode but maybe I should spend a bit more time in configuring it.


I don't know how is the situation today, but lack of proper sidebar and panels was the main reason that drove me out of Sublime Text, first to Atom, nowadays more to VSC. But I use Spacemacs for every day development, so I'm probably not exactly normal and average ;)


Hi there,

This is a very naive question, but I am completely new to the coding world, and I am trying to switch over from Sublime Text to Visual Studio code. Is there a way I can move the scripts and data I've collected from ST over to VSC, without messing anything up?

Thank you so much!

Best wishes


At work, I prefer use to Sublime Text because is faster than VS Code. VS Code is a great tool for debugger. I've already learned about debugger on VS Code and I'm really surprise with MS works.


I switched back to Sublime after using Code for some weeks, because it bugged me that many of the "Go To Definition" returned "no definition found..." with any plugin I tried. Sometimes not even the option was there in the context menu. And the "Go To Symbol" command has the same problems...

Also whenever I do open up something in Code after using Sublime, everything feels just a bit slower... Sublime is the Lambo, Code is more like my 12 year old Audi A4 - not bad, but also not great.

It is true that some of Codes options are really great and I miss them in Sublime, but I miss more the other way around.


For who develop with JavaScript, I released a new Sublime Text plugin called JavaScript Enhancement. It offers a lot of features, such as smart auto-complete, real time errors, code refactoring and more! It will turn Sublime Text 3 in a JavaScript IDE like! You can find it on Package Control and here: github.com/pichillilorenzo/JavaScr...


vi binding in sublime is a +reason why i choose sublime text over visual studio code, also sublime text is python heaven, you can go super natural on sublime text if you comfortable in python.


I don't get why super fast starting times and low memory usage is a plus for an editor. Especially when comparing two editors that start in less than a second, this argument always makes me feel like the author is searching for reasons to justify his opinion. Also memory usage even if it was 1GB+ nowadays i don't think a developer should use a computer/laptop with less than 8GB, even along multiple chrome tabs and maybe Spotify and whatever you have running on your maschine, you should still have plenty of RAM left. I get that e.g. Eclipse with up to 10 seconds startup time and 4-8GB of RAM is a bit to much, but maybe someone can explain to me why this is a point of discussion about text editors.


For me, improved speed is a personal preference. Often I will have to open several instances of an editor at the same time and I like that each loads very quickly.


Nice simple comparison. I find myself bouncing between these two from time to time, though I find myself using VSC more since I use node.js extensively.


The conclusion is good. In my case, programming with javascript, VScode provides a complete experience.


I don't think I could ever give up the built-in debugging tool of either PHPStorm or VSCode. Sure, there's the SublimeTextXdebug package but it feels weird.


There is a slight inaccuracy. Sublime text is not written in C++, but in python.


Sublime Text is written in C++, but its plugin system is in Python. news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2822114


You can use more options in sublime sidebar too by installing sideBarEnhancements


(and other)

  • speed sublime = best IDE

Tried both and I ended up going back to Sublime Text 3 only because it's faster. Only downside is that ST3 is too expensive.


Agreed. I used to use Visual Studio but I have since fully switched to Sublime Text. It just feels so smooth and easy to use when you're programming.


Agree! Each tool is best for a specific kind of job! (My favorite editor was sublime, now I am finally switching to Vim, but will use other editors and IDE whenever they suit better!)


I don't use either - but if I had to choose, I'd go with VSC because it's free.


try phpstorm and i bet your next article will be why i switched from sublime to phpstorm :D


I’ve tried PHPStorm, it’s hard to adjust to after getting used to the speed of Sublime. I also did not want to pay for an editor I could only use with PHP, though I can see how the bigger feature set can help.


Very good! I'm still with Sublime Text and I think it's so faster and very easy to work, i'm still learning. Thank you for sharing your opinion about it.😉

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