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5 Code Snippet Managers That Will Change The Way You Write Code

tomlangdon profile image Thomas Langdon Originally published at Medium on ・5 min read

We all know the feeling, you are working on a new app and you need to do something you’ve already done 100 times before, but you can’t quite remember how you did it. You go and dig through your previous app for the snippet of code you need, but you can’t find it in there. Maybe it’s in this site, or the other one?

20 minutes of searching later and you finally find what your looking for but that was 20 minutes you could have used for something more productive if you had a code snippet manager.

What Is A Code Snippet Manager?

Code snippet managers are the solution to reusable code. They let you save a library of commonly used snippets of code, either in the cloud or locally on your machine, and keeps them organised and ready to use. The good ones will have a mini editor with proper syntax highlighting and support for multiple languages, the REALLY good ones will let you group snippets, link them together and share them with your friends/co-workers.

Whichever option is right for you, a snippet manager should save you time, enable proper re-using of code and make sure you never lose an important bit of code again. Have a look below at the five best options I found and supercharge your coding workflow.

#1 Best All-Round: 3Cols

3Cols snippet manager interface preview
One of the best features of 3Cols is it’s fantastic built-in editor

Why waste your time and put the best option last in an article all about how to save you time. 3Cols is by far the best option I have found and is in-fact the reason I created this list when I found a post about it here on Reddit. They claimed to be the best option in the space, and I wanted to find out for myself. But the claim seems to hold up.

Pros:

  • Unlimited private snippets for free
  • Best categorisation options on the list
  • Fully featured editor
  • Lighting fast
  • Works on web or installed on almost any platform

Cons

  • No integration with browsers or IDE (yet)
  • Sharing requires a premium subscription ($1.69 a month)

It really is no competition here, there is no other option that stores your snippets privately on the cloud, works both locally and on the web and all for free. Not only that but if you do end up sharing your snippets (I fully recommend creating a collaborative board between you and your developer friends) it costs only $1.69 a month — over 3 times cheaper than the next cheapest option. The only drawback here is their lack of integration with any IDE’s or, less importantly, a browser extension to easily save snippets, but according to the Reddit post I mentioned, both of these features are coming in the future, so watch this space!

#2 Most Integrated: Your IDE!

Visual studio snippet manager interface preview
The availability of visual studio’s snippet manager struggles to make up for the clunky interface

If you are looking for something easy to use with minimal setup then most IDE’s worth their salt have a simple snippet manager built in, or at least have extensions to do so.

Pros:

  • Minimal Setup
  • Never have to leave your IDE
  • Always free

Cons:

  • Very Limited Features
  • Often not backed up on the cloud
  • Interfaces can be somewhat slow/clunky

Although they are easy to set up and use they don’t come without drawbacks and they probably shouldn’t be used as much more than a first step into the world of snippet managers. A few of the options on this list have their own IDE extensions to offer a similar feature anyway.

#3 Best Extensibility: Snipit

Snipit interface preview
Great integration and favourites/tags are the stand out features of Snipit

If you want the luxury of never having to leave your IDE as with the option above, but you also want cloud backups, a richer feature set and a browser extension to easily save snippets you find around the web then Snipit is the option for you.

Pros:

  • VS Code extension for seamless integration
  • Multiple browser extensions to easily save snippets
  • Unlimited public snippets for free
  • Favourites and tags make finding specific snippets easier

Cons:

  • Creating private snippets requires premium (€7.00 per month)
  • Only has one level of categorisation
  • Layout isn’t very responsive on smaller screens

Overall all Snipit is a good choice with excellent integration, but if you care about keeping your snippets private then you need to be ready to cough up the hefty €7.00 a month required to do so and to organise them all with only one level of grouping.

#4 Biggest Name: GitHub Gists

Gists snippet manager interface preview
The backing of a big name can only go so far to help you ignore how painfully slow Gists are to navigate

Sometimes having the reliability that comes with a company like GitHub is very important, and the version control and API that come with Gists are an excellent addition but you had better be prepared to wait for them.

Pros:

  • Backed by GitHub so stability and reliability aren’t a worry
  • Version control can be useful in certain conditions
  • API access gives you a whole new way of working with your snippets

Cons:

  • Painfully slow to navigate between snippets with a fill page load each
  • Very Limited Categorisation
  • Sharing is very clunky

I feel like the only thing holding Gists back from being a candidate for my top pick is how slow it is to move between your snippets. The fact that each snippet requires a full page load to view is a deal breaker for me, and the fact that sharing private Gists requires a link with no sort of browse-able repository is another nail in the coffin.

#5 Best Local App: Snippets Lab

Snippets Lab interface preview
The fantastic interface, organisation and inclusion of an easy to use assistant make this a standout option

It wouldn’t feel right to not include this option in the list as the local app is fully featured, with excellent organisation, a searchable assistant available at all times, Gist Integration and an excellent interface. The only problem is that it’s not available as a web app, with limited syncing options and the real kicker… it’s mac OS only.

Pros:

  • Fantastic interface
  • Great organisation
  • Searchable assistant for easy to access snippets

Cons:

  • Local only with limited sync options
  • Only available on mac OS

If this option was available as a web app it would have been the obvious choice for my top pick, and if you only need access to snippets on one machine and the machine happens to be running mac OS then it should be yours, but if not it’s not a viable option.

Conclusion

There is an option available for everyone here and I urge you to use one of them, set up a collection and share it with your developer friends. The instant access to a whole library of snippets will revolutionise the way in which you write code.

Discussion

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Adrian Matei

As creator of Bookmarks.dev, I use it to manage my code snippets. To save them I use bookmarklets and an IntelliJ plugin (a visual studio extension is planned in the near future). I organize them by tags which makes full text searching with rating very easy… It is open-source and free.

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Jakob Strauß

Great list! Exactly what I was looking for. 🤩

And I would like to add Lepton which is a free app that displays your GitHub Gists. I think I'll give it a try.