Microsoft Visual Studio Code – my new favourite IDE

Well here’s a turnout for the books. Who’d have thought that I’d be switching most of my development environment over to a Microsoft product?

I’ve been using Dreamweaver for quite a few years now, almost always for the code environment and it’s ability to gather files together in projects nicely, but in my investigations into PHP Symfony (still ongoing!) I got annoyed that I couldn’t seem to make Dreamweaver format .twig code nicely. This is what Symfony uses to create templates, so being able to easily read that among the HTML in the .twig file was fairly essential.

After a bit of searching I came across someone on StackExchange extolling the virtues of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code IDE so I thought I’d dip in.

It’s fab. Genuinely nice.

A really lightweight and flexible IDE that is very extensible and splits files up into projects (workspaces) for easy management, AND it’s cross platform compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac. I’m honestly surprised that this is something that MS has produced and spent a good week looking for any potential catches before moving wholesale over to using it. As well as being able to manage my Git repo’s directly from the editor I’ve installed a number of QoL extensions which have proved invaluable:

  • Debugger For Chrome – really handy tool for debugging JavaScript using breakpoints with the Chrome Browser
  • Easy SASS – autocompiles SASS files on the fly in workspaces
  • Git History – nice visual representations of git logs
  • MSSQL – connect workspaces to MSSQL databases
  • MySQL – same as above but for MySQL; I use this more often and in tandem with my existing WAMP environment
  • PHP Debug – requires XDebug to be installed, but allows you to set up in editor breakpoints to interrogate variables and the like. Very handy indeed.
  • Rainbow CSV – highlights individual columns in CSV files for wase of reading
  • Twig Language 2 – provides snippets, syntax highlighting and more for .twig files

You can grab it from the VS Code website here.

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