Making the Switch from Atom to Visual Studio Code

4 min read

Sept. 29, 2017

Text Editor

I have finally made the jump from Atom to Visual Studio Code as my main editor. I have historically (and still am) a huge fan of Atom, but felt like it was slowing my computer down and had some issues with crashing, losing code, etc. This could 100% be user error, but I decided it was time to maybe check a different editor out. I had used Sublime Text before Atom but after a bunch of my friends recommended VS Code to me I decided to try it out.

Switching your editor is no small task. Most developers use a series of keyboard shortcuts that make their workflow go faster and for things to go smoothly. If you have ever tried to jump on a friend's setup to code, it can often feel like venturing into a foreign land where things work, but not quite the way you want them to. It can be a daunting task to have to try and figure out exactly how to make a new piece of software work how you want it to, especially if you have work to do.

Luckily, I found the switch to VS Code was pretty simple. I feel like the team at Microsoft knew that getting people to switch can be difficult and they went out of their way to make the transition easier. When you first install the program you are almost immediately asked if you want to install packages that switch the hot keys for you based on your preferred editor. They have packages for most major editors, so you don't have to necessarily spend any time learning new hot keys if you don't want to. That being said, I recommend that you do as I think the VS Code shortcuts are really nice and can improve your development experience. 

Now that I have had a bit of time to work with it, I have been able to better collect my thoughts. The editor is by no means perfect (can there ever be one?), but it is really good. I am likely going to be using it as my sole editor moving forward and I really haven't found myself missing Atom.

The Good

It's Built for speed

I feel like everything from the key bindings to the program itself are built with speed in mind. After learning the different bindings, I have been able to build things a bit faster. It also don't suck up my RAM like other processors, which is nice when I'm simultaneously running any of the Adobe Suite.

Lots of nice packages

I think this is kind of a given for a lot of the editors out there, but it goes without saying that there are a ton of packages that can make your life easier. I personally love having great LESS compiler packages in my editor so I don't have to have any other workflow dependencies. In particular, the linters that are available for most major languages seem to be particularly good.

Git and Command Line are built in

This was something I thought was sort of okay at the beginning, but once I began using it more it was really nice. The user interface for seeing git diffs and conflicts is really useful when working with other people.

The Bad

No MySQL Love?

One of the things I really liked about Atom was being able to access my database directly from the editor when writing a query. It seems like VS Code has really strong support for SQL, but MySQL's current support for this functionality seems limited. If you know of a good package, please let me know

Linter Hell

Remember how I said I love the linting packages for VS Code? I do, but sometimes it can be a pain having to make sure you turn one on or off if you are using different JavaScript libraries. When I first load my code sometimes, all I see is a sea of red squiggly lines telling me my syntax is wrong. I think you would have this problem with any editor, but it's just something I have been noticing lately.

Overall, I'm really liking using something new that feels like it has the end user's interests at heart. Have you made the switch recently? I'd love to hear about it.