by Chiamaka Ikeanyi

How to set up VSCode to improve your productivity

Code editors have evolved over the years. A few years ago, there was no Visual Studio Code (VS Code). You were probably using Sublime Text, Atom, Bracket, etc. But with the release of VS Code, it has become the favourite code editor of most developers.

Why VS Code?

Developers love it because

  • It’s customizable
  • Easy Debugging
  • Emmet
  • Extensions
  • Git Integration
  • Integrated terminal
  • Intellisense
  • Theming and more…

Now that you’ve seen the advantages of using VS Code, this article will cover VS Code setup and extensions needed when using VS Code for maximum productivity.

Terminal

You can set up your terminal to use iTerm2 and ZSh and have your VS Code terminal setup to use that.

After configuring Zsh, launch the VS Code integrated terminal Terminal > New Terminaland run the command

source ~/.zshrc

or

. ~/.zshrc

to execute the content of the .zshrc configuration file in the shell.

Font

FiraCode looks cool because of the support for ligatures. Download and install FiraCode, then add it to your settings.json file.

"editor.fontFamily": "Fira Code","editor.fontLigatures": true,

Launching from the command line

Launching VS Code from the terminal looks cool. To do this, press CMD + SHIFT + P, type shell command and select Install code command in path. Afterwards, navigate to any project from the terminal and type code .from the directory to launch the project using VS Code.

Configuration

VS Code configurations not specific to a workspace are housed within the settings.json. You can configure VS Code to suit your preferences.

To launch the settings.json, press

CMD + ,

Copy and paste the code below within the settings.json file:

{    "editor.multiCursorModifier": "ctrlCmd",    "editor.formatOnPaste": true,    "editor.wordWrap": "bounded",    "editor.trimAutoWhitespace": true,    "editor.fontFamily": "Fira Code",    "editor.fontLigatures": true,    "editor.fontSize": 14,    "editor.formatOnSave": true,    "files.autoSave": "onFocusChange",    "emmet.syntaxProfiles": {        "javascript": "jsx"    },    "eslint.autoFixOnSave": true,    "eslint.validate": [        "javascript",        "javascriptreact"    ],    "javascript.validate.enable": true,    "git.enableSmartCommit": true,    "files.trimTrailingWhitespace": true,    "editor.tabSize": 2,    "gitlens.historyExplorer.enabled": true,    "diffEditor.ignoreTrimWhitespace": false,    "workbench.sideBar.location": "right",    "explorer.confirmDelete": false,    "javascript.updateImportsOnFileMove.enabled": "always",}

Extensions

Below are useful extensions that can improve your developer experience when working on a codebase.

To access these extensions,

  • Go to View -> Extensions
  • Search for extensions in the marketplace
  • Click on Install

1. Auto Import

With this extension, you don’t need to manually import files. If you are working on a component-based project, just go ahead and type the component name and it will be automatically imported.

2. Add jsdoc comments

This adds a comments block to the code. To use it, highlight the first line of the function, press CMD + SHIFT + P and select Add Doc Comments.

3. ESDoc MDN

In certain scenarios, we tend to forget how a particular thing works. This is where this extension becomes useful. You don’t need to launch your web browser to find out the syntax. All you need is to type

//mdn [object].[method];

4. CSS Peek

As the name implies, this helps you peek on rules applied by a defined style within a codebase and its specificity. It comes in handy when working on legacy codebases.

5. GitLens

GitLens boosts what you can achieve with Git. It helps you to do a lot more, such as seamlessly exploring Git repositories, peeking into code revisions, authorship and much more.

6. ESLint

This integrates ESLint into VS Code to lint your codes. The project you are working on needs to have ESLint installed either locally or globally to take advantage of the features this extension offers.

To install ESLint locally, run

npm install eslint

or globally using

npm install -g eslint

You would also need to create .eslintrc configuration file. If you installed ESLint locally, run

./node_modules/.bin/eslint --init

or

eslint --init

for global installation.

7. Debugger for Chrome

This lets you debug your JavaScript code right from the Google Chrome browser

8. Google Fonts

Adding Google fonts just got easier with this extension. You no longer need to search for fonts in the browser. To access a list of fonts, pressCMD + SHIFT + P and search for Google fonts to proceed.

9. TODO Highlight

With a lot to work on which needs to be prioritized, sometimes you may tend to forget tasks yet to be completed. TODO highlight makes these easily seen by highlighting them.

10. Docker

You can create Dockerfiles on the fly with this extension. It also provides syntax highlighting, intellisense and much more.

Press CMD + SHIFT + P and search for Add Docker files to workspace.

11. Code Spellchecker

This comes in handy to identify typographical errors within the codebase.

12. Import Cost

Import Cost shows the impact of imported packages within the code. It helps measure performance bottlenecks.

13. HTMLHint

This extension validates your HTML helping you to write standards-compliant code.

14. Peacock

This extension gives you the ability to change the colour of your workspace. It is ideal when you have multiple VS Code instances and you want to quickly identify a particular instance.

After installing Peacock, click on the settings icon > settings, select workspace settings tab, click on {} and paste the code below.

{    "workbench.colorCustomizations": {        "activityBar.background": "#e90b8d",        "activityBar.foreground": "#fff",        "activityBar.inactiveForeground": "#b5b5b5",    },    "peacock.affectedElements": [        "activityBar",    ]}

You can also add titleBar and statusBar to the affectedElements and add color customizations for them within the colorCustomizations section.

To use one of the default colors, press CMD + SHIFT + P, type peacock and select your preferred theme. This overrides the color settings within the settings.json file defined for that workspace.

15. Prettier

Do you always press the spacebar or tab key when coding? Here comes Prettier to the rescue. It formats lines of code and makes it readable.

Check out the awesome things you can do with Visual Studio Code here.

Feel free to drop what works for you in the comment section and share this article.

Also, check out my blog for more articles.