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Wouter Van Schandevijl
Pragmatic Tip #22 : Use A Single Editor Well
A Sublime Goodbye
2019-07-18 00:00:00 +0200
Blog post series on all things VSCode I encountered during my switch from Sublime Text 3.
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Photo by Scott Webb
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Some fancy rainbow IDE I ended up with 🌈 🌈
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A curated list of delightful VS Code packages and resources.
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VSCode Marketplace
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Visual Studio Code
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Bug with Markdown All in one extension and Autohotkey hotstrings (workaround {Sleep 250})

VSCode Editor{: .webfeedsFeaturedVisual }

Pragmatic Tip 22: The editor should be an extension of your hand; make sure your editor is configurable, extensible, and programmable.

As a long time Sublime user, the infrequent updates and missing support for new-ish stuff started to become quite apparent. Like all plugin maintainers have turned to Visual Studio Code.

And so I finally decided to leave Sublime Text 3 behind. Welcome Visual Studio Code, the new goto editor.

Getting Started

choco install vscode

{% include kbd k="Control+K,Control+R" l="Help: Keyboard Shortcuts Reference (pdf)" %}

{% include kbd k="Control+Shift+P" l="Show All Commands, and follow with:" %} - [`Help: Documentation`]( - `Help: Interactive Playground`: Learn about refactoring, formatting, snippets and more - [`Help: Introductory Videos`]( - [`Help: Tips and Tricks`](



VSCode stores your configuration in %APPDATA%\Code\User:

  • settings.json
  • keybindings.json
  • snippets

Per workspace settings are stored in a .vscode folder:

  • tasks.json: Task Runner
  • launch.json: Debugger

Extensions are stored in %USERPROFILE%\.vscode\extensions.

I've got my own dotfiles that include settings but VSCode got you covered with a plugin that saves it as a Github GIST (example). {% include github-stars.html url="shanalikhan/code-settings-sync" desc="Synchronize your Settings using Github GIST" %}

Making it your own

{% include kbd k="Control+Shift+P" l="Show All Commands" %}

  • Preferences: Open Settings (UI): A pretty UI for common settings (Control ,)
  • Preferences: Open Settings (JSON): See all default settings and all your overrides (with intellisense!)
  • Preferences: Open Keyboard Shortcuts: Searchable list with very convenient UI to assign shortcuts (Control K, Control S)
  • Preferences: Open Keyboard Shortcuts (JSON): See all possible shortcuts (with comments) and your overrides


    // Your settings
    "files.encoding": "utf8",
    "[ahk]": {
        // Your overrides for Authotkey
        "files.encoding": "utf8bom"

Starting VSCode

List of the Core CLI options

  • -n or --new-window: Opens new instance instead of restoring previous session
  • --add <dir>: Add folder(s) to the last active window for a multi-root workspace
  • -d or --diff: Open diff view with two file paths as arguments
  • -g file:line:column: Open file optionally at specific line and column
  • --install-extension: Also uninstall, disable and list. Whole list.

Start from PowerShell

$ide = "C:\Users\$($env:username)\AppData\Local\Programs\Microsoft VS Code\bin\Code.cmd"
function Start-VSCode {
	if ($args.length -eq 0 -or $null -eq $args[0]) {
		& $ide --new-window

	$folder = Resolve-Path $args
	& "$ide" --new-window "$folder"
Set-Alias cde Start-VSCode

Start from Windows Explorer Context Menu

Available during installation but here is the reg file if you want to add it later on (check the path inside the reg).

Start from VSCode

{% include kbd k="Control+K,O" l="Open active file in new instance" %} {% include kbd k="Control+K,R" l="Reveal active file in Windows explorer" %} {% include kbd k="Control+K,P" l="Copy path of active file" %}

Start from git

# ~/.gitconfig
    editor = code --wait

	tool = vsc
[mergetool "vsc"]
	cmd = code --wait $MERGED

    tool = vsc
[difftool "vsc"]
    cmd = code --wait --diff $LOCAL $REMOTE


alt{: .img-responsive}

{% include kbd k="F11" l="View: Toggle Full Screen" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Q" l="View: Quick Open View" %}

{% include kbd k="Control+K,Z" l="View: Toggle Zen Mode (2xESC to exit)" %}

Some Zen Mode settings:

// settings.json
    "zenMode.hideLineNumbers": false,
    "zenMode.hideActivityBar": false,
    "zenMode.hideStatusBar": false,
    "zenMode.hideTabs": true,

Activity Bar

{% include kbd k="Control+Shift+E" l="Explorer" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+G" l="Source Control" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+D" l="Debug" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+X" l="Extensions" %}

Custom shortcut: - `Control K, Control A`: View: Toggle Activity Bar Visibility

Side Bar

{% include kbd k="Control+B" l="View: Toggle Side Bar Visibility" %} {% include kbd k="Control+à" l="View: Focus into Side Bar" oem="0" %}

    // By default VSCode tracks the current file in the Explorer.
    "explorer.autoReveal": false,

    // Drag & Drop
    "explorer.enableDragAndDrop": true,
    "explorer.confirmDragAndDrop": false,
    "explorer.confirmDelete": false,

    // Hide from Explorer
    "files.exclude": {
        "node_modules/**": true,
        ".sass-cache": true,

Custom shortcuts:

  • Shift Alt L: File: Reveal Active File in Side Bar
  • Control K, Control N: View: Next Side Bar View
  • Control K, Control B: View: Previous Side Bar View
  • Control E, Control F: File: Collapse Folders in Explorer


{% include kbd k="Control+J" l="View: Toggle Panel" %} {% include kbd k="Control+shift+Y" l="View: Debug Console" %} {% include kbd k="Control+ù" l="View: Toggle Integrated Terminal" oem="backtick" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+U" l="View: Toggle Output" %}

Custom shortcuts: - Remapped: `Control Alt ù`: View: Toggle Integrated Terminal (Conflicted with Cmder) - View: Next Panel View


{% include kbd k="Control+F" l="Find (Navigate with F3)" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+F" l="View: Show Search (Navigate with F4)" %} {% include kbd k="Control+H" l="Replace" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+H" l="Search: Replace in Files" %}

Once searching: - `Alt Enter`: Select all matches - `Control Alt Enter`: Replace all matches - `Control Shift 1`: Replace one - `Alt C`: Toggle Case Sensitive - `Alt R`: Toggle Regex - `Alt W`: Toggle Full Word

Toggle files to include/exclude (Control Shift J)

  • Use / slashes
  • Separate paths with ,
  • Prefix with ! to negate
  • Globbing
    • *: Match x characters in path segment
    • **: Match 0..x path segments
    • ?: Match one character
    • {**/*.css,**/*.scss}: Group conditions
    • [0-9a-z]: Match range of characters


    "search.exclude": {
        "**/node_modules": true,
        "**/dist": true,
    "search.location": "panel", // or: sidebar
    "search.showLineNumbers": true,
    // Search case-insensitively if the pattern is all lowercase, otherwise, search case-sensitively.
    "search.smartCase": false,
    "search.useGlobalIgnoreFiles": true, // Use global .gitignore
    "search.usePCRE2": true, // Use the PCRE2 regex engine (as supported by JavaScript)
                             // Required for backreferences and lookarounds

    "editor.find.seedSearchStringFromSelection": false,
    "editor.find.addExtraSpaceOnTop": false,

Custom shortcuts:

  • Search: Collapse All
  • Search: Toggle Search View Position (panel / sidebar)


I'm still using Cmder for all my CLI needs so I haven't really configured the Terminal much. There is this pretty blog post for more Terminal info.

{% include kbd k="Control+ù" l="View: Toggle Integrated Terminal" oem="backtick" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+ù" l="Terminal: Create New Integrated Terminal" oem="backtick" %} {% include kbd k="Control+Shift+5" l="Terminal: Split Terminal" %}

Integrate Cmder into VSCode

// settings.json
    "": "cmd.exe",
    "": [


Stored in .vscode\tasks.json in your workspace path.

Control+Shift+P > Tasks: Configure Task > Create tasks.json file from template

    "tasks": [{
        "label": "Compile Markdown",
        "type": "shell",
        "command": "markdown-it -o sample.html",
        "group": "build"

There are templates for: .NET Core, MSBuild and Maven.
And of course there are extensions for Gulp , Cake , CMake , etc


The main reason for the migration was the VSCode Marketplace. Sublime still can't handle the React Fragment <></> syntax. And this one project I used Vue on, well... the VSCode plugins were just superb while ST3 failed me again.

Usually all you have to do is open a new file extension and VSCode will jump to the opportunity to have you install yet a few more extensions 😃

{% include kbd k="Control+Shift+X" l="Search Extensions in Marketplace" %}

The builtin search functionality is pretty slick. You will usually be able to find what you want. Type a @ to get a list of filters on category, enabled/disabled, recommended, to sort etc.

For example, Vetur only comes up at #7 when searching for "Vue" but soars the skies when searching for vue @sort:installs.

Find your newly installed extension with Control Shift P. All its settings now show up in your defaultSettings.json. A (Gears) appears in the Side Bar after installation below the (Stars) of the installed extension. Click to configure it :)


{% include kbd k="Control+K,Control+T" l="Preferences: Color Theme (Search: @category:themes)" %}

Also: Preferences: File Icon Theme

Some Projects

(that don't show up pretty instantaneously when opening a file)

{% include github-stars.html url="ritwickdey/vscode-live-server" desc="Launch a development local Server with live reload feature for static & dynamic pages." %} {% include github-stars.html url="Huachao/vscode-restclient" desc="REST Client" %}

For The Web

{% include github-stars.html url="ChristianKohler/PathIntellisense" desc="Autocompletes filenames" %} {% include github-stars.html url="ChristianKohler/NpmIntellisense" desc="Autocomplete npm modules in import statements" %} {% include github-stars.html url="wix/vscode-import-cost" desc="Display the import size of the package you are importing inside the code editor" %} {% include github-stars.html url="lannonbr/vscode-js-annotations" desc="Add parameter name annotations to function calls" %} {% include github-stars.html url="britesnow/vscode-toggle-quotes" desc="Simple cycling quotes toggler" %}

{% include github-stars.html url="vincaslt/vscode-highlight-matching-tag" desc="Highlights matching opening or closing Html tags" %} {% include github-stars.html url="zignd/html-css-class-completion" desc="CSS class name completion for the HTML class attribute based on the CSS files in your workspace " %} {% include github-stars.html url="pranaygp/vscode-css-peek" desc="Peek at CSS definitions from a class or id tag in Html" %} {% include github-stars.html url="leehooi/vs-color-picker" desc="Select any color on the screen" %}

And all linters, formatters etc you can think of...

Making things stand out more

{% include github-stars.html url="oderwat/vscode-indent-rainbow" desc="Show indentation with a faint rainbow colored background" %} {% include github-stars.html url="aaron-bond/better-comments" desc="Make TODO's really shout out 😃" %} {% include github-stars.html url="CoenraadS/Bracket-Pair-Colorizer-2" desc="Bracket Colorizer" %} {% include github-stars.html url="johnpapa/vscode-peacock" desc="Subtly change the color of your Visual Studio Code workspace, ideal for multi VSCode instances." %} {% include github-stars.html url="IBM-Cloud/vscode-log-output-colorizer" desc="Syntax colorization for both the output/debug/extensions panel and *.log files." %}

    "workbench.tree.indent": 32,
    "workbench.editor.highlightModifiedTabs": true,


Very glad I made the switch. It was quite the effort but I'm pretty content already. Still need to configure linting, formatting, languages setup and also fix the occasional kink in my setup but the overall experience is already way beyond Sublime Text.

Aside from being a pretty great IDE out of the box, it's the plugins that really make VSCode shine. Not only the quality offered but also the ease of actually finding them in the marketplace and their configuration afterwards.

Final score: 👍 👍 👍 🌈 🌈 {: style="text-align: center; margin-top: 32px; font-size: 23px;"}

Next up: [VSCode: Editor Configuration and Shortcuts]({{ '/blog/dev-setup/vscode-editor' | relative_url}})

Promise to self

If I ever need to change again because of slowed down development or a dying community, it will be for an editor that will (hopefully!) outlive them all, you know, something like Vim.

Sublime Text? Real Americans Use Vim