~ 3 min

Bye, Bye VSCode

...Or the search for more simplicity in software development.

Photo by Gabriel Heinzer on Unsplash

When tools get in the way…

When VSCode came out some 7 years ago, it was refreshing for its simplicity and focus. And the language features were quite advanced, with even debugging and code-completion supported seemingly out-of-the-box.

However after a time using VSCode for all of my deveopment activities, I became more and more annoyed with the “overloaded” nature of the user interface and functionality. Numerous messages from extensions and for updates would always bombard me when opening the tool, violating the number one rule of great tools - don’t get in the way.

Also the layout has always felt unnatural to me - why are vertical tabs a good way of seperating the file, debug and extensions panels? For debugging I always found it handy to have a debug button on a header bar somewhere to start from any file. Why is that not possible in VSCode? It seems that someone decided early on that the layout should be different for different’s sake (redefined), and for that reason alone worth doing (the motto is “Code editing. Redefined.“) Maybe some more refining instead of redefining would help.

Other editors embrace the “less is more” mentality of simplicity and focus (while still offering powerful features). VSCode seems to embrace “more is more,” with overloaded extensions trying to get me to use Azure for all docker files, and multiple extensions competing to lint and prettify my code.

What are my alternatives? I love the simplicity of Ranger + Nano for editing files directly in a bash console. Ranger is a VIM-inspired file manager that runs directly in the terminal, and nano is the simplest but good-enough text editor ever.

Ranger file manager nano for text editing

Can everything be done using nano? No, sometimes an IDE is a big help for code-completion, linting, debugging, etc.. For that I’ve switched to using VSCodium for any larger projects. The biggest advantage, for me, that VSCodium offers is to NOT be annoying with update reminders, and just shows a little star next to the settings icon to signify updates to be downloaded. Amazing! Unobtrusive, clear, non-annoying. Bugging users about updates is just such an awful user-experience - that’s why I think Chrome and chromeOS just do it automatically in the background - and generally not annoying users about such routine things is a good policy for tools that want to be a part of our daily work routines.

VSCodium

I must say that’s my biggest reason for leaving VSCode - the annoying update messages and constant pestering. And also the desire to just have a simpler editing experience for the 80% of tasks where I don’t need a full IDE. Using ranger+nano has been really fun - learning the shortcut keys, living in text basically, and having everything just move fast.