language, libraries, and the web environment. Every tutorial on react, Vue.js, Electron, you name it, recommends using VS Code. My VS Code experience became even better when I
learned to drop
//@ts-check in every file. VS Code's language support is so
awesome that I highly doubt any other editor will ever seriously compete with it
in that regard. At the same time, I hit a pretty significant pain point
instantly. I use emacs keybindings everywhere, in the shell, browser, you name
it. On OS X, Karabiner mapped those bindings
for me and now on linux laptop with GNOME it is a top-level feature. In VS Code
I found that I was constantly closing the editor accidentally or deleting a
text in a buffer with the most common commands that I use thousands of times a
day. Here are just a few. I probably have >100 in muscle memory.
- M-f forward word
- M-b backward word
- C-w cut text
- M-w copy text
- C-SPACE start a selection
- C-a beginning line
- C-e end of line
- M-a back paragraph
- M-e forward paragraph
- C-s search forward
- C-j Change buffer
- and many more
I found an emacs plugin for VS Code but it only muddled the situation memory as it only supported some commands and then with annoying bugs that made the plugin more trouble than it was worth.
I dropped the emacs plugin and tried to do things the VS Code way. It only kind of worked for me but I soon encountered more hurdles. As a developer, there is a whole set of things we do that are project-related tasks such as:
- Working with git
- Renaming files, moving them around
- Maintaining a personal TODO list and logging errors, troubleshooting information in a personal log
- Executing shell commands
- Writing documentation in markdown, ReST, asciidoc
While VS Code likely has some support for these, I found the VS Code plugins in these areas lacking when I tried them. For example, I found jumping between projects with Project Manager very poor in comparison to Emacs' incredible Projectile. It is important to note that the Project Manager addon may have improved significantly since I last used it a few months ago. The existing git addons also pale in comparison to Emacs' fantastic git interface. counsel-git-grep across a huge codebase truly is a superpower.
I am one of those crazy people that runs a terminal inside of emacs. I even have a keybinding (M-j) that I use to toggle between character and line mode in the terminal. VS Code's terminal is OK but nothing to write home about.
I use Emacs dired mode for manipulating files and directories. It works ridiculously well.
More than magit, projectile, dired, I missed emacs' ivy completion framework more than anything else. You really have to see it to believe it.
So far I have talked a whole lot about the Emacs features that I miss in VS Code. But surely, you ask, won't VS Code implement all of those features even better than Emacs given the VS Code teams extensive developer resources? Maybe, but I would be surprised if they did. I doubt the VS Code team intends to give it a kitchen sink of capabilities that we see in Emacs.
Some of the features tide-mode provides:
- auto-completion (via company-mode)
- syntax-checking (together w/ flycheck)
- documentation at point
- basic refactoring
Here is tide-mode in action
A few notes on using tide-mode:
- You have to install typescript into your projects for it to work optimally. As it leverages the
tsserverthat ships with TypeScript. Note that it does not need to be a project dependency. You can install it thus with
npm install typescript
- I am using Emacs 26. Not sure how well this works with Emacs 25
- I haven't found a good way to fully support JSX in files with a regular
.jsextension. So far I have simply renamed any file containing JSX to
.jsxin order to get web-mode + tide-mode to work properly.
I may be mistaken but I believe the
tsserver that ships with TypeScript was developed by the same team that makes VS Code. It is not without irony that the Emacs mode I am using to replace of VS Code depends on software developed by the VS Code team.
VS Code is an excellent IDE and I would recommend any new software developer to use it. But with the excellent tide-mode, I no longer need to.
P.S. I haven't figured out a great solutions for the following and would love to hear from you the readers.
- Debugging - I still use VS Code but have looked into ndb. Don't know yet if it is a worthy replacement.
- HTML element, css attribute completion - One of my favorite things about VS Code is that it supports completion and inline documentation for CSS and HTML, technologies that I know pathetically little about.
- Browsing Mozilla, CSS documentation within Emacs - anyone have a good solution for this? iirc helm-dash has something useful here but I haven's seriously investigated it.
- Auto-completion, linting for Flow - I don't use flow so I have been able to skip this so far but I very much would like to browse and contribute to the desktop application for Ledger and it uses Flow extensively.
P.P.S. Thanks so much to Anantha Kumaran for his work on tide-mode w/out which I would be stuck in VS Code.