Visual Studio Code is Microsoft’s fully cross-platform IDE. It is beautiful, easy to use and lightweight. Its slimness can be attributed to the fact that it does only the basics by default, and add functionality via extensions. This lets developers start with the basics, and add only those things they really need. There are some Visual Studio Code extensions however, that I recommend to developers right off the bat. These are my top five.

1. EditorConfig for VS Code

This extension is like sharing your Visual Studio settings file with anyone who gets your code. In the root of the application is a .editorconfig file that lets you set certain code style guidelines. Things like whether your indents are tabs or spaces (and how many spaces a tab should be). This can cut down on friction when working with a team and for consultants when switching between projects for multiple clients.

2. Auto-Open Markdown Preview

Whether creating repository README files or using it for your blog, markdown is an easy way for developers to document applications and get great code highlighting. It can be frustrating when writing markdown documents however, having to constantly compile them to preview the output. This extension opens markdown documents in a split pane with the markdown on one side and the preview on the other. This makes writing markdown documents almost seamless.

3. Git History (git log)

For those developers using Git for source control, git log can be helpful, but getting a good readable git log takes a plethora of switches (color, pretty, etc.). The Git History extension gives developers that same easy-to-read log with just a few key chords, just like the one below.


4. Docker Support

The Docker Support plugin gives you code highlighting, snippets and intellisense for your dockerfile. It has been immensely helpful as I learn to use Docker and as I continue in to Docker Compose and Docker Swarms.

5. ES Lint

No development would be complete without some JavaScript these days. If you’re going to write JavaScript (and you probably are), you might as well write it well (or at least following the community-agreed conventions. The ES Lint extension reads your .eslintrc file and checks your code as you write it and provides feedback within the IDE, with little red and yellow squiggles under the warnings and mistakes.

What’s Missing?

I still do a lot of .NET development, and VS Code is great for .NET Core development. I would love to see an extension that gives me the Add New Controller item and scaffolds out the code with the filename and the namespace. On the plus side, I can write my own extensions!

Any extensions that you like? Ones that you find yourself using all the time? Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @leebrandt! Also, check out these awesome resources to learn more about how Stormpath can help you never build auth again: