There are no doubts that VSCode is one of the best code editors on the market today and unlike some other code editors you’ve probably tried, it’s clearly designed for a modern tech stack and has a ton of quality-of-life features that you probably never knew you needed.
But, perhaps the most beautiful thing about Visual Studio Code is that it’s open-source and has a dedicated community of developers who are constantly working to improve the software.
On that same openness concept, you can find thousands of extensions for VSCode on its Marketplace. From extensions that make learning how to code painless to functional extensions that make development processes more efficient, there’s something for every kind of developer.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best VSCode extensions for 2021.
When you’re developing a web application or a website, it’s all too easy to make something that’s bloated - particularly as a newbie dev. A big factor in this is that many devs don’t always know how big packages are when they’re imported through code.
Import Cost is a VS Code extension that displays the size of imported packages inline, so you know exactly how much importing that package will cost during the development process. So, it’ll help you to better optimize your applications and websites, particularly for mobile users who typically suffer more due to bloat.
Tabnine is a massively popular AI assistant for VSCode that works with all major programming languages, so there’s no doubt you’ll find it useful no matter what your skillset is.
By studying publicly shared codebases, Tabnine uses deep learning algorithms to predict what you need and offers one-click code completion so you can work through your project quickly and efficiently. For newbie coders, this makes learning a breeze, as it gives you the space to play with ideas without needing to remember coding syntax or search StackOverflow.
And, if you’re a seasoned dev, then you’ll find that Tabnine saves you oodles of time on whatever you’re working on by giving you the building blocks you need to get things running.
If you regularly use Git, either professionally or with your own projects, then GitLens makes it even easier to integrate your IDE with Git.
With GitLens, you can quickly see who, why, and when code was changed in any given project. Plus, you can hop back through previous changes to see why other devs changed that code, and do side-by-side comparisons to get a better understanding of why things changed.
It’s super customizable, too, so you don’t need to worry about GitLens being too intrusive in your IDE.
It’s such a simple quality of life improvement, but it’s one that every developer will be thankful for. Bracket Pair Colorizer does exactly what it says on the tin - it colors pairs of brackets, so you can find the opening and closing brackets extremely quickly.
Whether you’re working with spaghetti code, figuring out someone else’s code, or you just want to make it easier to read code, this extension is super useful. It’s also really easy to configure this extension’s settings, too, so you can even make it work if you use custom bracket characters. And, if you need specific colors, or want orphan brackets to show up in a separate color, it’s easy to do that too.
Whether you’re a seasoned dev or you’re new to the game and find the number of things you need to remember overwhelming, you won’t know how you ever lived without Path Intellisense.
Path Intellisense makes working with file paths easy by offering either an autocomplete or suggestions for your code. Simply begin typing a path in quotations, and Path Intellisense will either automatically complete the path for you or suggest a variety of different options if it’s not sure what option you want.
Plus, if you’re using hidden files, Path Intellisense can help you with that too.
It’s quite a simple quality-of-life improvement, but it’s one that every dev never knew they needed.
We know that, with certain languages, it’s vital for you to keep your code tidy and properly formatted. But, that can be easier said than done when you’ve got deadlines to meet - or if you’re a new developer that doesn’t know all that much about formatting yet.
Prettier is a formatting extension that automatically formats your code for you every time you save it, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to indent every now and then. Plus, if you’re still learning how to code, Prettier can save you a ton of headspace, allowing you to focus on your project instead of how to make your code readable.
We’re not saying that readable code isn’t something you should avoid learning, but it definitely takes the headache out of code editing and reading someone else’s code.
If you’re working remotely right now because of COVID-19, you might be struggling with not having the right tools at home to work with. Or, you might need to work with software that’s on a device in a remote location. Remote - SSH is here to help.
Remote - SSH allows you to remote onto any machine’s development environment to get your work done, and quickly swap between different environments to update your code. All you need for Remote - SSH to work is the extension on your computer and the remote device, and you’re set.
This makes it a great option for devs who need to access more powerful software than they can host at home, or even if you need to check out code that’s running at your work location but you can’t make it into the office.
Sass is an increasingly popular development language, but if you’re new to Sass, it can be pretty confusing.
Live Sass Compiler...well, compiles SAAS or SCSS files to CSS. Live. Regardless of if Sass is a requirement for your project or you just like the formatting, this extension can save you a ton of time (and headaches!) by taking care of the hard work for you.
You can even get a live preview of the compiled CSS file in your browser or the Live Sass Compiler app, so if there are any problems, you can fix them before you check your code in.
Have you ever spent hours wondering why the hell your code isn’t working, only to realize after three cups of coffee and lots of cursing, it’s because you didn’t close a tag? Yeah, we’ve all been there.
The Auto Close Tag extension, as you might expect, automatically closes HTML or XML tags for you in the IDE. So, when you type an opening tag, this extension will create the closing tag for you. All you have to do is write your code between them, and you’re good to go.
And now, you’re safe in the knowledge that any errors that come your way aren’t because of missing HTML/XML tags. So, that’s helpful.
If English isn’t your first language, or if you’re a coder over in the good ol’ United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia, chances are that you’ve misspelled something in your code before and spent far too much time wondering why your code keeps spitting out errors.
This extension points out spelling mistakes in your code with a helpful squiggly line that’ll take you back to your word processing days. And, if you develop in a language that works with UK English spelling variations, it’s easy to switch Code Spell Checker to work with that, too. It even works with camelCase!
It’s easy to make a typo, particularly when you’re typing furiously because you’ve suddenly realized how to make something work. The Code Spell Checker extension makes sure those typos are easy to spot.
Of course, we couldn’t have a list of the top VSCode extensions without throwing in a cheeky bit of self-promotion. If you’re looking for the best VSCode extensions for remote collaboratio, then Duckly has you covered.
Duckly is a video chat tool that allows developers to talk, share their code, and collaborate on development in real-time, all directly through the IDE and independently of what IDE your team is using. That's right, you can be using VSCode and your colleagues using WebStorm.
With remote working becoming even more popular in the tech world, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we built Duckly so people could easily collaborate with their team. The Duckly extension allows you to share your code in real-time with your team, so they can follow you or code with you (like Google Docs).
We also know that security is super important, even more when we are all working remotely. On Duckly all the communication and the code-sharing sessions are P2P and encrypted, and only team members can join your calls.
One of the most annoying things to deal with as a developer is how different languages have different case requirements. You can remember which is which after a while, but if you’re new to development and trying to pick up a few different languages, it can get confusing. Not to mention a pain in the butt when you’re constantly typing things in the wrong case.
Change Case solves this by allowing you to change a word’s casing simply by highlighting it and typing a simple command. So, it doesn’t matter if you’ve accidentally used camelCase instead of constant because, with this extension, you don’t have to delete and re-type it all.
Gif illustration by Pako.