How To Replace VSCode
21 November, 2022 02:00
text editor musings from a discord conversation.
i originally wrote this as a response to a conversation i had with some people on a discord server. we were talking about text editors and how that space has been nearly completely taken over by microsoft’s vscode. with the more recent developments around that, as noted by Geoff Huntley, i decided it’s (finally) time to ditch it proper.
i tested a couple different editors, and these are my observations.
been using it (well, vscodium, a fork that disables telemetry and other microsoft-y things) for many years, and i used to love it. however, it:
is sluggish on files that are 500+ lines long, and i don’t have even 10 extensions enabled at any given time.
is made by microsoft (check out the article above, seriously). vscodium tries to strip out microsoft things, but the open source extension store by Eclipse is not nearly popular enough, making it hard to find extensions i need. at one point i needed C# support, and the only available C# extension was the one provided by microsoft on their official extension store, and it isn’t open source to boot. in the end i had to cave in and use the official extension store, which kinda undermines vscodium’s efforts.
it’s neat, it’s fast, and it’s quirky:
it is really fast. there is no delay on anything, and huge files loaded smoothly.
does not render utf-8 chars beyond text. even with
fontconfigset up properly with fallback fonts for emoji fonts and the like.
in general, does not include batteries. anything not provided by it has to be handled by lua plugins, which would be fine, if it wasn’t for the underdocumented API.
it’s also neat, also fast, and even quirkier:
once again, really fast.
very hackable at the expense of UX. if you do something wrong, it will not complain until it’s too late. as a side note, it does not reload its initialization file unless you restart the whole editor.
UX in general kinda sucks, which comes with Scintilla, the text editor engine it uses. i’m guessing once you get used to it, it’s fine, but as a new user coming from slick UIs like vscode, i had to question many things. Scintilla is pretty old by now (that’s not to say it isn’t updated, it still receives regular updates), but was standard at one point.
i couldn’t get its LSP plugin to run after many attempts, but i guess that’s just me being dumb.
¶Sublime Text (link)
it’s cool, but it’s not for me:
sublime text is the vscode replacement. nice and fast, and looks sleek. has enjoyed plenty of market share from before vscode took over.
its a bit too overwhelming for me, even coming from vscode. i’m personally looking for something small, whereas sublime is kind of the “editor’s editor”.
quite pricey, but winrarware1.
still early in pre-alpha, but already pretty usable:
last time i tried lapce was some time early into this summer. back then, i could not for the life of me figure out if it was just a wireframed UI that didn’t work or it was me doing something wrong. turns out it was kinda both. the only part of it that worked at the time is actual text editing, but i couldn’t even get to that part. now, it can open folders, files, etc. and it works pretty good for pre-alpha software. it has modal editing support too for vim freaks (sorry), but i haven’t tried it.
being pre-alpha, it still has a long way to go. some of the settings don’t work, some are missing (eg. line wrap), but its main function, text editing, does work and works well. i haven’t tried opening large files with it yet.
its a 100mb download for something that looks so… lightweight? just strange to me.
it says it was built with lsp in mind, but the documentation is non-existent, so i could not figure out how to make it run an lsp.
by default, uses a custom windowbar, which sucks balls, but you can disable it.
bear in mind these are just my experiences, and i am definitely not a good person to speak about this nor are these objective at all, so i encourage you to try out the apps i listed for yourself (and more!) and see what you think. you might just find what suits you!
as an aside, i haven’t seen many people talk about the text editor environment, but maybe i haven’t looked hard enough. if you know any articles or conversations talking about this, or just want to suggest other text editors, feel free to reach out at either my mastodon or my email!
opens a dialog box at some point asking you to pay, but does not limit feature set.