4 handy uses for Visual Studio Code — aside from coding

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Most folks rightfully think of Visual Studio Code as a code editor and IDE, an environment for programming projects or working on text files. But VS Code’s flexibility under the hood allows add-ons for the editor to do much more than add support for programming languages or file formats. VS Code can support all kinds of useful tasks besides coding.

Here are four ways Visual Studio Code can help streamline your development workday above and beyond serving as the editor you write code in. 

Browse databases

Many application development projects involve a database of some kind. One typically manages such a database with a desktop app or a web portal, but a slew of add-ons for Visual Studio Code let you query databases directly from within the app. For instance, vscode-database provides quick connections and queries to MySQL and PostgreSQL, while vscode-sqlite allows you to work with the ever-versatile SQLite. MongoDB users have an extension to call their own as well. Note that these extensions are best for browsing and executing queries, not for managing database details like manipulating table structures (unless you’re comfortable doing such things through queries).

Develop and test APIs

APIs allow software components to work together no matter where they live or what they’re built with. A number of add-ons for Visual Studio Code allow you to test APIs right in the editor, or work with API definition formats. tropicRPC lets you automatically test gRPC APIs, with the config for the test saved in a VS Code project. openapi-lint provides validation and linting for OpenAPI files, OpenAPI being the format used most commonly to write API definitions; openapi-lint also provides exports to other formats including YAML and JSON. Swagger Viewer provides previews as well as linting and IntelliSense for OpenAPI files.

Message your colleagues

Even before COVID-19 came along and radically reshaped the way we work, team collaboration tools were already making it far easier to do things in real time from afar. Users of Slack and Discord can use Visual Studio Code to interact with those services, and Arjun Attam’s Chat add-on works with both of those services and even permits integration with them directly into the VS Code window.

Track your productivity

Time management matters more than ever, now that more of us than ever work on our own. If you use the Wakatime development-metrics tracking system, there’s a VS Code add-on to manage Wakatime statistics directly from within the editor. And the Code Time add-on lets you track and manage productivity on your own, via an open-source project. And for those who just want a simple Pomodoro timer, there’s an extension for that too.

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