Tuesday 24 April 2018

Logger Snippets for VS Code

Snippets are a common feature in text editors, allowing you to essentially paste in a snippet of code from some library somewhere.

Snippets appear for selection as you start typing, and the editor will paste in the entire content of the snippet.

Snippets in VS Code

VS code snippets also have the ability to focus the cursor, ready for typing.

It's very closely related to code completion concepts, applied in VS Code with Intellisense. Vito on Twitter suggested perhaps these should be incorporated into intellisense instead of snippets. I think perhaps that might be a personal choice.

I found following the guide useful in getting started

And I thought I'd start with the Logger template, since I've finally converted.

I quickly ended up in the deep end, but swimming well. In a few strokes, I can add this entire block of text, with the three instances of the procedure name highlighted, ready to type over. That's pretty cool.

This took 5 keystrokes

I figured a few variations of the entire text would be useful, so now as I type "log", I can tab, then start typing my log text.

 The first few commands at the start of a procedure form another snippet, with the parameter name ready to type.

If I'm going to logger, I'm saving some typing...

I extended this to include two parameters, and as you tab out of the first, the second two 'tabstops' are highlighted.

With all the magic going on by Adrian Png et al, I was a little surprised someone hadn't already published something for Logger.

Find my snippets JSON on Github.

Others on Twitter suggested they might send through a few examples they use, I was going to wait for some more inspiration.

The trickiest bit was escaping the dollar signs for plsql_unit. Thanks Stack Overflow.

Perhaps this set of JSON could be transformed into the Intellisense format. That would make an interesting SQL exercise...

Monday 23 April 2018

On Switching Code Editors

Ever since I joined the industry, my preferred text editor was TextPad.
It's a solid tool, similar to Notepad++. I probably underutilise it, but I started to see some people to interesting things with more modern editors.

Day-to-day, I work with two monitors, so I've been trialling software literally side-by-side for a while.

With some help from my nearby colleague, I tried a little Sublime (freemium), and that peaked my interest when contemplating the jump. Atom was also emerging at this time, which also had an impressive list of pros & cons. I wanted to give them all a fair go, but it can be tricky when you're busy, you know, programming.

I've ended up using Atom for a number of months now, even after moaning on twitter about it a few times. I wouldn't be surprised if it was over a year. I like the taste it gives for a modern editor, and it really intrigues me how it was built (JavaScript driven), but I think therein lies the downside. It's improved, but it doesn't scale well - for large files, or large lists of files.

Recently I've been hearing mostly good things about Visual Studio Code (free), especially for/by APEX developers, but also from the community in general. The young blood in the 2018 Stack Overflow survey regarded it highly - certainly far more than the 7.2% recorded in 2016.

2018 Stack Overflow Survey - Editors of choice

So I finally thought right, I've got to give VSC a good crack. There's stuff here I need to learn. Stuff that can make me more productive.

I printed a keyboard shortcut cheat sheets, since that's really what's going to make me productive. Luckily, like Toad & SQL Developer, Atom & VSC share a lot of shortcut commands.
And this thought in the back of my mind, perhaps from Editor wizards Adrian Png or Jorge Rimblas, that you should commit to the tool instead of using an extension to bridge shortcut commands.
and I wanted some new wins that would exhibit immediate ROI over the other editors.

I wanted to compile from my editor.

I realise that's what SQL Developer is kinda built for, but we also need dedicated editors for other document types.

I tried making this happen a few times with Atom, but I'm not sure it really liked our network structure.

I got this done in about five minutes with help from Morten.
No hiccups found, and I tweaked it slightly to use a "recent_errors" view I already had defined.

And with the extra time & excitement I had, I had a lot of fun with snippets - which this post was supposed to be about. I think I'm going to like snippets. Something I know Textpad had but I never got going with, but VSC is making the whole experience feel good.

I even find the syntax highlighting pleasing to the eye, so I think this is going to be a welcome transition to VS. Though I haven't played with CSS/JavaScript yet.

Using extension xyz.plsql-language

I understand it shared some framework concepts with Atom, so I'll probably get more familiarity with JSON while I'm at it.

"User Settings" is a place a developer can truly call home. While I yearn for a GUI, I see the advantage & flexibility with this approach. Though I'm sure it could be GUI-fied a little further.

Change default on left, added & overwritten by right.

I know a few actions I still do regularly in TextPad, so we'll see how things go on day two.
- searching across files
- basic macros for repeated text commands, though possible circumvented with the advanced multi-edit mode.
- compare files. I'm not sure why I still do this in TextPad.
- when I just want to see files in white background, with really familiar highlighting.

And with this momentum, I really need to restore my love for SQL*Plus with SQLCL.

If you want some more reading, I also came across a couple of articles that helped validate my experiences, and consider the move:
Switching from VSC to Sublime
Best Text Editor?