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Ask Sololearn: What's The Simplest Way To Set Up A Code Editor?

Ask Sololearn: What's The Simplest Way To Set Up A Code Editor?

In our weekly Ask Sololearn feature, we try to tackle the most important questions of the Sololearn community -- covering topics from creating your own programming language, to staying motivated, to specific questions about popular languages you may be learning in coding classes right now. This week though, we will focus on a question that deals with one of the most fundamental aspects of any programming career - editing code.

This week’s question from the Sololearn community is simple -- what’s the simplest way to set up a code editor? While there are a wide variety of code editor options that have their own specific wrinkles to this process, let’s focus on one of the most popular and widely used options to answer this question -- Visual Studio Code. VS Code has gained a massive worldwide following as a lightweight, efficient, and effective option for editing code. So, how do you set up something like this when working on your own projects?

Steps To Set Up A Code Editor 

Step 1: Download Your Chosen Code Editor Software 

Most code editors are available in various versions (some free, some with more robust premium paid packages) around the Internet. To use VS Code as an example, simply visit their website and choose which of the packages has the best feature set for your coding needs. Once you have downloaded VS Code, you will be taken to a Welcome tab with a variety of options:

  • Start: This lets you choose to either create a new file or open a folder.
  • Recent: This helps you find any recently opened folders
  • Help: As always, the place for you to find useful information and FAQ guides breaking down the various code editing features. For example, you can find a printable keyboard cheat sheet and a series of helpful introductory videos.
  • Customize: This allows you to install settings and keyboard shortcuts from other code editors like Vim or Atom. This will be more relevant to more experienced programmers who are already using other code editors they have some familiarity with.

Step 2: Get Familiar With The Layout

Most code editors employ a similar user interface based on industry best practices. In the case of VS Code, you will see:

  • Editor: This is where you will actually edit your files. VS Code (and many other code editors) allow you to open as many editors as you want, either side-by-side or vertically and horizontally.
  • Side Bar: This holds different views like the Explorer to aid you while working on a particular project.
  • Status Bar: Information about the opened project and the files you edit.
  • Activity Bar: This allows you to switch between views and gives you additional context-specific indicators, like the number of outgoing changes when Git is enabled.
  • Panels: You can display different panels below the editor region for output or debug information, errors and warnings, or an integrated terminal. Panel can also be moved to the right for more vertical space.

Once you have begun a project, you can play around with the customizable layouts to find an interface that is best for your working process. Before diving deeper into actual coding, optimizing the editor layout can help you keep everything organized and let you work more effectively - so spend some time on this before moving further.

Step 3: Utilize The Explorer (Or Similar Tool) 

The Explorer tool is used in VS Code to browse, access, and manage all of the files and folders in a particular project. The same is true in most other code editors -- almost all include a high-level browsing tool like this to make organization and shifting between different parts of a particular project easier. 

What do Explorer (and similar tools) allow you to do? A few things:

  • Create, delete, and rename files and folders.
  • Move files and folders with drag and drop.
  • Use the context menu to explore all options.

Step 4: Download Useful Or Relevant Extensions To Customize The Code Editor 

No matter what code editor you choose to use, you will want to explore the library of extensions and plugins that have been developed by others in order to make code writing even easier. Most code editors frequently push out updates to both the tool itself, and to their libraries, which means you should check back frequently even after you have mastered your chosen code editor to see if there are any new solutions that can assist you.

As a Step 4B, it’s also a very good idea to invest time reading as many guides and walkthroughs of the code editor you choose before beginning as possible. While we’re sure you want to just dive into writing code, the more front-end learning you do, the less issues you may run into mid-project (which could potentially derail all of the work you’ve put in).