Visual Studio Toolbox

Top Visual Studio Code Extensions from Individual Contributors

Ever consider authoring your own Visual Studio Code extension to provide some missing piece of useful functionality?

While the most popular extensions in the Visual Studio Code Marketplace are naturally dominated by Microsoft and some other big corporate names like Red Hat, many individual contributors are also making waves with useful tools.

In fact, several lone coders (with help from the community) have cracked the top 10 list of extensions, which are an integral part of VS Code and help give rise to the open source, cross-platform code editor that more and more includes IDE-like features.

Microsoft puts great store in VS Code extensions giving the tool its special functionality and appeal to developers, and it provides Build your own guidance for everyone to get in on the act. Many have taken on the challenge, with amazing results.

Here's a look at the extensions from non-corporate types (excluding Microsoft employees who authored their own individual offering) who have cracked the top 10 on the popularity list:

  • vscode-icons

    vscode-icons (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    This icon package from Roberto Huertas provide hundreds of file and folder icons for all manner of uses, ranging from a simple open file icon to Python to Zip. According to his GitHub page, Huertas is "A Barcelona-based web & mobile developer wandering through cyberspace. Currently working at Telefonica Alpha."

    His extension has earned a near-perfect 4.8 rating from 309 developer reviews, having been installed more than 7.1 million times (for reference, the top extension, Python, has been downloaded 12.8 million times, and vscode-icons clocks in at No. 5 on the popularity list).

    Not that Huertas does it all alone; the vscode-icons GitHub site lists 96 contributors, and the project has earned 1,090 stars.

  • GitLens

    GitLens (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    This extension from Eric Amodio is described thusly: "Supercharge the Git capabilities built into Visual Studio Code -- Visualize code authorship at a glance via Git blame annotations and code lens, seamlessly navigate and explore Git repositories, gain valuable insights via powerful comparison commands, and so much more."

    Git, of course, is the free and open source distributed version control system that helped make Linus Torvalds famous.

    Amodio's GitHub site describes him as: "Father, husband, code monkey, entrepreneur, geek. Director of Engineering at @TeamCodeStream."

    He has worked on several GitHub projects, providing other VS Code functionality such as "find related," "toggle excluded files" and "restore editors."

    The GitLens site lists 19 contributors and 1,450 stars, while the marketplace extension has been downloaded more than 6.2 million times (No. 8 on the popularity list), earning another near-perfect rating (4.9) from 177 developer reviews.

  • One Dark Pro

    One Dark Pro
    One Dark Pro (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    This extension lists as its author "zhuangtongfa," though its corresponding GitHub site lists "Binaryify," described as a "WEB Engineer."

    Other GitHub projects with contributions from the author include vue-tetris to "use Vue, Vuex, Immutable to code Tetris" and vuejs/awesome-vue, "a curated list of things related to Vue.js."

    The One Dark Pro site says it's "based on Atom's default One Dark theme, and is one of the most downloaded themes for VS Code."

    The One Dark Pro GitHub project site lists 21 contributors and 280 stars.

    The extension has been downloaded more than 5 million times, earning a 4.3 rating from 77 developers. It's 10th on the popularity list.

The complete top 10 list is filled out by four corporate contributions from Microsoft (with two more from Microsoft employees apparently contributing on their own) and one from Red Hat.

The aforementioned extension guidance says: "Extensions can be written in either TypeScript or JavaScript. VS Code offers a first class extension development experience where you can develop, build, run, test and debug all from within VS Code itself." The guidance includes a Your First Extension project for a Hello World project, Extension API extensibility documentation and Extension Examples that would-be authors can review and build.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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