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Visual Studio Code Dev Team Cleans Up

The Visual Studio Code development team focused on some housekeeping in the October update, closing more than 4,000 issues on GitHub, where the cross-platform, open-source editor lives.

But, while that was going on, more than 2,000 new issues were created by the community, so the team also worked on revamping its issue triaging workflow, in what it called its "annual issue house keeping iteration."

"In order to restore a reasonable level of clarity we annually perform a House Keeping Iteration in which we go through all open issues," the team explained in a post. "We categorize, label, fix, and close issues. This results in a wave of notification which is hard to deal with (our apologies) but in the end there is better understanding of what will happen to your ideas."

However, there were also some new features and functionality added in the October (released in November) update, which brings VS Code up to version 1.40.

For example, the team announced VS Code is now built with TypeScript 3.7, which brings many improvements, including allowing for the use of optional chaining in the codebase, described as " one of the most highly-demanded ECMAScript features yet." It lets the team "write code where we can immediately stop running some expressions if we run into a null or undefined," thanks to the new ?. operator.

Also new is an Electron 6.0 update. "In this milestone, we finished the exploration of bundling Electron 6 into VS Code, making it the first time this Electron version ships with stable," the dev team announced. "This is a major Electron release and comes with Chromium 76.0.3809.146 and Node.js 12.4.0 (a major leap forward from our current version with Chromium 69 and Node.js 10.11.0). We have started to explore updating to Electron 7, which we hope to push to Insiders soon."

Furthermore, in the Workbench category alone, the team listed:

  • Activity Bar indicator: "We've introduced a new indicator for the active item in Activity Bar to make it stand out better and increase readability. We also tuned the inactive foreground colors for a stronger contrast with the active element."
  • Themable window border: "We've introduced two new theme colors, window.activeBorder and window.inactiveBorder, for providing a border around the VS Code window. The window.activeBorder applies to the active (focused) window, while the window.inactiveBorder applies to inactive (unfocused) windows."
  • List and tree keyboard scrolling: "You can now press Ctrl+Up and Ctrl+Down to scroll lists and trees using the keyboard. If horizontal scrolling is enabled, Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right will also scroll horizontally."
  • Fewer notifications in Zen mode: "While using Zen mode, notification toasts will no longer distract you unless they inform about errors. You can control this behavior with the new zenMode.silentNotifications setting. You can always access all notifications from the status bar by clicking on the notification icon in the bottom-right corner."
  • Type filters for outline and breadcrumbs: "There are new settings to configure what symbols are displayed in the Outline view and breadcrumb navigation. The settings are called outline.show{symbol type} and breadcrumbs.show{symbol type}. For example, outline.showVariables, outline.showFunctions, etc."
  • Control the sizing behavior when splitting editors: "A new setting workbench.editor.splitSizing controls the layout of editors when splitting them. By default, the size will be distributed evenly among all editors."
  • Disable GPU acceleration: "We have heard issue reports from users that seem related to how the GPU is used to render VS Code's UI. These users have a much better experience when running VS Code with the additional --disable-gpu command-line argument. Running with this argument will disable the GPU hardware acceleration and fall back to a software renderer."

Many more improvements were made to the editor, integrated terminal, tasks, source control, debugging, languages, extension authoring and more. For complete details, see the announcement post.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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