Five VS Code Extensions that Improve Productivity by Reducing Context Switching

Michael GershMichael Gersh
July 28, 2021

The more our team used our CodeStream IDE extension for discussing and reviewing code, the more frustrating or inconvenient it became when we did have to leave our IDE for some development related task. Besides the frequent switch-window, find-tab, perform-task, and back-to-IDE dance, context-switching between applications is a big risk for distraction. Sure, while in the zone it may be easy to take care of some chore at hand and get right back to work. But we’ve all succumbed to the temptation to review some unread Slack message, or peruse and click through to something from an unintended browser tab. Next thing you know our flow is busted and it can take a while, especially for developers, to get back into focus once lost. 

So in addition to building our proprietary collaboration tools we also started working on integrating tasks into the IDE that previously required switching windows. These include GitHub and GitLab integrations that let you manage your PRs and MRs, a Slack integration that lets you discuss code with your teammates, and integrations with a dozen issue trackers such as Jira and Trello for reviewing tickets. 

But CodeStream is not the only VS Code extension that helps improve productivity by allowing you to stay in your IDE. Below are 5 other extensions our team uses to avoid window and context switches.

GitLens


From your IDE you can, according to GitLens’ README, “Quickly glimpse into whom, why, and when a line or code block was changed. Jump back through history to gain further insights as to how and why the code evolved. Effortlessly explore the history and evolution of a codebase.”

MySQL


This database client lets you view tables and execute MySQL queries right from VS Code.

MongoDB for VS Code


Time-saving tasks you can do from your IDE, as per the MongoDb for VS Code plug-in documentation, include:

  • Navigate your MongoDB Data
  • Navigate your databases, collections, and read-only views
  • See the documents in your collections
  • Edit documents and save changes to the database
  • Get a quick overview of your schema and your indexes

Remote SSH


As written on their marketplace listing,  “The Remote - SSH extension lets you use any remote machine with a SSH server as your development environment. This can greatly simplify development and troubleshooting in a wide variety of situations. You can:

  • Develop on the same operating system you deploy to or use larger, faster, or more specialized hardware than your local machine.
  • Quickly swap between different, remote development environments and safely make updates without worrying about impacting your local machine.
  • Access an existing development environment from multiple machines or locations.
  • Debug an application running somewhere else such as a customer site or in the cloud.”

It’s certainly easier than switching to terminal windows or wrestling with Vi.

Jupyter


If you create Jupyter “notebooks” that include code, you can use this extension to do so without switching away to a desktop or web app. 

Productivity Boosting Tip

Here’s a quick suggestion for an easy way to increase productivity:  For the next few days keep a quick log of when and why you had to leave your IDE. Then when you have a little bit of down-time, see if there are any extensions that would allow you to accomplish the tasks you logged from inside VS Code. Maybe it’s one of the above. If not one of the above, please share it with us. Of course, if there’s not an extension that would eliminate the window and context switch also definitely let us know - maybe we’ll build it!

Discuss

Please share your thoughts and feedback @teamcodestream.

About CodeStream

CodeStream integrates all of your essential dev tools, such as GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, Slack, Teams, Jira, Trello and more, into VS Code, Visual Studio, and any JetBrains IDE.

Thank you for your interest in CodeStream.

We'll be in touch shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CodeStream Demo Time

During our daily stand-ups we demo features in development to allow everyone, which now includes you too, to stay in the loop and provide early feedback.

Recent Blog Posts

Two Ways to See for Yourself