Visual Studio Code templates

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Created: March 1, 2020 / Updated: March 2, 2020 / Status: finished / 3 min read (~418 words)

I use VS Code and I'd like to insert templates into my documents. How do I do this?

In VS Code, the concept of templates is called snippets. It is fairly easy to create a snippet, so I won't go into the details. Here's an example of a snippet I use to insert the date and time quickly into my documents.

{
    "Datetime": {
        "scope": "",
        "prefix": "dt",
        "body": [
            "$CURRENT_YEAR-$CURRENT_MONTH-$CURRENT_DATE $CURRENT_HOUR:$CURRENT_MINUTE:$CURRENT_SECOND"
        ],
        "description": "Date time"
    }
}

With this snippet, I only have to type dt and then press TAB and dt gets replaced by the current date and time.

I use snippets to create the template of my questions and problems articles. My current approach is to open a non-existent file by calling code /path/to/new/file and VS Code opens the editor with this file. I can then write the content of this file, which will not automatically save until I manually save. Once I'm happy with the content of my article, I manually save, which means that in the future, any edit I make and then have the editor lose focus will be automatically saved and commit to git (my current workflow).

One of the things I don't particularly like with the current implementation of the snippets system is that the body needs to be a list of strings, where each item represents a new line. It is possible to create a single entry and use \n and \ to format the string, but that is not a clean approach. Those are limitations of jsonc. If it was possible to link to a file, then it would be "easy" to create a clean template.