Visual Studio Code: Find, Search and Command Palette

February 4, 2016 #vscode #search #ux

I’ve started using Visual Studio Code for my web projects because it is the right balance between IDE features and lightweight text editor, multi-platform, and open source. One interesting feature of Code is the lightweight program menu structure with many features exposed via a Command Palette.

VS Code - menu.png

When you open the Command Palette, you are presented with a > prompt and a list of commands along with their keyboard shortcuts.

VS Code - command palette new.png

Hit backspace to clear the  > prompt, it shows recently opened files.

VS Code - command palette empty.png

Start typing without the  > prompt, it also looks for file and symbol results.

VS Code - command palette with text.png

With the  > prompt, the Command Palette is for running features in Visual Studio Code, including triggering actions like Find and Search.

VS Code - command palette find.png

Typing find and selecting that Command Palette item brings up the Find dialog in my current open file…

VS Code - find in file wtih text.png

…and as I type into the Find input field, it highlights occurrences in that text of the file.

VS Code - find in file.png

I can also use the Command Palette to initiate a full text Search across all files.

VS Code - command palette search.png

This finds occurrences of text across all files in my project and displays highlighted snippets and counts per file.

VS Code - search.png

So why bother documenting what seems like an obvious feature of a software development tool? I’m trying to understand the best UX for a “global search” feature. We are conditioned to type anything we want into Google and getting a mix of search results, entities in the InfoBox or tools (try calculator or english to spanish). Is one input field the right UX for a product or should commands be split from full text search and quick access to entities? Add the dimension of voice interfaces and speech recognition for more confusion.

Kevin Hakanson

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