Where should I be working on my code?

Hi, supernoob here,

I’m on the last project for the Javascript Algorithms and Data Structures course - building a cash register. I’ve been doing all the challenges in the code editor provided and periodically (not periodically enough) saving my code-so-far into… microsoft word, the horror!

I just fucked up hard and lost a bunch of edits to accidentally swiping my mousepad and going back a page on my browser… breathe dude, just breathe, don’t punch your computer…

How does my dumbass avoid this? Is it time to graduate to an IDE like VSC or something? Do the FCC courses introduce what a realistic workflow is going to look like and what tools to use or should I research that elsewhere, and if so, any suggestions on where to start?

Thank you kindly

yea you can use VSC, codepen or any other ide if you fear losing your progress.

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No, the courses just focus on the coding part. However, there are many videos and articles on the FCC site that do deal with this.

You don’t need a fully featured IDE – an IDE refers to an application that provides an editor plus a suite of other tools, so for example Visual Studio or Eclipse. They’re very often built to support a specific language/suite of languages (so for example Visual Studio contains a set of tools that primarily allow you to write, build and debug C# and associated Microsoft languages).

You only really need the editor, which is what something like Visual Studio Code is (you can then add plugins to it to make it more like an IDE).

I think you realise this, but don’t use Word, it’s designed for a completely different type of text processing. What you want is just Notepad: you want plain text editing, not rich text editing (word processing). You are dealing with plain text files.

Text editors specifically designed for coding normally include some extra stuff; it isn’t absolutely necessary, it just makes it [a lot] easier to write code. For example:

  • syntax highlighting to make it easier to read the code (different parts of the code will have different colours)
  • regex-based find and replace
  • ability to open multiple files at once (VSC does this in tabs, for example)
  • code folding (ability to hide blocks of code in a file)
  • plugin mechanism to add extra functionality (for example, language-specific diagnostics that will locate errors in your code)

VSCode is commonly recommended because it’s pretty fully featured, it’s fast, you get a load of stuff out of the box, there’s a vast amount of plugins and it’s easy to configure.

Just to stress: you really need to be comfortable using a text editor. They are not particularly complicated things: you write some plain text in a file, save it, and you can run it. And though they become more complicated the more functionality is added, you’re then going to get stuff like the editor picking up errors in your code.

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Yes, learning to use an IDE like VSCode is useful and powerful, but saving (or pushing to git) is a requirement. If not, you can just as easily lose everything there.

As a transitional step for small projects like these (and yes, the cash register is still a smaller project), I like to use “code sandboxes” like https://replit.com/ - something that lets me create an environment to test in but that also auto-saves for me. Kind of a handy feature.

The other perk to replit, if you have code problems or questions? You can share the link to the particular repl here, ask the questions, and we can tinker with the code directly. :wink:

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Is it Word for Microsoft 365?

If so and it is being saved to OneDrive (I think that is the default) you should have a file version history. A bit too late now I guess, but just so you know anyway.


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Good advice all around. I just wanted to reiterate to save your code on github. Learning the basics of git will be very good as you will need it later. And just pushing up and saving code is pretty easy. And it will get you a presence on github, something some hirers look for.