From about 2012 until 2018 I was a PhpStorm evangelist. It really is a great IDE and carried me through so very many projects. I raved about it so much that I’ve had credits on various talks given by others where they mention me for turning them onto the product.
When I came to WP Engine in 2018 I had to branch out from PHP to Go and that’s where PhpStorm, and JetBrains products, fell apart for me. I initially brought GoLand thinking it would bring me the same benefits for Go that PhpStorm brought me for PHP but it didn’t work out that way. GoLand was slow, clunky and just not very intuitive.
At first I thought I would work through it and it would “get better” but that didn’t happen. Instead the other dev on my team, who was already using VS Code, convinced me to try it for Go and, at least at that time, it turned out it was the much more capable editor. Add to that I was working in multiple languages, PHP and Go primarily but also some work in Python and a few others, and JetBrains just didn’t make much sense.
As good as JetBrains products are for a single tech, if you manage multiple techs, even in the same project, the only really good way to do that with JetBrains is to use multiple editors, that can each look and act in very different ways due to some horrible syncing. It quickly got unwieldy for me and so I gave up and have been using VS Code for the last 5 years instead.
For what it is VS Code isn’t bad, but it also isn’t an IDE. Refactoring support is minimal, even with good extensions, and so many other little things are just missing. It isn’t a big deal until it is. For example, renaming a variable can take me 30 minutes on VS Code whereas I can do it in GoLand or PhpStorm in a few seconds. There are so many other little things too and they really do add up.
This past week I decided I was tired of some of it with VS Code. This particular frustration was upping WordPress Coding Standards and having GitHub actions yell at me with failures because VS Code couldn’t easily scan the whole project like PhpStorm does. I got it all solved but that took me far more time than it should have. I reinstalled PhpStorm and checked out GoLand again and they really seem to have come a long way in the last 5 years.
As a bonus, they even seem to work together much better than they used to, something that has killed me about their products for a very long time.
The question now is whether or not I want to switch things around again. I don’t write code for the day job anymore. Is it worth it switching? Will they still piss me off with using multiple IDEs? Is VS Code simply just enough?
I really need to stop worrying about my tools and just building with them.