Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The biggest problem with the code snippets manager apps

When you think about code snippets management there are three instruments available for developers that come to mind.
  • Code editor’s built-in snippets functionality 
  • Standalone code snippets apps such as Snippets 
  • Online code snippets libraries and sharing services 
For today's discussion we will skip the third one.

–°ode snippets feature of both editors and standalone apps has its own advantages and disadvantages. I'd say even more, advantages of ones are missing in the second and vice versa. Let me explain what I mean.

Editors with built-in code snippets functionality usually support it natively with features such as placeholders, variables, tabs stops, tab triggers etc. However, most of the time it has poor management interface, all snippets are tied to a single editor and have no sync.

On the other side, standalone code snippets apps have a much better UI with great management as their main feature, very often support synchronization, code snippets are available to any app installed on the system and to the team members (if sharing is supported), but they lack the ability to use native stuff such as placeholders, variables and tab stops.

So, obviously, it’s impossible to utilize the advantages of both components by using them together and it’s not quite handy to use them separately. It’s just not as efficient as it could be.
From my point of view, it is a huge issue with code snippets managers. And Snippets is not an exception. Of course, developers are trying to invent workarounds to solve it. For example, Snippets has Snippets Expander feature that allows you to insert a code snippet into the editor’s window by typing its tab string but without variables, tab stops, etc. Dash developers created a popup window with an editor that allows you to define variables prior to insertion.

Do you see the same issue? How do you solve it? Please share your experience.

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