Keeping a to-do is kind of necessary as a developer. It’s hard to keep everything in mind and make sure that nothing slipped through. It’s never great to remember at the end of a feature about something that can have a huge impact on all the work done.
This is why it’s important to have either a digital or analog (pen and paper) task list. This way, you can easily add items to the list to make sure that you didn’t forget anything.
Finding the right system can be tricky. Having a notebook is great since it allows better creativity, but you need to carry it everywhere, or you forget everything. Using an application to resolve this issue, but it can be easy to forgive the application and stay focused on your code.
How I Found the Perfect To-Do List for Developers.
I recently changed work and had to work on a major refactor of the codebase I’ll be working on. This is an excellent learning experience for me, and it will ensure the team that I know the code quite well.
However, having to rework a large chunk of the project comes with its challenges. There are a lot of things that aren’t documented and that were done quite some time ago by people that aren’t working at Proton anymore.
That’s why I had to find a solution to keep track of things that I needed to do to make sure that nothing was lost. We have QA, but it’s better to hand a working code than to rely solely on my coworker testing (even if he does an excellent work).
Being new, I was onboarded by a coworker. We worked together on the first part of the refactoring and did a lot of peer programming to make sure to go over the most critical parts of the codebase. That’s where he introduced me to the pinned markdown file.
Pinning a markdown file was his way of managing his list of todos. Being curious, I decided to try to do it and I instantly fall in love with the simplicity of the solution. I knew that I found the perfect today solution.
How to Create a Pinned Tab
The process is quite simple. Here are the 3 steps you have to follow for the one not interested in the more in-depth explanation:
- Open a new tab and set the language to markdown
- Right-click the tab and pin it
- Change the
- (Optional) save the file on your computer to avoid losing it
I’ve been using VSCode for quite some time now. I used to hate it, but I decided to give it a go since everybody was using it. The switch was near instant, and I’m no longer looking back at WebStorm.
I have an upcoming article that will go further into my development and VSCode setup, so subscribe to the newsletter if you don’t want to miss it.
As explained before, creating the pinned markdown file is quite easy. No extension is needed, which mean no performance impact. It only takes one markdown file, which should not change anything to your experience. Besides, it’s free, and you don’t have to open another application.
As you can see, setting everything up takes less than 2 minutes and there is no learning curve since it’s plain markdown. You take no risk of trying it out and either adopt it or simply move back to your old system.
I’ve been using it for the past three weeks and I absolutely love it. I can easily add things to my to-do list and see what’s left right from VSCode. I have to admit that there is nothing groundbreaking in my solution, and it might already be used by many.
What If You Close VSCode
There are times when I don’t have my computer or that I’m in a meeting with VSCode closed. When this happens, I often use my default to do applications (Things 3) or quickly create a note on Bear (or Apple Notes) that I will then add to VSCode.
Relying on only one system can be dangerous, having some fallback is important. I don’t like taking notes and to-do lists on paper since I always forgot the paper, or I’m commuting by train, which makes it hard to use a computer and a notebook at the same time. So my fallbacks are either Things (if the task is not related to development) or Bear if I want to add the task to my to-do list once I have access to VSCode.
It could be possible to have the file stored online (on git or even on iCloud or Dropbox) so it can be edited on the go. That’s not something I’m really planning to do, since I have my fallbacks. However, it can be a solid solution if you don’t want to have another application.
This is quite a quick article, there isn’t much to say. Try to pin a file and see if it works for you. The above video shows that is literally takes 30 seconds to have everything set up. It’s a near-zero investment and you might love it!
As I said before, I’m going to share my development setup and how I can have any (Apple) computer set in less than an hour. This will be an upcoming article, so subscribe to the newsletter if you’re interested!