This post is inspired by the attendee I overheard at this year’s Toronto User Conference saying “It’s the little nuggets you pick up at conferences that really make them worth it.” So here are the “nuggets” I picked up at the UC, hopefully there’s something golden here for you!

Visual Studio Code is a free and open source code editor from Microsoft with some compelling attributes. It features Intellisense, Microsoft’s moniker for an intelligent code completion tool that attempts to complete your line of code based on its use of various algorithms. Not a unique feature in itself, but combined with debugging functionality and built-in pairing with github, along with a myriad of available customizations and extensions, it may become your go-to editor, if not already.

Quokka.js is a live integrated scratchpad for VS code that offers a “rapid prototyping playground,” a catchy way of saying it continuously executes code and displays the results. Quokka emphasizes a user’s ability to quickly and efficiently experiment with code and get creative. Perhaps you can’t remember exactly how a function works and would like to call it to review output, or you want to execute a block or an entire file, this scratchpad has you covered.

Bracket Pair Colorizer is a convenient extension for VS Code that automatically colorizes bracket pairs to aid you in visually tracking their use. Particularly helpful in code such as JavaScript and PHP that is heavy on brackets, but also handy for those long sequences of nested functions in Python. Among the many simple but effective means of customizing VS Code for a more friendly interface.

Intern is a complete system for the testing of any JavaScript code, as well as web pages generated by server-side languages, and iOS, Android, and Firefox OS applications. Intern was developed with the intent of providing a comprehensive framework for testing JavaScript at a time when many different tools had to be integrated to achieve similar functionality. At the Toronto UC the most common theme across all of the demos I attended was the importance of unit testing. Whether a demo was performed with Python, JavaScript, or TypeScript, presenters utilized and stressed unit testing as a quality management tool to test each individual unit of their code.

Best practices for writing unit tests | Microsoft Docs is a resource that I found helpful on unit testing.

As for the User Conference, this was the best I have yet to attend! The new two-day format allowed you to catch a wide array of demos and possibly attend the second offering of a demo you missed the first time around. If you have yet to attend a User Conference, have only been to a single-day event, or only caught the first day this year, I highly recommend attending both days next time around (should it be offered again, to which I would say ‘yes, please!’).