On EditorConfig and Editor Wars

I'm a software developer so, this time, I'm writing about code.

We all know that conventions when writing code are important.

But we also know that every developer has his ego and his preferences: just look for a minute on the Internet to find the so-called Editor war between Emacs supporters against those of Vi or those against tabs or the spaces to indent the code, challenges between IntelliJ IDEA and Eclipse or Windows against GNU/Linux.

At least in the context of the main choices in writing the code, however, there is the possibility of choosing and standardizing these choices with a transversal solution compared to all many editors and modern development environments. This solution is called EditorConfig.

Why should you use an EditorConfig file in your project? Let's face it. It's 2020 and many of us are still fighting between tabs and spaces instead of thinking about the quality of the code and its features!

Nobody really cares (much ...) about the style of code used, the main concern is to choose one for the project that should be used consistently throughout the project code. It's your project, you can define your own rules. And anyone who contributes will adhere to these rules. Spaces tabs must be managed by the editor, not by people and this is where EditorConfig files come into play. All you need to do is insert a .editorconfig file into the project. In this file, you insert some (few) lines that define the configuration for the current project and the editor only applies these settings for this project.

This is a very useful technique for people working in large groups with different favorite editors. This allows everyone to have consistent coding styles across all editors.

You can choose the style of indentation (tab or spaces), you can choose the size of the indentation, the type of end of line, the set of characters to use, ... here is the main page of the EditorConfig project.

These might seem trivial when writing code for a large-scale application. But having an .editorconfig file ensures that these settings accompany the project in every place where the code is written. Which in turn ensures that the editor settings do not need to be optimized to have consistent coding styles. Some editors support EditorConfig natively. For most others, there is a plugin that enables EditorConfig support. Also, you can specify different types of configurations for different file types and even override the settings for a folder by creating another .editorconfig in that specific folder. And for the other options to configure, there is a wiki with details on those possible.


On EditorConfig and Editor Wars by Marco Bresciani is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0