Visual Studio Code is one of the most popular and loved IDEs by developers. And it’s understandable. It’s an excellent and complex IDE that has everything you need.
I enjoy it, and I have been using it since the beginning of my career.
So, I have nothing wrong to say about it.
However, I came across another IDE that made me switch instantly. It's been my primary editor for a while, and I couldn't be happier.
And a spoiler alert: this IDE is more or less… VS Code. Yes, you read that right.
The Boom of AI Products
But before showing you the product, let’s briefly talk about AI.
The recent boom of AI has resulted in many products that use AI in one form or another. It feels like a dozen AI products are released weekly.
From my experience, most of those products are mostly hype and not very useful.
But if you’re patient enough to sift through all these products, you might find a gem that’s actually a great product.
And that’s the case with the new code editor I'll show you in this post.
What About VS Code + AI?
But why switch code editors? Why not use Visual Studio Code with an AI tool like ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is already super popular and is used by almost all developers. More or less, and in one form or another.
2 of the most common ways developers use ChatGPT are to:
- generate new code from prompts
- and ask questions based on a piece of code
But this combo, VS Code + ChatGPT, has a couple of issues.
On a usual day, the above use cases can result in a lot of back and forth between the code editor and ChatGPT.
But that's the least of the worries.
My main issues with ChatGPT are that it doesn't have context about your codebase and can't reference files from the codebase. And until recently, it couldn't even reference documentation websites.
It's pretty limited in this regard.
But, it's understandable since ChatGPT and similar tools are general-purpose and not geared towards coding. However, that didn't make it less frustrating.
So, what's the solution, then?
The AI VS Code
I remember someone suggesting I try a new IDE with AI capabilities.
I was initially skeptical because I don't believe the hype behind most products. Even more, it has paid plans, which turned me off (more on that later).
But then I thought of giving it a try. What do I have to lose?
And that's how I started using Cursor.
Cursor is a VS Code fork and claims to be the first AI code editor.
That's how I came up with the post title. It's VS Code with AI capabilities. Since I'm a big fan of the normal VS Code, I was sold out immediately.
- you can chat with your code
It has context about your codebase, and you can ask anything about it. It takes the existing code into consideration when answering your questions.
Moreover, you can reference files and docs when asking questions. This is useful because you can help the AI get more context when answering your questions.
- generate and refactor code
You can easily generate and refactor code. Select a code block and press either
Command + L to start the AI Chat with the selected code or
Command + K to do it in-line.
- debugging and fixing lints is much easier
One of my favorite and most used features is the debugging feature. When you encounter a bug, you can click the
Auto debug button, which looks through your files and tries to fix the problem.
Moreover, fixing lint errors is now a breeze. Instead of reading a TypeScript error with a zillion lines, you can ask Cursor to explain and fix it. From my experience, it manages to fix the issues in 95% of the cases. I'm so thankful for this feature alone!
These 3 features are the main reasons that made me switch to Cursor. I feel more productive since I switched to Cursor, because it allows me to utilize AI to its full capabilities right into my code editor. I don't need to use other external tools and pay the price of context switching. Moreover, the usage of other AI tools (except Copilot) has gone down drastically. I barely use ChatGPT & others since I started using Cursor.
The Meh Parts
The biggest drawback for me is that Cursor is a paid product. Usually, I don't mind paying for products I find valuable. But considering it's a fork of VS Code, which is open-source and free, it feels weird. Maybe it's just me.
Thankfully, there is a free tier. And even better, you can use your OpenAI API key, which is what I'm doing.
It's important to mention that you can pay more when using your OpenAPI key. Especially, if you use the AI features heavily. There were months when I paid $30-$40. However, most of the time, I paid less than $20. On average, my bill was the same or less as subscribing to the paid Cursor plan.
Another drawback for some people could be that Cursor stores the code on their servers or logs. Once again, there's an alternative if you want to avoid that. Thankfully.
You can opt out of them collecting data about you and your code.
Cursor claims they won't store your code if you enable the "Privacy Mode", as shown in the image above.
That said, these are the only 2 drawbacks and the only things that bugged me until now. Other than that, I'm more than happy with this code editor.
If you've used Cursor and found other drawbacks, feel free to share them in the comments below.
As you can tell from the post, my experience with Cursor has been great. It took the best of 2 worlds - one of the best code editors (VS Code) and AI capabilities - and mashed them together.
To close off, I want to mention that they didn't sponsor this post, and I have no affiliation with them at the time of publishing the post. I enjoy the product and want to share it with others.