Developing for Playdate in VS Code

I created a template repo on GitHub with my VS Code setup (for Mac) that lets me build and run my project in the simulator:

Playdate VS Code Template


When I started developing with the Playdate SDK, I tried out Panic’s Nova editor. It’s a very nicely designed native Mac app. I expected to like it more than VS Code, which I only reluctantly adopted a few years ago because it’s the tool we use at work. But when working in Nova I found myself being constantly slowed down by the minor differences from what I’m used to.

I tried a few times to get set up developing for Playdate in VS Code. This Playdate extension in the VS Marketplace seemed outdated and didn’t work. Tinkering around in the settings.json and tasks.json got me to where I could build a project, but I couldn’t figure out how to automatically launch the simulator. (Nova of course has excellent integration with the Playdate simulator.)

I finally found an old post on the Playdate Discord where Dovuro posted examples of his VS Code config files. They looked too simple to actually be the answer I had been searching for, but lo and behold they worked—no extension or complex setup required. My template is based on his files.

Old Friend

Now that I’m back in VS Code, I’m surprised to find that autocomplete for the Playdate SDK actually seems better than in Nova1. In Nova, typing will bring up autocomplete suggestions for everything in the SDK, instead of just the things in the “graphics” module. VS Code does this properly, and also provides suggestions for code in my own modules, which I didn’t seem to be getting in Nova.

And I can finally once again select a keyword in my code and see all other instances highlighted. I never realized how much I rely on that feature until it was missing. It seems strange that Nova doesn’t have this. Perhaps I just couldn’t find the setting to enable it.

I do look forward to trying Nova again once it’s gotten a bit more mature.

  1. Turns out this nice autocomplete I’m getting is coming from the Lua extension, not VS Code itself.