VSCode Julia debugger usability

This is not a new topic, and I am aware progress is being made… Just would like to bump its priority if possible. :slight_smile:

Currently the VSCode Julia debugger’s standard mode is too slow for practical use if large packages are used. The experimental Compiled Mode has good speed but would not break inside any function call - only the level the current debugger is working on is breakable and it’s not reliable enough either. The same was true for Juno based on Atom.

I have been promoting Julia for a key internal project among engineers for over a year, and the battel was lost. Colleagues still chose Python due to the debugging experience and overall IDE maturity. Managers still chose Python due to its popularity (easy to hire, easy to collaborate). And frankly, for majority of engineering applications Python’s slow speed is tolerable, so if writing in Python is more pleasant, few would like to spend weeks to pick up a new language.

The debugging experience seems to be a constant pain point for switching to Julia for those who are familiar with Matlab or Python but are not career programmers. I truly appreciate the work from developers that drive constant progress to the IDE and regret that I lack the skills to help in the development, but I’d just like to bump this up again since based on my experience, Julia is already great in language features and execution speed; the debugging experience seems to be THE BIGGEST obstacle for adoption that the community can solve in near term, followed by the time-to-first-plot issue (which is being improved). (Popularity is a bigger problem but that’s not something one can just work and solve.)

If Julia’s IDE can work as well as Spyder or RStudio, I believe this alone will drive more adoption.

Thanks again for the great language and extension.

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You might appreciate some of the work around selective setting of compiled mode in the VSCode debug UI: https://github.com/julia-vscode/julia-vscode/pull/1888. It’s still not as simple as not having to worry about compiled mode at all, but IMO it should help immensely for debugger UX.

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Thanks! This looks cool and I’ll try it out once it hits Julia Insider extension.