How do I use VSCode in the SigTech platform?
Existing users of the SigTech platform will be well acquainted with our JupyterLab environment. This environment is ideal for research and backtesting purposes. However, many developers of quant infrastructure are often used to their own favourite IDEs (integrated development environment). As a supplement to JupyterLab, we have integrated VSCode on our quant technology platform to give our users more freedom and flexibility to use the platform.
What is Visual Studio Code?
Visual Studio Code is a source-code editor developed by Microsoft. In the Stack Overflow Developer 2021 study, VSCode was ranked the most popular developer environment tool. It can be used with a variety of programming languages, including Python, and its features include support for debugging, syntax highlighting, extensions and embedded git functionality.
What are the differences between JupyterLab and VSCode?
When Jupyter notebooks were introduced, it revolutionised how data scientists organised projects, allowing them to efficiently analyse datasets using Python. As an extension, JupyterLab was developed to address some of Jupyter Notebook’s shortcomings and now provides users a next-generation interface.
Given the flexibility of JupyterLab, it was chosen as the prime choice of IDE for the SigTech platform. JupyterLab has many advantages such as being easy to cloud-host, ideal for data analysis, and has the flexibility to incorporate SigTech’s comprehensive quant framework.
However, as SigTech’s framework evolves to become more extensive, many of our users need to create customised code built upon the existing framework. This code can vary in complexity from simple analytics tools through to customised building blocks that extend from the 300+ SigTech currently offers.
The key difference between JupyterLab and VSCode is the development-focused aspect that Visual Studio provides. Tools such as debugging are even more effective in this development-focused environment.
Can I still use notebooks in VSCode?
One of the many benefits of using VSCode is the ability to use JupyterLab notebooks within the VSCode environment. This allows work to be completely transferable between the two research environments.
How do I use the additional tools in VSCode?
In SigTech’s initialised environment, you can launch all workspaces within one central location. The integrated search function allows you to search across all workspaces, returning hits on Python files as well as Jupyter notebooks. Each workspace operates as its own git-controlled repository, enabling a developer to source-control each of the workspaces using VSCodes’ built-in git functionality.
You can debug directly in either Python files or Jupyter notebooks. Debugging can display helpful information to developers keen on understanding exactly how the SigTech framework works. Through the debugging feature you can view Jupyter variables such as pandas data frames in VSCode’s native data viewer. This gives the viewer the ability to search, sort and filter data directly using this extension.
Given that SigTech makes most of its source code public, VSCode makes it easier to navigate the SigTech framework directly via the research environment. Go-to definitions will take you to the exact location in the SigTech framework, making it easier to understand how the building blocks are created as well as how they could be modified.
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