Streamlining your MATLAB experience has never been easier. With a seamless installation process that eliminates the hassle of environment setup, MATLAB stands as a reliable platform. Upon installation, you gain immediate access to an all-inclusive environment equipped with an editor, comprehensive documentation, handy apps, and a plethora of mathematical libraries. While this convenience is undeniable, there are scenarios where diverging from the MATLAB ecosystem can significantly enhance your productivity. This article will delve into our preferred scenarios for bypassing MATLAB, particularly when dealing with MATLAB files, while also uncovering lesser-known treasures that can astonish even seasoned MATLAB users to motivate people to use the MATLAB Editor.

VS Code instead of MATLAB Editor

If you are going to use VS Code as an editor for MATLAB be sure to install the MATLAB Extension.

1 Leveraging Git for Version Control

When working with Git and MATLAB you have basically 3 options:

  1. use Source Control Menu on the folder browser
  2. use MATLAB projects Source Control
  3. use Visual Studio Code (or another tool) for working with Version Control

For more in depth house about Git and MATLAB check VersionBay Academy where we have a course git for MATLAB users.

2 Searching Files

MATLAB has had for many years the search tool but power users will find that the search command from Visual Studio Code just better for the following reasons

VS Code Find Files
MATLAB R2023a Find Files

Notice that the VS Code has the search accessible from the right pane, with automatically search and replace, across multiple files with the option to include and exclude certain files. This is also just faster and more convenient than using the MATLAB Find Files. The one gotcha is that mlx and other MathWorks proprietary files are not parsed correctly by VS Code with the extension.

Good reasons to use the MATLAB Editor

1 Live Editor

The Live Editor employs the *.mlx format, unique to MATLAB, rendering it incompatible with standard text editors. While it boasts advantages such as interactive widgets and tasks, there’s a trade-off in terms of editing speed, especially for larger files, when compared to the *.m format.

2 App Designer

MATLAB’s App Designer supersedes the now-replaced GUIDE tool. While it offers a potent and user-friendly interface for building MATLAB user interfaces, some areas could benefit from refinement:

  • Performance enhancements.
  • Addressing version control conflicts more seamlessly.
  • Establishing clearer guidelines for setting up a Model-View-Controller (MVC) workflow.

That being said the MVCP blog post is a good starting point.

3 Debugger

MATLAB’s debugger has received accolades for its intuitive functionality. Setting breakpoints and employing the command-line debugger presents a seamless debugging experience that’s both efficient and responsive. A unique feature even permits debugging within a debug session. However, a minor drawback lies in the absence of a dedicated option to disable the debugger. Every MATLAB algorithm executes with the debugger active. Seasoned users are also surprised when they learn about the conditional breakpoints.

4 Profiler

MATLAB’s flexibility in coding standards enables swift initiation, but can also lead to suboptimal code. When seeking to enhance efficiency and identify bottlenecks, the Profiler is a go-to tool. With minimal effort, you can generate detailed reports, including flame graphs and coverage analysis, making code optimization a breeze.

5 Comparing MAT files, folders

When dealing with MATLAB, saving data in MAT files is common. MATLAB offers a neat trick for comparing two MAT files: an in-built feature that scrutinizes variables within the files and guides you through their differences. This functionality proves invaluable when dealing with extensive MAT files featuring intricate nested structures. Furthermore, this tool simplifies folder and file comparisons, aiding version control tasks involving proprietary formats.

6 Documentation

MATLAB boasts a well-regarded documentation system that sets an industry standard. While each iteration improves documentation quality, the extensive scope of tools can complicate navigation. While the ideal approach would be direct in-documentation searches, many users resort to external search engines. Recent MATLAB versions default to online documentation with local documentation as optional installation step.

Highlights of MATLAB documentation include:

  • Integrated view housing examples, functions, APIs, and community input.
  • Organized by toolbox, application, and resource categories.
  • Support for personalized documentation integration.