Microsoft introduces VSCode.Dev, Visual Studio Code in the browser
Microsoft has started the cloud-based version of its Visual Studio code editor via the vscode.dev domain, which offers a simplified version of the editor that can be executed directly from the browser without installation.
While it doesn’t compare to its desktop counterpart, Visual Studio Code for the web has quite a few features, including local file editing in browsers that support it File system access API, Syntax coloring, text-based completions, syntax highlighting and errors, etc. However, the actual availability of these functions depends on the language, as they must be fully executed in the browser.
The power of Visual Studio Code for the desktop relies on a host of enhancements that allow new features and functionality to be added to the editor and enable many developers to be more productive and customize their workflows. How it is understandable not all Visual Studio Code extensions that can be used on the desktop are compatible with the web version.
When VS Code is used on the web, installed extensions run on an extension host in the browser called the “web extension host”. An extension that can run on a web extension host is called a “web extension”.
While extensions use the same VS Code API, they cannot use the Node.js API or load modules. According to Microsoft, most UI customization extensions will work, but extensions that require operating system specific npm modules or run local executables cannot.
VS Code Web includes a number of extensions that you can use to work with GitHub, such as: For example, to make quick changes, review PRs, and quickly switch to a local clone or GitHub codespace when you need more performance.
VS Code for the web looks similar to github.dev, GitHub’s browser-based code editor that can be accessed directly from any GitHub repository or pull request. The main difference between the two solutions, both based on VS Code, is the deeper integration of
github.dev in GitHub, while VS Code Web aims to work with multiple repository hosting services, including GitHub and Azure Repos, and with the ability to support more through extensions.
It’s also worth noting that VS Code Web is fundamentally different from GitHub codespaces, although the latter is also based on VS Code, as it provides a whole environment that allows you to install plugins and build scripts, GitHub actions, etc. to execute. In addition, codespaces will remain limited to team or company users for the time being. If you’re interested in exploring an alternative solution for a portable, cloud-based development environment, you can have a look gitpod.io or Eclipse-Che.
The developers at Hacker News have welcomed the announcement of VS Code for the Web and praised it responsiveness and the ability to transparently and effortlessly move your development environment from one device to another and in exactly the same condition where you left it off. Many developers also pointed to the new convenience of using an iPad or Android tablet for development tasks, even offline or for education. A useful tip in this regard is creating an app shortcut to be able to launch the editor directly from your home screen, which removes the browser chrome and creates the editor Handle control keystrokes correctly. On the negative side of the comments, some developers expressed concern that VS Code Web is partially closed source, with the resulting risk of lock in into a development environment that can change its licensing or prices at any time.
Visual Studio Code for the web runs optimally on modern browsers, including Chrome and Edge. In particular, Safari’s limitations make it impossible to support the use of local files.