This week, Microsoft released a new web-based version of its Visual Studio Code Integrated Development Environment (IDE). It joins the Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of the product as an alternative primarily aimed at web developers.
Microsoft describes vscode.dev as a realization of a long-time dream to host a sophisticated development environment that can run fully serverless in a web browser. It’s not as full-featured as the client versions of Visual Studio Code, of course, but it does support the following features:
A light(er)weight experience. The browser version of Visual Studio Code can do less than its client siblings—there’s no terminal or debugger, and you can’t compile, run, and debug non-web application types—but the resulting product is also more lightweight. For things like JSON, HTML, CSS, and LESS, the coding experience in vscode.dev is nearly identical to the desktop.
Extensions. Visual Studio Code’s success can be tied largely to its extensibility capabilities and most of the extensions that customize the UI—things like themes, keymaps, and snippets—all work in vscode.dev. And you can even enable settings roaming between the browser, the desktop, and GitHub Codespaces through Settings Sync. Incompatible extensions are marked as unavailable.
GitHub integration. VS Code for the Web comes with the GitHub Repositories, Codespaces, and Pull Request extensions built-in, helping you make edits, review pull requests, and continue on to a local clone or a GitHub Codespace. (In this way, it’s similar to github.dev, which is a customized version of VS Code for the Web that is integrated into GitHub.)
“Bringing VS Code to the browser is the realization of the original vision for the product,” Dias concludes. “It is also the start of a completely new one. An ephemeral editor that is available to anyone with a browser and an internet connection is the foundation for a future where we can truly edit anything from anywhere.”