Microsoft has thrown its hat into the increasingly crowded ring of code-anywhere developer tools with a private preview of Visual Studio Code Server.
The product follows the Remote Development Extensions for Visual Studio Code, which allowed applications to be developed using a local copy of the IDE and a “remote” Windows Subsystem for Linux.
Running on managed machines via SSH followed a year later, and more recently GitHub Codespaces and Visual Studio Code for the Web have appeared.
While the latter two require going to the mercy of Microsoft or its GitHub code-shack, the release of Visual Studio Code Server (the backend service that makes the magic happen) means you can spawn the server on your developer’s workstation (or Virtual Machine in the cloud) and run it through the browser using Visual Studio Code for the Web without worrying about SSH or HTTPS,” although you can also do that if you want. want,” Microsoft added.
It opens up the possibility of using a browser on a machine without native Visual Studio Code support, connected to a machine running Visual Studio Code Server.
But there are limits. The private preview is launched using
code-server. Need something more (like installing extensions) and you’ll have to fall back on the
code CLI. You’ll also be asked to agree to the terms of a license agreement that allows Microsoft to receive telemetry data, but those using tools from Redmond probably know what they’re signing up for.
There are also many alternatives. Gitpod’s OpenVSCode server comes to mind, as does Coder’s code server (now up to version 4.5).
All in all, the Visual Studio Code Server Private Preview is welcome, if it’s a long time coming. It’s also somewhat symptomatic of Microsoft’s scattershot approach to developers, as it seeks to capitalize on the esteem in which Visual Studio Code is held.
We now await the inevitable rebranding. Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (a rather different product) was eventually renamed Azure DevOps Server. It may only be a matter of time before something is pulled from the ether for what looks like a very handy development tool. ®