Visual Studio Code editor now available as a web app

Visual Studio Code editor now available as a web app

Microsoft Visual Studio Code is one of the best code editors currently available. It’s completely free, can be extended with thousands of extensions, and works on all major desktop platforms. Even though it’s based on web technologies (it’s an Electron application), Visual Studio Code has never had a fully-functional version available in a web browser, until now.

Microsoft has rolled out a web-based version of Visual Studio Code, accessible at vscode.dev. It looks and feels exactly like the desktop application, with the ability to install extensions and sync your settings with a GitHub or Microsoft account login. You can log into a remote repository, or upload single files and download them when you’re done. If your browser supports the File System Access API (like the desktop versions of Chrome, Edge, and Opera), you can work with local folders on your device without any uploading or downloading.

“With the availability of vscode.dev,” the Visual Studio Code team said in the blog post, we begin to finally realize our original vision of building a development tool that can run fully serverless in the browser.” Importantly, this allows Visual Studio Code to run on iPads and Android tablets for the first time, or in environments where installing desktop software is limited or blocked (like corporate or educational environments). This also means you can run Visual Studio Code on Chromebooks without enabling Linux app support, or older Chromebooks that never received Linux support in the first place.

Even though this is an impressive port, Visual Studio Code on the web has a few limitations. Most extensions don’t work right now, because they need to be updated to run as web extensions that don’t rely on Node.js code or local executables. Luna Paint Image Editor and GitHub Issue Notebooks are two examples of extensions that work in VS Code on the web. Microsoft has also integrated theme support, with easy testing using special URLs — for example, opening vscode.dev/theme/sdras.night-owl takes you to VS Code with the Night Owl theme installed.

Microsoft is also planning more updates to VS Code on the web. “Bringing VS Code to the browser is the realization of the original vision for the product. 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.”

About author

Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's also the host of the Tech Tales podcast, which explores the history of the technology industry. Follow him on Twitter at @corbindavenport.