GitHub takes Visual Studio Code online

GitHub Codespaces give you and your team a VS Code development environment as part of your repository, along with threaded discussions

GitHub takes Visual Studio Code online
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In his keynote at GitHub’s recent Satellite event, CEO Nat Friedman said, “In the age of social distancing, people are turning to social coding.” We’re working from home, using the tools built into GitHub to replace the gaps in our workflow that used to be filled with interactions with colleagues. Tools such as GitHub have become more than the place we store and share code. They’re now our virtual workplaces, encompassing more of our development workflows.

The relationship between GitHub and Microsoft is an interesting one. Microsoft owns GitHub, but it is run as a separate entity with very little contact between the two organizations. It’s a division that makes sense, as GitHub’s role as a global repository for proprietary and open source software requires that it be a neutral hub—a United Nations of software. That’s allowed GitHub to continue running on its own infrastructure, built on its own tools and technologies. Meanwhile Microsoft has increased its dependencies on GitHub, building its own tools on GitHub’s Electron framework and using GitHub in its own development processes.

Build it in GitHub Codespaces

It’s interesting to see GitHub building one of its newest features on top of a Microsoft technology (albeit one with a strong open source foundation). Microsoft recently changed the name of its Visual Studio Online cloud-hosted development environment to Visual Studio Codespaces, and Satellite saw GitHub launch a similar product using the same name.

It’s important to note that although both Visual Studio Codespaces and GitHub Codespaces are built on top of Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code editor, they are very different products. As Visual Studio Code uses GitHub’s Electron, it’s a TypeScript application. That makes it easy to port to the Web and modern Web browsers, with its Monaco code editor open source. Microsoft is using Codespaces as a way to extend your desktop development environment into the cloud, and share it with ad hoc collaborators. GitHub treats Codespaces quite differently, giving you a browser-hosted editing environment as part of a code repository.

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