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Visual Studio Live Share Allows Collaborative Development

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During the opening day keynote at Microsoft Build, the new Visual Studio Live Share extension was demonstrated, and is now available for public preview. Live Share provides real-time, bi-directional collaboration between developers, each on their respective computers, without the need to share repos or set up a development environment. The extension is available for Visual Studio 2017, as well as VS Code, including on Mac and Linux machines. It works across any language and codebase.

The demo highlighted what is expected to be a common use case: two developers sharing a debug session. When one developer, working on an Angular app in VS Code on a Mac, ran into a bug they needed help with, they created a new sharing session, and sent a link over IM to a second developer. The second developer opened the link, which launched Visual Studio on her PC. Because of the shared context on the host's machine, no platform dependencies, such as Node, were required on the assisting developer's machine.

Visual Studio Live Share demo dual screenshot

Each developer could see a cursor indicating where the other was currently working. When code was modified by either developer, the changes were immediately visible to both. For debugging, a breakpoint set in one IDE showed up in the other. The host can also run the app and setup a secure, shared server, allowing the remote worker to access the app, and step through and debug the code.

Microsoft believes Live Share takes pair programming to the next level. It allows each developer to stay in their preferred IDE comfort zone, with personal theme, key bindings, and customizations intact. Live Share also eliminates some of the limitations of traditional screen sharing approaches, such as managing control of the keyboard and mouse.

While Live Share collaboration is facilitated by an Azure relay, none of the code is stored in Azure, and files do not need to be saved on co-workers computers. The Live Share FAQs provide more information about the security aspects of the extension.

The Live Share extension is free during the preview, and is expected to remain free on an ongoing basis. Future versions may offer advanced versions as part of a paid tier.

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