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InfoQ Homepage News Visual Studio Code Server Now Available in Private Preview

Visual Studio Code Server Now Available in Private Preview

Microsoft has announced a private preview of the backend service that powers its Visual Studio Code editor, along with a specific CLI to manage it. Visual Studio Code Server can be installed everywhere and easily used through VS Code for the Web running in a browser.

Visual Studio Code Server is another move in Microsoft's journey to enable remote development based on its popular editor. The journey started in 2019 with the introduction of the VS Code Remote Development extensions and led later to the introduction of GitHub Codespaces, which quickly became GitHub default development platform.

That is quite a lot of flexibility for a code editor, which is possible thanks to Visual Studio Code architecture:

We can do this because VS Code is, by design, a multi-process application. Conceptually, the front end (where you type your code) runs in one process and a backend service (which hosts extensions, the terminal, debugging, etc.) runs in a separate process.

While the Remote Extensions already enabled to code "remotely" using a local VS Code frontend, that requires dealing with SSH or HTTPS configuration, which admittedly is not entirely desirable. With Visual Studio Code Server, Microsoft aims to simplify the overall process of installing, managing, and connecting to your "remote" instance.

VS Code Server [...] is a service built off the same underlying server used by the remote extensions, plus some additional functionality, like an interactive CLI and facilitating secure connections to

Visual Studio Code Server CLI, named code-server, differs from the standard code CLI that you normally use on your desktop machine. The new CLI is able to establish a secure tunnel between VS Code for the Web, also known as, and your remote machine, so you can use as a frontend to your own VS Code Server running on your premises or in the Cloud.

The CLI also supports the possibility of running the VS Code Web UI on your own and then using the code-server serve-local command to connect it to your Server instance. This will require you to properly setup an HTTPS connection from your Web UI to the server, though.

You install Visual Studio Code Server running wget -O- | sh on a Linux box, Mac, or Windows machine running WSL. When you start the server running code-server, it will communicate with through a secure tunnel and provide a login token and an authentication URL. After authenticating, the CLI spins up a server instance and generates a URL that you can use in any browser.

To get access to the VS Code Server preview, you will need to request access using this registration form.

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