Introducing Visual Studio Codespaces: cloud-hosted development for wherever you’re working

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Nik

As we’ve all been adopting practices like social distancing and remote working, development teams have become more distributed. Our own team has been facing some of the challenges that are part of this transition, and it has motivated us to double down on our priority to help developers stay productive from anywhere. First, we made remote collaboration easier by enabling users to join Live Share sessions from their browser. Today, I’m excited to share more news, this time related to Visual Studio Online, that will help you be productive from wherever you’re working.

Tl;dr – new name, lower prices, added features!

Visual Studio Codespaces

Introducing Visual Studio Codespaces

In November I had the privilege to announce the public preview of Visual Studio Online to the world. Over the last few months we’ve had a blast learning from our users and finding ways to improve. One of the most consistent things we’ve heard is that the ability to create cloud-hosted dev environments is having a positive impact in more ways than we had thought. In particular, our users are finding that:

  • The time it takes to onboard to new projects (or new tasks within an existing project) is much shorter
  • The performance of their cloud dev environment in many ways feels better than their local environment
  • The ability to easily switch between Visual Studio Code, the browser-based editor, or the Visual Studio IDE (in private preview) gives them the flexibility to work from just about any device
  • It’s easy to collaborate with others since Live Share is built-in for co-authoring, editing, and debugging.

We learned that developers are finding Visual Studio Online to be much more than just an “editor in the browser”. They are saying that “the capabilities of this cloud-hosted dev environment make it the space where I want to write all my code“.

To better align with that sentiment, and the true value of the service, we’re renaming Visual Studio Online to Visual Studio Codespaces. (It’s true what they say, naming is hard! 😉) Do you want a great experience working on your long-term project? Do it in a Codespace. Need to quickly prototype a new feature or perform some short-term tasks (like reviewing pull requests)? Create a Codespace! Your Codespaces are simply the most productive space to code. 🎉

Look for these naming changes to begin appearing in the product in the coming weeks and months.

New, lower prices

We believe that Visual Studio Online Codespaces offers the best remote development experience on the market. We want to make sure as many people as possible have access to and use Codespaces, especially given the challenges we all currently face. To make that a reality, we’re lowering our prices over the course of the next week.

As we always have, we’ll continue to charge only for the time and resources you use (and not one second more!). While you’re active in a Codespace it leverages Azure compute resources. The new pricing for each active Codespace is available on our pricing page, or the Azure pricing calculator.

As you might be able to imagine, this is a change that I’m very excited to be able to announce. 😀

Only the power you need

Finally, we’re also announcing one new feature today. (Is this my “one more thing” moment!?) While developers love the performance that they are seeing in our cloud-hosted Codespaces, we’ve also learned that there’s lots of scenarios that either don’t require so much power, or where developers want to run multiple smaller Codespaces so that they can flexibly multitask.

To better enable those scenarios, as well as to help people transitioning to remote development for the first time, we’re introducing a Basic instance type that comes with two virtual cores, four GB RAM, and 64 GB of SSD storage. We did a lot of testing with this configuration, and the experience is just as great as it is on our Standard and Premium instance types – but at a lower cost. Basic instance types are available right now.

The pricing for the Basic instance type is also available on our pricing page and the Azure pricing calculator.

Remote development, better than ever

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also take this opportunity to let you know that in the past few months we’ve added some other great features to the service! My personal favorite is our support for bring-your-own Dockerfiles or images. With this feature, a Codespace can be tailored to your exact specifications, either by pointing at an image from a registry like Docker Hub, or by placing a custom Dockerfile in your repository, which Visual Studio Codespaces will run and connect you to.

We also recently shipped a small but mighty feature that lets users change the instance size of their environments. This means that you can spend the majority of your time in a lower powered, lower cost environment and then “upgrade the horsepower” only if and when you need to – without losing state or having to create a new environment. To top it off, the Basic instance type also supports this, so you can play Goldilocks and find the instance type that’s just right for you. 👩🏼 🐻🐻🐻

The last recent addition that I’m excited about is the massive improvement we’ve made to our self-hosted environment capabilities. With self-hosted environments you can register any machine to Visual Studio Codespaces and connect to it from either VS Code or our browser-based editor. Best of all, this is 100% free! My colleague Allison announced all the details – be sure to check out her post for more info.

Try it now

Between our lowered pricing, spiffy new name, the Basic instance type, and all the other features the team has been shipping, there’s never been a better time to try remote development with Visual Studio Codespaces. Go give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments.

Stay safe out there,
Nik Molnar & the Visual Studio Codespaces team 👍🏼

* – Prices are approximate. The most accurate pricing is available on the Azure pricing calculator

31 comments

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  • Avatar
    Rosdi Kasim

    VERY interesting!… I tried it for 10 minutes or so… looks very-very good.

    I hope this means I won’t have to buy muscular laptops anymore… just a good laptop with enough screen real estate and with good internet speed. Feel wasteful I have to upgrade by laptop every 4-5 years just to keep up with the IDE requirements.

    For Visual Studio version will we be able to install extensions such as R# and such?

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    Mark Blackie

    How does remote work within a company’s network or if using a company’s VPN? Can the VS Code Online access those machines? Can keys be used for login? When using this service, is any data stored on MS servers while using this service?

    • Avatar
      Nik MolnarMicrosoft logo

      Great questions Mark!

      If you’re self-hosting your environment, you’ve able to join it to your VPN and connect to the company’s network today. For Azure hosted Codespaces, we’re working on adding support to connect back into the company network. Look for that to roll out in the coming months.

      In terms of data storage: Yes, data is stored in Azure in the region that you create your plan in. It is stored in an isolated storage account that is only used for your environment, and is deleted when you delete the environment.

  • Avatar
    Mark Fayngersh

    This is awesome, noticed that it now loads on the iPad Pro in Safari and works for the most part, except for scrolling via the new Magic Keyboard trackpad. Would be simply perfect once that works as well 🙂

      • Avatar
        Alexander Rettkowski

        Hi Nik,
        thanks for reminding me not to rely on documentation too heavily.
        As stated here:

        We currently support GitHub as a hosting provider. However, work to improve and extend our support for additional hosting providers is ongoing.

        I just tried connecting one of my repositories and it does work as you promised 😉 That’s awesome!

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    Charles Roddie

    Can you advise on Live Share vs Codespaces?

    We are using Visual Studio 2019 and F#. It isn’t of huge interest to us where code is running, but we’d like to have as much as possible a native experience from two machines simultaneously. Especially the ability to see intellisense.

    • Avatar
      Nik MolnarMicrosoft logo

      Hey there Charles!

      Think of Live Share as a telephone. It connects two people together and let’s them communicate (in this case, collaborate with code, terminals, debugger, etc).

      Think of Codespaces like a super-charged VM that’s very much specialized for developers.

      You can move your development environment into the cloud with Codespaces, if you so choose. Live Share is built into those environments, so you’ll be able to bring multiple developers into the Codespace to collaborate at the same time. Codespaces also makes it very easy to onboard new developers onto a project, and give them their own isolated space to develop.

      Live Share is also available for traditional, local development environments – so if all you need is the collaboration features, without the cloud-hosted Codespace, you can do that too.

      I hope that helps clarify things for you!

  • Avatar
    Emiliano Parizzi

    This is great, I’m looking forward to try it out. Unfortunately, it still can’t detect all my subscriptions. It just works with the one in my default directory (which doesn’t have a Pay-to-Go plan). The one in my other directory (my company’s does have a PTG), but it doesn’t show up.

  • Avatar
    Lane Cipriani

    This is a superb service and integration, well done. This will really change things up for our workflow.

    It’s so incredibly close on the iPad too: Edge iOS seems to be a bit better with scrolling, but doesn’t load all of the extensions. Safari loads the extensions, but scrolling isn’t great.

    The biggest issue on iOS seems to be a problem loading the Remote Explorer – the Codespaces section and list won’t load, which appears to be the only real issue for iPad use for us – because we need access to the generated Port to view the built/running app in another browser tab.

    Can’t wait to see how this proceeds.