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Lightweight Visual Studio Code in the browser arrives

Microsoft has whipped the covers off yet another take on code-in-the-browser with a lightweight version of Visual Studio Code, while unveiling the version 1.0 release of support for Red Hat Java in the freebie source wrangler.

It comes after last month’s preview of the code editor that runs entirely in the browser, and will doubtless have some users pondering the difference between this and Microsoft-owned GitHub’s github.dev, which also pops a development environment into the browser. One of the biggest of those differences is a lack of compulsory integration with the VS source-shack; this is unavoidable with github.dev (the clue is, after all, in the URL.)

VSCode.dev, on the other hand, will permit the opening up of a file from a local device (if the browser allows it and supports the File System Access API) in what looks for all the world like an instance of Visual Studio Code, except surrounded by the gubbins of a browser.

El Reg had a poke around

We fired it up on Chrome, Edge and Safari without issue. Developers will be unsurprised to learn that Internet Explorer was not happy with whatever was going on behind the scenes and vomited up a blank screen. The Chromium browser on a Raspberry Pi-400 worked well and even Safari on an iPhone produced a useable environment, if perhaps more suitable for a keen-eyed masochist.

As for what one can do, the answer is… not a huge amount by virtue of what is possible locally in the browser. For full-on remote development and debugging, something like Gitpod or the aforementioned GitHub Codespaces is a better bet (and, unsurprisingly, moving to the latter is relatively straightforward.)

That said, the convenience of being able to view and edit files, and review PRs without requiring a full install is undeniable. Particularly in places where the desktop version of Visual Studio Code fears to tread.

Java language support reaches 1.0 in Visual Studio Code

Very much requiring the desktop version of Visual Studio Code (if one wants to spit out apps) is the long-awaited version 1.0 of the Java extension, more than five years after Red Hat first announced it.

It has taken a while (and a good many iterations) and this week’s emission, replete with Java 17 support, represents quite the milestone. Performance has been upped, and the language server is more responsive, according to Microsoft, and there’s some basic Kotlin support.

In the future, the team plans to embed a Java runtime in the extension and continue working on the performance of language server. This would be handy, because when we took the extension for a spin, we wouldn’t describe it as eye-poppingly quick. More “acceptable”.

As for alternatives, the team is looking to “eventually reach feature parity” with what is on offer in the Eclipse Java IDE. However, for Java-wrangling Visual Studio Code users right now, this release 1.0 will be more than welcome. ®


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