Remote Development Environments with Visual Studio Codespaces

Visual Studio Codespaces (VS Codespaces) provides cloud-powered development environments for short and long-term projects.

Users can work within environments via Visual Studio Code (VS Code), Visual Studio 2019 (Private Preview), a browser-based editor that is universally accessible, or self-hosted environments (for free).

Codespaces optimizes managed solutions prioritizing productivity over setup. It includes DevOps-oriented repeatability and reliability features conducive to maximizing self-managed remote development environments. Codespaces is also customizable and personalizable, thus empowering developers to leverage their preferred (remote) tools, processes, and configurations.

DevOps Process Flow
DevOps Process Flow

Concepts & Features

Remote Development

Codespaces enhances VS Code’s Remote Development extensions by accelerating onboarding and context switching processes across multiple environments.

VS Code Remote Development


An environment is considered the “backend” of VS Codespaces - the space where all the software development “magic” takes place.

Each codespace environment is fully customizable per project. For example, specific codespaces can be created to complete a task, review a pull request (PR), or start a new project. In addition, Codespaces configures the required runtime, compiler, debugger, editor, custom dotfiles, editor extensions, and source code of a project.

Codespaces also allows you to register and connect self-hosted AND cloud-hosted environments. Within the context of Azure, Codespaces enables environments that are:

  • Predictably priced with an “auto-suspend” feature to minimize cost.
  • Easily constructible (with respect to subscription limits) and disposable.
  • Well-managed to minimize personal machine usage and maintenance.
  • Agile enough to seamlessly migrate dev workloads to the cloud.

Git Repositories

Codespaces environments can be initialized via a Git repository, and a devcontainer.json file placed in the repository increases configuration options. It is also possible to clone private repositories via VS Code extensions (available in Visual Studio Marketplace), or the browser.

Clone Repository in Source Control


VS Codespaces supports the following trio of “frontend” editors:

  • Visual Studio Code (Public & Private Previews)
  • Visual Studio 2019 (Private Preview)
  • Visual Studio Code-based editor in the browser (Public & Private Previews)

Windows environments (Private Preview) are accessible via all three editors, whereas Linux environments (Public Preview) are only accessible via VS Code and the VS Code-based editor in the browser. Furthermore, with the aid of Marketplace extensions, developers can access these editors and utilize them remotely.

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Kahlil Crawford

Kahlil Crawford

Writer & Strategist

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