A new option to encode on a Chromebook: VSCode.dev
I know not everyone is a developer, but this news is too important not to be shared. Microsoft announced an online version of its popular Integrated Development Environment (IDE) VS Code this week, bringing a new option for people who want to code on a Chromebook.
By pointing your Chromebook browser to https://vscode.dev/, you will have an online instance of VS Code that is no different from the desktop version. This is the IDE that I have tended to use on my Chromebook, first for undergraduate computer science courses, and currently for a master’s degree in computer science at Georgia Tech.
Of course, so far I’ve had to rely on my Chromebook’s Linux functionality to install the full VS Code app in order to code on a Chromebook. And it works well. This latest Microsoft project, however, does not require the installation of any desktop applications. Instead, you just work in the IDE in your browser.
There is still a downside.
There are some limitations to using VS Code on the web that make it better for coding in some languages than others. My first stumbling block was to notice that there is no Terminal support in this implementation.
Microsoft offers some useful tips on which coding experiences will be good and which will be better, depending on constraints and available features:
Good: For most programming languages, vscode.dev gives you code syntax colorization, text-based completions, and bracket pair colorization. By using a Tree-sitter syntax tree, we are able to provide additional experiences such as Outline / Go to Symbol and Symbol Search for popular languages such as C / C ++, C #, Java, PHP, Rust, and Go.
Better: For many “webby” languages, such as JSON, HTML, CSS, and LESS, the coding experience in vscode.dev is almost identical to that on the desktop (including Markdown preview!).
Although there are very big limitations, the online version of VS Code could be useful for quick development efforts. As long as you are online, you have another tool in your toolbox for coding on a Chromebook!