One of the many strengths of creating an open source software project is that its community can tinker with it, contribute to it, or directly create it and create a custom version. Microsoft Visual Studio Code is an open source code editor and it is one of the most popular apps of its kind on any platform.
But you’re also not limited to using it only in the form Microsoft offers for download, thanks to its open source nature. In fact, you can run a version of Visual Studio Code in your web browser for free.
It’s not necessarily for everyone, but if you frequently switch between machines, or even want to be able to do some improvised coding from something like an iPad or even your smartphone, this is good. is a good option to explore. You can simply open it and get to work wherever you are, without needing to configure your environment.
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Run Visual Studio Code in the browser with ease
Microsoft has now released an official browser version of Visual Studio Code which can be found at vscode.dev. It integrates with Github allowing easy access to code stored in Github repositories directly from your web browser.
It’s not the same full version of Visual Studio Code that you would use on the desktop, but it does support extensions. Not all extensions can be installed, but you will probably find a fair amount of them, such as those that can help you better analyze the language you are coding in. However, you don’t have a terminal right now, so while it’s extremely handy to have, it probably won’t be your primary IDE yet.
Visual Studio Code in the browser with StackBlitz
If you’re looking for an easy way to use Visual Studio Code without configuration and you can just go to a browser and open it, StackBlitz is a good way to do it. It is completely free to use and is based on Visual Studio Code. Just connect it to your GitHub account to log in.
The user interface is immediately familiar and there are a number of preconfigured templates to help you start a new workspace with just one click. StackBlitz is for web development, so there are some languages that aren’t offered at the moment, but you can sign up for beta access to the fullstack version which will offer even more. Support for extensions is also missing from StackBlitz at this time.
But if you thought it’s a half-baked solution, you’d be wrong. StackBlitz uses progressive web APIs to run a live development server in your browser, allowing not only live previews of your work, but also offline use. Working offline is quite an important feature for a browser-based code editor.
There’s a lot to enjoy in StackBlitz, so if this sounds like something you might be interested in, the documentation and the GitHub repository are a good place to start.
Visual Studio Code in the browser using code-server
A more complete way to use Visual Studio Code from the browser is to use the Code Server or the Coder service built on it. Coding isn’t free, although there is a 60-day trial, and it’s not limited to Visual Studio Code either. It is a service intended for larger distributions and enterprise use, enabling remote deployment of development environments using the cloud.
However, code-server is free and available on GitHub to create your own remote deployment. Whether on your own local machine or on a remote machine hosted by a number of cloud providers.
There is a bit of setup involved with the code server and the exact steps vary depending on where you install it. And if you’re installing on a remote server, you’ll need to be at least a little familiar with Linux.
Fortunately, code-server has a full tutorial on getting started, and there is no shortage of excellent online guides from sources like YouTube that can walk you through a number of different uses for the code-server. It’s incredibly flexible, and once the initial work is done, you’ll have a full version of Visual Studio Code on any machine.
Using Chrome Remote Desktop
There’s also the fact that you can just use Chrome Remote Desktop like a little cheese to use Visual Studio Code in a browser from another machine. If it’s a regular thing, one of the other two methods here will definitely be better, but if it’s just occasional use, you’ll be fine.
Chrome Remote Desktop lets you use Chrome, Edge, or dedicated mobile apps to connect to your desktop computer even if you’re not on the same network. The downside, of course, is that you have to leave your desktop computer on all the time for it to work.
But hey, in a pinch, it’s a quick and easy way to connect to your regular office environment. It’s free, easy to set up, and absolutely stunning.