Microsoft has bitten the bullet and is to drop Visual Studio Codespaces in favour of GitHub Codespaces.
Formerly Visual Studio Online, Visual Studio Codespaces brought forth Azure-powered development environments, with either a browser-based version of Visual Studio Code or its desktop equivalent. A private preview using the full-fat Visual Studio IDE was also made available.
GitHub Codespaces popped out shortly after, looking suspiciously similar to its Visual Studio-branded sibling. Linux lurks under the hood of both, although the Visual Studio incarnation required hooking up to an Azure subscription the alternative enjoyed a GitHub-native experience.
GitHub Codespaces: VS Code was ‘designed from the get-go’ for this, says Microsoft architect
“We started hearing,” said Allison Buchholtz-Au, program manager II, Visual Studio Online, “that the two distinct experiences were causing confusion amongst our users.”
The solution, according to Microsoft, is a “consolidation” of Visual Studio Codespaces into GitHub Codespaces. And so cometh the Microsoft axeman.
Developers have until 17 February 2021 to shift off the Azure incarnation and into the loving embrace of GitHub Codespaces. At that point the Visual Studio Codespaces portal will be retired and “all plans and codespaces remaining in the service will be deleted,” according to Microsoft.
On 20 November this year, the ability to create new plans and codespaces will be disabled; new users will only be able to sign up for the currently in-limited-beta Codespaces on GitHub.
Those already working with Visual Studio Codespaces will be asked to add a preferred GitHub account to the limited public beta of GitHub Codespaces, and those with an Azure subscription that includes a Visual Studio Codespaces plan will get an email requesting a preferred GitHub account.
Sadly, there will be no automated migration for Visual Studio Codespaces users. Things will need to be recreated in the GitHub Codespaces beta once access has been granted.
Those in the full-fat Visual Studio 2019 private preview will be directed to GitHub’s version “as soon as it’s available in the next few weeks”, while others preferring to use Git repositories hosted elsewhere (such as Bitbucket) will need a few extra configuration steps to get things working.
As for what else will change, Microsoft has remained relatively tightlipped and said only that self-hosting machines could prove an issue since self-hosted isn’t supported by the GitHub service right now. The gang are still pondering what else will make the cut for General Availability.
While there is no word regarding the pricing of GitHub’s service (the limited beta is currently free) the move will at least deal with the confusion inherent in what were two very similar development environments. The dumping of the “Visual Studio” name will also assist with perceptions that the service is not as technology-neutral as it might be. ®
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