Cloud-powered, in-browser IDE

GitHub announces Codespaces: In-browser instant dev environment

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Vadim Sadovski

Let’s take a look at Codespaces, one of the newest announcements from Satellite 2020 and see how it will make contributing towards open source easier than ever. This new dev environment runs entirely within the browser and is powered by VS Code.

GitHub Satellite, the annual community event for open source developers, was a little different this year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, devs couldn’t congregate in person, so instead the first all-digital GitHub Satellite took place.

The event was free for all to attend and took place on May 6, 2020. For those that missed it, GitHub published a recap of all the latest news for open source developers. New announcements included GitHub Discussions, secret scanning, and additional security measures.

Let’s take a look at Codespaces, one of the newest announcements from Satellite 2020 and see how it will make contributing towards open source easier than ever.

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Codespaces: In-browser dev environment


Codespaces preview. Source.

During GitHub Sattelite the beta release of a brand new fully-featured dev environment was announced. Codepsaces allows developers to get the full Visual Studio Code experience, all without leaving GitHub.

From the Sattelite 2020 recap blog:

Codespaces can be configured to load your code and dependencies, developer tools, extensions, and dotfiles. Switching between environments is simple—you can navigate away at any time, and when you switch back, your codespace is automatically reopened.

Codespaces makes it easier than ever to get involved in contributing towards open source. You will be able to build, deploy, test, and debug all within your browser.

The GitHub Satellite announcement described Codepsaces as a way to get GitHub newcomers coding faster. It will not require any extra steps to begin contributing code and adding to a repository.

Codespaces includes a text editor with syntax highlighting and autocomplete, a terminal, debugging tools, and Git commands.

Codespace features

Codespaces is powered by VS Code technology. Out of the box, it supports Visual Studio Code extensions for added functionality.

You will be able to switch between projects easily, without cluttering up your dev environment.

With Codepsaces, your code is hosted in the cloud. It is easily accessible directly from GitHub in the browser. With cloud support, developers will be able to code from any device, no matter where they are.

Personalization features include the ability to create a dotfiles repository.

According to the documentation:

Dotfiles are files and folders on Unix-like systems starting with . that control the configuration of applications and shells on your system. You can store and manage your dotfiles in a repository on GitHub.

Changes to dotspaces applies only to new codepsaces and does not affect any existing codespace.

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How can you test it out?

Codespaces is currently in its limited beta phase; as of right now, its pricing has not been finalized. (During the limited beta release, Codepsaces is free.)

Interested developers can sign up for early access and queue up in the waitlist.

To sign up, you must check off which programming languages you use and agree to the pre-release program terms of services.

During beta, Codespaces offers limited functionality. Currently, only Linux containers are supported, a single codespace size is available, and codespaces are not fully presumably. GitHub suggests that users work in a Chromium-based browser, such as Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

Read through the documentation for additional information about GitHub’s in-browser IDE. We will keep an eye out for further developments and potential new releases.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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