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run vscode in browser in a single command

Tobias Nickel
German Software Engineer in Shanghai, blogging on what I think is HOT!! It has to be unique and relevant.
Originally published at ・Updated on ・2 min read

run vscode in your browser with single command

Browser and cloud based IDEs are really cool, hey let you work right where you are home, on the internet. However I would like to have one, that we can install via npm and open the browser. There are some projects, but they are either out of date, use Java or PHP backends. But we all know, vscode is build using html, css and js. Or run at some cloud providers server. There is the theia, but the dependencies are so much, that they advise to run it with docker. But these solutions are to heavy when installing them on a raspberry Pi or a small server virtual machine.

Recently, found that you can run vscode in your browser by cloning the original repository and run just a few commands:

git clone
cd vscode
yarn install
yarn run compile
yarn run web
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With some experimenting and exploring the code base, it was possible to let the web app not only access a memory file system but a http filesystem, that I implemented using express.js.

With some more work, I have put all the static files the website needs into a static directory, to be served without any extra compilation steps.

Now I have been able to run a simple express app, that serves vscode, and allow to create, edit, move and rename files online.

This tool is now public available to you. You can run:

   npm install -g teditor && teditor
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and open vscode in your browser. It might take a moment as it loads around 1400 files. but then you should see, that vscode has opened your current directory. This app currently does not support all the features of vscode, but editing files is already very convenient. when running in background some nodemon or webpack that is watching the files, developing can be a smooth experience.

teditor presentation

However many features of vscode could still be supported:

  • using the terminal, for that we could provide a web socket APi. using this, the user could use vscode as complete IDE.
  • search in vscode. vscode has the nice UI for find and replace across files. (find and replace in a single file already works good)
  • support for vscode tasks.json, that would allow the user to execute some commands on the server with a few clicks.
  • support installing plugins, for snippets.
  • add support for typescript

The editor could be improved overall.

  • currently the public directory serves 1400 files to run vscode. these files can be merged.
  • now a manual process to update vscode itself is a manual process, we can find a way to merge updates from vscode into this project, as vscode keeps improving.

How do you like this idea? is it worth extending this weekend project? just as a side project, I might not be able to do it on my own.

please leave a comment or open an issue on github

Discussion (29)

mzaini30 profile image

I try to run teditor in Android. Hehehehe...


bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

wow, I over the menu View->appearance -> hide side bar, the file browser can hide. maybe this should get a button on the left.

maybe mobilr is a unique direction this project can move to. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

mr0cket profile image
Milo Silva • Edited

vsCode for your phone would be incredible! Especially as a web-App you can host & serve locally, or over WAN!
I think you could even make it into a vsCode extension

negue profile image
negue • Edited

It is a nice project :), on a first view of the repo, I saw that the vscode public files are all pushed to the repo

would it be possible to build the public folder by using the vscode / vscodium repo/git instead?

that way it would be always up to date

but otherwise nice project and proof of concept that it's possible :)

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

yes, in vscodium they do just that. they have the script that is pulling the latest vscode.

However I have updated one file within this public directory. It could be possible to inject that via a script.

spiritbro1 profile image

its kinda like coder i think

zilti profile image
Daniel Ziltener

...but why

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

because, because,....

first time I wanted something like this, was when playing with the raspberry pi. for Arduino they have the Arduino Web IDE. but it is kind of limited and require some account on their cloud. this one can run everywhere where node.js run, such as also the 'onion omega', that you can get for about 10$.

On the other side, i think cloud IDE provider, such as cloud9 or Visual Studio Codespaces, also make a compelling point. setting up a cloud ide you can provide the equal development environment for your developer. not setting up the local machines anyhow and some engineer all of a sudden adds a new plugin to his editor that auto re format all the code and other problems that can be avoided.

the point for this module should be the 'one command setup'. for different use cases different distributions of the editor are thinkable.

As for now, this project is only a prove of concept, and also only a distribution of the fantastic vscode.

I would hope, there are more apps directly install able from npm. As I really like the json-server

Is that something for you? how does your workflow looks like?

zilti profile image
Daniel Ziltener

Still, I don't see the use case...

some engineer all of a sudden adds a new plugin to his editor that auto re format all the code

Stuff like this doesn't happen anymore, most plugin writers out there understood that this is stupid for this exact reason. If anything you have to intentionally reformat files. But usually you decide on a way to format the code in your team, if you don't use a language with a defacto standard to begin with.

the point for this module should be the 'one command setup'.

Not every developer will want to use the same editor. I have my Spacemacs config. Linking that from my syncthing folder and cloning the spacemacs distribution is a matter of half a minute and I am ready to go.
It worries me how everything is getting stuffed into the cloud "just because".

Thread Thread
bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

right, there is no one size fits all. This kind of module can help to move your code from a 'lock in' cloud into an environment where you have more control.

The browser can help you instantly to do collaboration in a more direct way then via git. (not replacing git)

thanks for this discussion, I am sure, this project will never completely be able to replace local dev environments.

rahulahire profile image
Rahul Ahire

Great concept but just had a little doubt that Why all the extensions and theme aren't loading here?

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

because the files are not in this projects public directory. this public directory only contains what the browser loaded, when starting vs code from its own repo. (the commands above in this article) opening in that process more themes and more extensions would add them to this projects public directory.

so, I think we can add more or even all extensions. That process can definitely get improved. It was not part of this initial proof of concept.

thanks for your question. 😁

rahulahire profile image
Rahul Ahire

I really wish that this project may explode in future with continuous progress matching it to native vscode...

seanmclem profile image

It might simplify things. Code-server has been working great for me but wasn't as easy as this to set up

metageness profile image

tell me about it, I tried a lot times to set up code-server on aws / azure and its keep failed accesing code-server.

amermelao profile image

Ice cold!

maxloh profile image

What is the difference between this project and coder/code-server?

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

actually, I didn't know code-server before all the comments.

This project is also not clear positioned jet. Personally I wanted it for my raspberry and personal website. It was like two years ago, that I published a first version of teditor, at that time without vscode, but code-mirror.
I was trying before, to run vscode in the browser but failed, now I found that solution.

Now I want to add more functionality, such as search and support the terminal via web-socket.
Each feature should be very clear defined. and documented, to allow others to build there own solution. different scenarios require different configurations, such as in a server, in IOT, education, showcase or sandboxes.

vscode is a very good IDE (thank you @microsoft) it is possible to run it with some modifications online. But these modifications are not obvious to make.

Hopefully, people can be encouraged to build new cool tools for collaboration and software engineering and vscode can be a very powerful base.

ejiwen profile image
Cheikhany Ejiwen

It's very helpful to find our code editor side by side with
our tabs while we searching for code solutions on Stackoverflow.

It is a nice project :)

rhamdeew profile image

Thanks for a nice project!)

There's also this option -

nalexcastaneda profile image
Nestor Alexander

This is exactly what I was wondering yesterday and I was about to see if it was possible to run VS Code on the browser

ali profile image
haider ali

It's really great and helpful , but I wonder if the keyboard shortcuts will work on chrome or the vscode editor ، like Ctrl+d for example

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

ctrl+s was working or F2 for rename was working. I found there are different files for key bindings in the source. and Mac or windows, each only load their own.

so far I didn't tested with Linux desktop.

charlklein profile image
Charl Klein

Have a look at Eclipse Theia ;)

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

it definitely has the focus on cloud setups, that is what I meaned to have so many dependencies. to be best run in docker.

as a big fan of the Js ecosystem, I like here the installation via npm. currently I think, I can not make teditor rich in feature as Eclipse Theia.

cdsaenz profile image
Charly S.

Excellent. Wondering if this could be deployed in my hosting/VPS debian dev server where I store all my demo code. That would be great.

bias profile image
Tobias Nickel Author

the server side is a simple express.js app. It should run anywhere with node.js.
in the code I use async functions now, so a node version above 7.6 is needed.

When running it public, a middle-ware for authentication should be added should be added. The json-server has a cool approach for allowing some plugins via middleware, but I am not sure now how it would fit into this app.

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