Lightweight VS code gets heavier and heavier with the addition of the official web server extension • The Register


Microsoft has released version 1.58 of Visual Studio Code with the ability to open terminals in the editor panel and an official built-in web server extension.

VS Code is updated monthly, but this version may be larger than usual. Microsoft made some small tweaks to the Workspace Trust feature that some find intrusive, where the publisher distinguishes between approved and untrusted folders and restricts code in untrusted folders to make it safer to use.

“We think it’s important that developers can safely browse the code, even if they don’t know the source,” the team said in the release notes for version 1.58. Not much has changed, although there is a new option to turn off the Restricted Mode reminder banner, and the settings are easier to find thanks to a new link in the UI.

The VS Code terminal can now be part of the editor area and there are new commands for “Create terminal in editor area” or “Move terminal to editor area”. This then means that developers can switch between a code file and a larger terminal view, or open multiple terminals in separate panels, although this is also a bit odd because conceptually it mixes an edit space with a command space.

Visual Studio Code 1.58 with <a class=Web Server Extension and Terminal in Editor” title=”Visual Studio Code 1.58 with Web Server Extension and Terminal in Editor” height=”392″ width=”648″/>

Visual Studio Code 1.58 with Web Server Extension and Terminal in Editor

The behavior of scroll bars depends on varying points of view. VS Code 1.58 now offers a few choices, including controlling the visibility of scroll bars (separately for vertical and horizontal), width and what happens when you click: by default it jumps to that position in a file , but it can also be set for previous or next page.

Other changes include support for math in markdown files so that equations render well; control of the maximum number of search results; and transient workspaces that are not automatically reloaded. There is preview support for TypeScript 4.4. Work on Jupyter notebook support continued, with debugging enabled experimentally in notebooks and an option to use all of the features of the VS Code Editor to interact with Python code.

The new Live Preview extension

The new Live Preview extension

Changes have also been made to key extensions. One is a new proprietary extension called Live Preview, currently branded as Experimental, which provides an integrated web server with a browser built into the editor. This is for web projects “where a server isn’t already created,” the documents explain, so it’s not suitable for React or Angular projects, and it won’t run PHP, Java, or ASP.NET.

The extension is quite capable of running JavaScript, rendering CSS, etc. The preview updates as you type. It is also possible to open web pages in an external browser, with the same auto-refresh characteristics. A detailed option allows developers to view server traffic. While the web preview looks useful, the idea isn’t new and there is a Live Server extension from Ritwick Dey with over 13 million installs, according to statistics from VS Code. The implication, perhaps, is that the functionality is too important to be left to a third party.

As new features pour into VS Code, the idea that it is a lightweight editor is likely to be left behind, with the provision of an official embedded web server being the latest example. On the other hand, it is an extension and does not need to be installed. But that reflects the utility’s enormous popularity and the pressure on the team to do everything right. ®

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