Test driving the newly announced Visual Studio Online


This week Ignite kicked off with a series of announcements (as always). One of those was “Visual Studio Online“…


In my eagerness I wanted to test drive it and check out what the developer experience would be, and if it could replace my development station in Azure.  So let’s delve into it shall we?

Test Drive in 3 … 2 … 1 … GO!

After having click on the “Getting Started”, we’ll be shown the following ;

After “Sign in”, you land in the “Visual Studio Online” landing page. Where it will start by creating a plan (which links to your Azure Subscription for billing) and an environment. So let’s click on “Create environment” ;

First we’ll create the plan…

Followed by our first environment ;

Which will show up in our landing page ;

One thing to realize is that an environment is basically linked to a specific repository. As I wanted to test out different code bases, I ended up with several environments ;


Click on the name of the environment, and you’ll land up in a “machine” ;

It’ll give you the typical VS Code look & feel. One thing to immediately notice is that the interface is -very- responsive!

Port Forwarding!

I’m very curious to find out if I could run a local debugging server (like a nodejs server or azure functions runtime). So let’s run “npm run dev” to start our dev server ;

You can see the url in the terminal, and if you click on it, you’ll be taken to a redirect page ;

Which shows the webapp!

Now let’s try the same for our functions. As you can see, the local functions run time was not installed. So I’ve installed it…

Next up, start the func runtime ;

It starts up, and shows us an HTTP endpoint ;

Which works nicely after the redirect! 😉



Now let’s suspend our machines. Click on the three points, and then on “Suspend”;

In a few seconds, you’ll see that the machine shows as “Suspended” ;

Once we want to open up VS Code again, then the environment starts booting again ;

And it’s good to see that the Azure functions runtime is still present. So the environment is persistent!

(Sidenote : I made mistake in the name of the “frontend v2” environment, this should have been the “backend v2” one… Oops!) 🙂



When checking my Azure subscription, we can see that there is a placeholder resource in the location we chose during the set up of our plan ;


Closing Thoughts

As you noticed I manually installed the func runtime. You could also customize your environment by adding a folder to your repository. If you do not want to pollute your repo, then you can also do it manually as we did earlier in this post. Next to that, it’s important to know that each environment is linked to a repository. Where your current way of working is probably more switching between workspaces. In regards to performance, I was pleasantly surprised to see how responsive it was! Though will I replace my dev workstation by VS Online? It is VS Code, where my dev workstation is running Visual Studio 2019. So for me it’s not a full replacement, but I do see the value for a lot of people!

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