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On Tuesday, Facebook mandates Visual Studio Code, the source code editor developed by Microsoft, as their default development environment. Additionally, they also stated that the company will work with Microsoft to expand the remote development extension for Visual Studio Code so that engineers can do large-scale remote development.

As per the official announcement page, Facebook engineers have written millions of lines of codes and there is no mandated development environment. Till now Facebook developers used Vim or Emacs  and the development environment was disjointed. And certain developers also used Nuclide, an integrated development environment developed by Facebook.

But in late 2018, they announced to their internal engineers that they would move Nuclide to Visual Studio Code. They have also done plenty of development work to migrate the current Nuclide functionality, along with new features to Visual Studio Code and currently it is used extensively across the company in beta.

Why Visual Studio Code?

The Visual Studio Code is a very popular development tool, with great support from Microsoft and the open source community. It runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux, and has a robust and well-defined extension API that enables to continue building the important capabilities required for the large-scale development done at Facebook. The company believes that it is a platform on which they can safely bet their development platform future.

They have also partnered with Microsoft for remote development. At present, Facebook engineers install Visual Studio Code on a local PC, but the actual development is done directly on the development server in the data center. Therefore, it aims to improve efficiency and productivity by making the code on the server accessible in a seamless and high-performance manner.

The company believes that using remote extensions will provide many benefits like:

  • Work with larger, faster, or more specialized hardware than what’s available on local machine
  • Create tailored, dedicated environments for each project’s specific dependencies, without worrying about errors due to mixed or conflicting configurations
  • Support the flexibility of being able to quickly switch between multiple running development environments without impacting local resources or tool performance

Facebook mandates Visual Studio Code as an integrated development environment which can be used internally, specifically, because Facebook uses various programming languages. It also uses Mercurial as the source control infrastructure, it will work on the development of extensions to allow direct source control operations within Visual Studio Code.

Facebook states, “VS Code is now an established part of Facebook’s development future. In teaming with Microsoft, we’re looking forward to being part of the community that helps Visual Studio Code continue to be a world class development tool.”

On Hacker News, developers are discussing various issues related to remote development extensions in VS Code, one of them is it is not open-source and Facebook should take efforts to make it an open project.

One comment reads, “Just an FYI for people – The Remote Development extensions are not open source. I’d hope if Facebook were joining efforts, they’d do so on a more open project.

1: https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/remote/faq#_why-arent-the…

2: https://github.com/microsoft/vscode/wiki/Differences-between…

3: https://github.com/VSCodium/vscodium/issues/240 (aka, on-the-wire DRM to make sure the remote components only talk to a licensed VS Code build from Microsoft)

MS edited the licensing terms many moons ago, to prepare for VS Code in browser using these remote extensions/apis that no one else can use)- https://github.com/microsoft/vscode/issues/48279

Finally, this is the thread where you will see regular users being negatively impacted by the DRM (a closed source, non-statically linked proprietary binary downloaded at runtime) that implements this proprietary-ness: https://github.com/microsoft/vscode-remote-release/issues/10… (of course, also with enough details to potentially patch around this issue if you were so inclined). Further, MS acknowledged that statically linking would help in May, and yet it appears to still be an issue.

I just hope they don’t come after Eclipse Theia…”

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Being a Senior Content Marketing Editor at Packt Publishing, I handle vast array of content in the tech space ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development. With prior experience and understanding of Marketing I aspire to grow leaps and bounds in the Content & Digital Marketing field. On the personal front I am an ambivert and love to read inspiring articles and books on life and in general.