Visual Studio Code comes to Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi

Community build project packages Microsoft's open source editor for Linuxes and Chrome OS on ARM hardware

A community build project led by developer Jay Rodgers is making Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s lightweight source code editor, available for Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi boards, and other devices based on 32-bit or 64-bit ARM processors.

Supporting Linux and Chrome OS as well as the DEB (Debian) and RPM package formats, the automated builds of Visual Studio Code are intended for less-common platforms that might not otherwise receive them. Obvious beneficiaries will be IoT developers focused on ARM devices—and the Raspberry Pi in particular—who will find it helpful to have the editor directly on the device they’re programming against. 

Visual Studio Code extensions should work with the builds. “The rule of thumb is that unless the extensions are using native components, and those native components do not support ARM, they should work just as they do elsewhere,” Rodgers said. These extensions support capabilities ranging from debugging to languages and template generation.

Rodgers originally released this project late last year but has since rewritten it from the ground up to make the build process less sensitive to changes on the Microsoft side. He also added ARM64/ARMv8 packages for the first time. The project has focused on cross-compiling using a tool chain to compile from the standard x86 build system to ARM targets, offering greater speed.

Supporting capabilities including task running and version control, Visual Studio Code supports development in JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js. Other languages are supported by extensions including C#, Python, and Go. Microsoft’s goal behind Visual Studio Code has been to enable a fast coding, debugging, and build cycle, while deferring more complex workflows to IDEs with more features. Rodgers said the lure of Visual Studio Code for him was its user-friendly interface, making it approachable for new users.

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