GitHub Previews Faster Codespaces Creation with Prebuilds

GitHub announced a public beta of Codespaces prebuilds to speed up the creation of the cloud-hosted Visual Studio Code-based development environments.

Those VS Code environments served up via virtual machines (VMs) proved to be so successful after a May 2020 debut that the Microsoft-owned GitHub ditched its local macOS development model in favor of Codespaces.

The company this week announced the public beta of prebuilds to take care of all the manual set-up details needed before a coder can start coding. That includes things like cloning a repo, perhaps building a custom Dockerfile, installing project dependencies and editor extensions, initializing scripts, and more, GitHub said in a Feb. 23 blog post. All of that bootstrapping can take a lot longer in big repos with complex configurations.

Prebuild Templates
[Click on image for larger view.] Prebuild Templates (source: GitHub).

GitHub's developers used prebuilds to significantly speed up their bootstrapping work and subsequently decided to share the functionality with users.

"A prebuilt codespace will serve as a 'ready-to-go' template where your source code, editor extensions, project dependencies, commands, and configurations have already been downloaded, installed, and applied so that you don't have to wait for these tasks to finish each time you create a new codespace," said GitHub's Tanmayee Kamath in yesterday's announcement.

The public beta program follows a private preview that provided feedback for the public offering, which Kamath said now provides:

  • You can now identify and quickly get started with a fast create experience by selecting machine types that have a "prebuild ready" tag.
    Prebuild Templates
    [Click on image for larger view.] Prebuild Templates (source: GitHub).
  • A seamless configuration experience helps repository admins easily set up and manage prebuild configurations for different branches and regions.
  • To reduce the burden on repository admins around managing Action version updates for each prebuilt branch, we introduced support for GitHub Actions workflows that will be managed by the Codespaces service.
  • Prebuild configurations are now built on GitHub Actions virtual machines. This enables faster prebuild template creations for each push made to your repository, and also provides repository admins with access to a rich set of logs to help with efficient debugging in case failures occur.

To take part in the public beta, organizations must be enlisted in GitHub Enterprise Cloud or Team plans. More information can be found in the blog post linked above, documentation and discussion.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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