iOS Web Apps Debugging Extension for Visual Studio Code

New extension allows editing of JavaScript running in a Safari browser, directly from Visual Studio Code runnning on a Windows or Mac machine. Also: UserVoice getting replaced for another feedback loop.

Evidence mounts for Visual Studio Code's maturation into a more full-fledged code editor, as it continues to expand in the area of JavaScript debugging. Early last week, the Visual Studio team offered up a new extension that enables developers to use VSC to debug iOS mobile Web apps from a Mac or Windows machine.

As the name implies, the Debugger for iOS Web extension allows for debugging JavaScript code that is running on the Safari browser that is running on an iOS device or within an iOS simulator. A blog post from Kenneth Auchenberg, a program manager with the VS DevTools & Remote Debugging group, notes that this extension has some fundamental similarities to a Google Chrome debugging extension the group released back in February.

"Under the hood, it's the same debugger running inside VS Code, which is powered by our open source vscode-chrome-debug-core library," he writes.

Auchenberg emphasizes that the extension isn't complete and is being offered up as a "public experiment." With that, it sports a limited feature set so far, including the following (which are directly from his post):

  • Setting breakpoints, including in source files when source maps are enabled
  • Stepping
  • Stack traces
  • The Locals pane
  • Debugging eval scripts, script tags, and scripts that are added dynamically
  • Watches
  • Console
  • Virtual port forwarding via HTTP tunnel from local computer.

Developers using it on a Windows machine will need to have the most recent version of iTunes installed, since the extension uses some of the iTunes libraries to establish a connection to an iOS device. Developers using it on a Mac will need to install Homebrew in order to install a DevTools proxy for connectiing to iOS devices. The Debugger for iOS Web extension is available in the Visual Studio Marketplace here.

On a side note, Visual Studio Code's feedback loop, User Voice, is getting replaced. The VSC team is directing developers, instead, to a new GitHub feature called Reactions that was introduced back in March on the repo service. The transition is immediate and the VSC team is already migrating just the top 50 User Voice requests to it, according to Wade Anderson, a VSC team member, in a blog post.

"This feature replaces the key value proposition of User Voice, which has been the ability to vote on a request," write Anderson. "It is now possible for the community to not only comment on an issue in GitHub, but also provide a thumbs up/thumbs down vote." Microsoft representatives were asked independently whether User Voice would be replaced across the board for obtaining feedback on other tools, but they haven't responded as of this posting.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.

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