Microsoft Puts VS Code Text Editor Tech into Azure Cloud Shell Command-Line Tool

Microsoft boosted the text editing capabilities of its Azure Cloud Shell command-line interface (CLI) tool with the addition of graphical Visual Studio Code editor technology.

Specifically, the shell's new text editor -- introduced as a preview -- is based on the open source Monaco project -- based on HTML/CSS/JavaScript Web standards -- that powers VS Code's file-editing functionality.

Previously, the interactive, browser-accessible Azure Cloud Shell let users work with Azure cloud resources via Bash or PowerShell CLIs and allowed for file editing with bare-bones, terminal-based editors like vi, emacs and nano. The new Web-based option was added to address scenarios such as complicated configurations, editing JSON, using Terraform or using other open source tools integrated into the shell.

"As we looked at the ways that people are using Cloud Shell, we realized early on that providing our users with easy-to-use choices for managing their cloud infrastructure via the Web browser was critical to success," said Brendan Burns distinguished engineer, Microsoft Azure, in a post this week.

As demonstrated in a video on the post, the new functionality lets developers seamlessly transition in and out of file editing into deployment. For the file editing part, functionality will be quite familiar to VS Code developers.

"The Monaco code editor brings features like syntax coloring, auto completion and code snippets," Burns said. "The new Cloud Shell integration includes a file explorer to easily navigate the Cloud Shell file system for seamless file exploration. This enables a rich editing workflow by simply typing 'code .' to open the editor's file explorer from any Cloud Shell Web-based experience."

After typing in that "code ." command to open the editor, developers will be able to edit and save Cloud Shell files, access the familiar VS Code command palette and deploy file changes instantly.

In the accompanying video, Microsoft's Scott Hanselman and Justin Luk noted that the editing functionality will be limited in Azure Cloud Shell, as it's not designed for creating full-fledged applications.

"We're not looking to provide this end-to-end full feature-rich editor that you're able to get through VS Code," Luk said, "but we do want to provide a strong utility just like cloud shell and the terminal. We're not looking to replace your local terminal or command line. We want to just enable a strong simple utility that can be accessed from any browser. And so this is the next step for us, to make sure that your file editing is super easy from any browser, but not a full-fledged area where you might do your day-to-day coding."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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