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Jonathan Carter
Jonathan Carter

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Fun Things You Can Do With github.dev 😎

GitHub recently released github.dev, which allows you to press . on any repo in order to open it in VS Code, directly from your browser (🤯). This simple gesture can provide you with a significant productivity boost for reading, editing, and sharing code on GitHub. Including from an iPad!

Note: In addition to the . key, you can also change “.com” to “.dev” in your URL bar, in order to achieve the same effect 👍

Since github.dev is based on VS Code, you can customize your keybindings, color theme, file icons, snippets, and more. Even cooler, you can enable settings sync and roam your personalizations between VS Code, github.dev and Codespaces. That way, no matter where you're reading/editing code, you'll immediately feel at home 💖

However, what might not be immediately obvious, is that github.dev enables something even more compelling: the opportunity to customize and create entirely new GitHub-native workflows. Instead of relying on browser extensions or 3rd party services to augment github.com, you can simply take advantage of the editor you already love, along with its prolific ecosystem, to enhance GitHub directly. To illustrate what I mean, let's take a look at 10 examples of what Github.dev makes possible today 🚀

1. ✉️ Sharing Deep Links

In addition to pressing . from a repo page, you can also press . when viewing a specific file on GitHub.com. Furthermore, if you select some text in the currently opened file, and press ., then when VS Code is opened, it will focus that file and highlight the same text selection. You can then copy the URL in your browser, and send that to others, in order to share that exact same context. This simple capability has the potential to enable new and interesting ways to communicate about code 🔥

Demo: Click this link to see how the GitDoc extension subscribes to repo events in VS Code.

2. ✅ Pull Request Reviews

In addition to hitting . on a repo or file on github.com, you can also press it when viewing a pull request. This enables you to review the PR using a rich, multi-file view, that includes the ability to view & reply to comments, suggest changes, and even approve/merge the PR directly from the editor. This has to potential to reduce “superficial reviews”, by giving developers better tools, without needing to clone or switch branches 🙅‍♂️

Demo: Click this link to review the PR for adding a regex parser to the CodeTour extension.

3. 📊 Editing Images + Diagrams

Beyond editing text files, VS Code also allows extensions to contribute custom editors, which enables you to edit any file type in your project. For example, if you install the Drawio extension, you can view and edit rich diagrams.

Additionally, if you install the Luna Paint extension you can edit images (PNG, JPG, etc.).

In each case, your edits are automatically saved, and you can commit/push changee back to your GitHub repo via the Source Control tab. Even cooler, you can share a deep link for an image/diagram with others, and as long as they install neccessary extension(s), they'll be able to collaborate with you via the exact same experience. This effectively makes github.dev a hackable "canvas" for any file type that is stored in GitHub 😎

4. 🗺 Codebase Walkthroughs

Learning a new codebase is hard, since it's typically unclear where to start, or how various files/folders relate to each other. With github.dev, you can install the CodeTour extension, which allows you to create and playback guided walkthroughs of a codebase. Since github.dev is available entirely in the browser, this makes it easy for anyone on the team, or in your community, to get up to speed quickly, without needing to install anything locally.

Demo: Open this repo and install CodeTour. You'll be presented with a toast that asks if you'd like to take the Getting Started tour.

5. 📕 Code Snippets + Gists

Gists are a popular way for developers to manage and share code snippets, config files, notes, and more. In github.dev, you can install the GistPad extension and view/edit your gists. This allows you to maintain code snippets across multiple repos, and access them from both your desktop editor, as well as whenever you're browsing/editing code on GitHub.

6. 🎢 Web Playgrounds + Tutorials

Coding playgrounds (e.g. CodePen, JSFiddle) are a popular way to learn programming languages/libraries, and then share them with others. With github.dev, you can install the CodeSwing extension and begin creating web playgrounds, using your existing editor setup, and with your files persisted back to GitHub.

Demo: Open this repo and install CodeSwing + CodeTour. After a few seconds, you'll be presented with the playground environment.

7. ✏️ Notetaking + Knowledge Bases

VS Code is a world-class markdown editor, and therefore, you can start using github.dev to edit and preview all of your personal notes/documentation. Even cooler, you can install the WikiLens extension in order to get a Roam/Obsidian-like editing experience, for maintaining a knowledge base, that's stored in GitHub and is able to benefit from the ecosystem of extensions/personalizations for VS Code.

8. 📽 Presentations

Once you get used to using github.dev for markdown-based note taking, you’ll inevitably want to author other document types using markdown, since the experience is so simple and elegant. If you install the Marp extension, you can begin creating slide decks using nothing but markdown, and present them directly from your browser. I’ve begun using this workflow, and when coupled with GistPad (for storing presentations as gists), it’s the most amazing way to drive conversations/meetings 🥰

9. 📓 Jupyter Notebooks

In addition to coding playgrounds, another popular way to learn and share code, is via Jupyter notebooks. If you open an .ipynb file in github.dev, you can immediately view the cells and cached outputs of the notebook. Even better, you can install the Pyodide extension in order to actually run Python code, entirely in your browser!

10. 🛠 Creating Your Own Extension!

As you probably noticed, most of the items above were enabled by means of an extension, that someone created and published to the marketplace. Since VS Code is fully extensible, using simple JavaScript APIs, you can create your own extensions that support not only VS Code desktop, but also, github.dev. So if you have an awesome idea, for how to make coding on GitHub more productive and fun, then you now have everything you need to get started 🏃

🔮 Looking Forward

While there’s already a ton of use cases for GitHub.dev, it’s still early days, and so this is a space worth watching, as the ecosystem continues to innovate. In particular, I’m excited to see real-time collaboration, and classroom assignments become fully supported, 💯 in the browser. Exciting times 🙌

Discussion (24)

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yinon profile image
Yinon Oved

if CodeSwing would have access to the repo it's opened in, it would be a game changer for private/internal repos. internal / private repos often lack the possibility to present some code and output quickly

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lostintangent profile image
Jonathan Carter Author

It does! When you open a repo in GitHub.dev, it has access to private repos. And CodeSwing simply operates on the files within the workspace, and so would work perfectly in that mode as well 👍

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yinon profile image
Yinon Oved

that's great, is there any chance github.dev would allow terminal or installation of dependencies? that kind of go hand in hand

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mananchawla2005 profile image
Manan Chawla

For that u have codespaces :)

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yinon profile image
Yinon Oved

Yeap. Waiting for access 😁

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mananchawla2005 profile image
Manan Chawla

yea u would like it!! It has become a part of my life now lol. It so awesome and so well integrated. I just hope we continue to have its free access as individuals. or atleast pro members.

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periurium profile image
Tristan

I never knew this was even a thing!

Seeing this now is crazy, I was hosting my own Code-server instance for a while but seeing this now might have me change that a bit. Thank you for sharing!

Also these additions make this seem absolutely amazing

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nosthrillz profile image
Ilie Bogdan

Awesome! Thanks for collecting these

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adriangoe profile image
Adrian Görisch

The most interetsing thing i saw was running jetbrains IDEs with porjector over codespace.
twitter.com/maartenballiauw/status...

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creayt profile image
David M.

Amazing article! Thanks so much

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tanwi2209 profile image
Tanwi Kumari • Edited

if i am selecting some text in the currently php language opened file, and press ., then when VS Code is opened, it is not focus that file and don't highlight the same text selection.
why??
this is not supporting all languages?

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mosenturm profile image
Andreas Kaiser

Great article! Thanks!

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casperbraske profile image
Luis

Now this is huge! Great article.

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mselyserobinson profile image
Elyse Y. Robinson

Didn't even know this existed. Thanks!

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lucis profile image
Lucis

Very nice article!

(Just letting you know that there's a typo in the CodeTour link)

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lostintangent profile image
Jonathan Carter Author

Fixed! Thanks so much for the heads up 👍

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yonicalsin profile image
Yony Calsin

Impressive ! Thanks 👏 🎉

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aspiiire profile image
Aspiiire

WOW

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Artyom Titov

Don't forget to mention that it's now easier than ever to work on the go with a tablet!

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lostintangent profile image
Jonathan Carter Author

Good point! I added a quick mention of that to the intro paragraph 👍

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ashkanmohammadi profile image
Amohammadi2

WTF man! That's incredibly awesome

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Aditya Kumar

Greatly elaborated 🔥

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Karelle Hofler

OMG that's amazing! Thanks for the amazing article

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gopkumr profile image
gopkumr

Awesome... It feels unreal, especially editing on the fly from a tablet, it's is so exciting.
Is so true that the best is yet to come.