back to article Fancy renting your developer environment? Visual Studio goes online

Microsoft is offering cloud-hosted developer environments for those using Visual Studio Code or, in private preview, Visual Studio. Microsoft introduced something called Visual Studio Online back in 2013, which in 2015 became Visual Studio Team Services and then Azure DevOps, which appears to be steady again after Monday's …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    You need an Azure billing account to connect to your own environment.

    Now that they're transitioning their own software to a subscription model, this does sound an awful lot like a cunning wheeze by Microsoft whereby you give them your software and have to rent it back.

    Whilst I get the "vision" of software being a sort of cloudy, evolving technosphere where you simply need to deploy a small amount of your own code to orchestrate the existing components in a way that solves your specific problem, I can't see how it's ever going to be practically achievable. It's a security nightmare in the widest sense - you're sharing your hardware, your code and your credit card with a third party (or multiple parties) and don't have any cast-iron assurance that you will ever get anything back, except possibly an extremely large bill. I could understand it if computers were inherently expensive to own and operate and you achieve the same outcome cheaper with a cloud-backed dumb terminal, but any machine capable of supporting this complex hybrid model is within striking distance of supporting the full development environment.

    We already have Apple casting developers from the garden on a whim: it's only a matter of time before you need the permission of some large corporation to write any sort of code at all.

    1. boltar Silver badge

      The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

      Sadly all the kool kids and hipsters (and many pointy heads) think its cutting edge and the future, completely oblivious that this sort of vendor and enviroment lock-in is exactly why people ran screaming to the hills from this model in the 70s and 80s and unix and then the PC revolution kicked off.

      Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it etc etc.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

        Spot on.

        It appears that this is going to be another one of those cyclic things. The newest generations weren't around when the shift to personal computers happened, so they didn't experience what a total game-changer it was to no longer have to rely on central servers. So, they want to move back to central servers.

        Eventually, the obvious (to those of us who remember) downsides to that will bite them, and the new hotness will be to shift back toward local computing. When that happens, everyone will think of it as new, radical, and innovative.

        1. DCFusor Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

          Could that be one source of the age-ism in tech (or at least big tech)?

          How can they keep charging for turning the wheel back to the same old place, when those of us who were _there_ keep spoiling the marketing narrative?

      2. fobobob

        Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

        And it doesn't even have any fun blinkenlights...

      3. Tromos

        Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

        Exactly right. Also, in those days, the mainframe people were quite disparaging as the personal computers then were hundreds or even thousands of times slower than the top mainframes of the era.

        What they failed to take into consideration was the length of time it took the operators of the wonder machines to deign to notice your card deck in the input pigeonholes and feed it through the card reader.

        Then a wait while a request for a data tape is flashing on the system console. The tape monkey is usually making tea for the entire operations shift, so sometime after tea your job gets to execute. At lightning speed it finishes and then you only have to wait until someone takes a huge stack of fanfold paper off the back of the printer, separates it into the individual job outputs and places yours in the output pigeonhole.

        Meanwhile, your colleague with the new, but ever so slow PC, has corrected the error that also caused your program to crash, started his second run and is enjoying his coffee while the PC chugs away merrily with results expected about the same time as you finish punching the replacement cards to submit your second attempt.

        The freedom people felt in the early 70's with just a 4.77MHz 8086 with a few hundred kilobytes of RAM and, if you were lucky, a 10Mb hard disk, was just amazing. About the only people who stuck with the mainframes were the ones needing extremely large volumes of data/number-crunching/printed output. Even those were increasingly sorted by larger disks, maths coprocessors and laser printers over the next decade.

        I can't see those that tasted that freedom going back to relying ever again on someone else's hardware.

        1. Boy Quiet

          Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

          The “trouble” comes in several forms.

          From the built in obsolescence of my phone where apps I’m using cease to work, to no further security patches for my os (Windows 7 I’m looking at you) to no patches for the compiler and it’s library.

          Even writing code in “lowest level” C there is some dependence on Libraries and don’t even start me on Java.

          And our young aspirational coders need these “cloud” credentials on their CVs to even get an interview.

          I believe Aurther C Clark said that when we no longer know how something works we will start believing it’s magic. Sigh!

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

            "Even writing code in “lowest level” C there is some dependence on Libraries"

            This isn't even close to being true. Libraries are a convenience and are in no way mandatory. I often write C code that doesn't use libraries for embedded projects.

            1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

              Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

              I prefer to write my own libraries FROM SCRATCH covering everything from CUSTOM internet IP4/IP6 stack, our own IPV8 comms stack and and every low-level graphics filter, special effect and still image/video processing algorithms under the sun! I even do custom SQL engines and disk drive sector-level database formats optimized for SSD wear leveling, spinning disk head positioning of most likely used data and other optimizations.

              I utterly will not do .NET or Direct-X when my library does it sooooo much better

              My own command to play a video file:

              Play_Video( Name_Of_Video_File,

              Left_Coordinate,

              Top_Coordinate,

              Width,

              Height,

              Video_Frame_Rate,

              Audio_Sample_Rate )

              That's it! Easy as pie! All the low level stuff is automatically taken care of by my own internal code!

              .

            2. Boy Quiet

              Re: The Cloud is just a 1960s mainframe model for the 21st century

              I agree you can write code that apparently does not use a library buts it’s challenging.

              I wrote my own PLAN compiler back in the day and even then some instructions were “ interpreted” by the exec.

              Also there is an interesting article ( the reference escapes me at the moment) that showed how to permanently and undetectably hack a ‘c’ compiler.

              To see what code you actually have, one needs to decompile the exec to its machine code. Well good luck with that on any large project.

  2. svenefftinge

    Gitpod and VSO

    More differences between Gitpod and Visual Studio Online can be found here:

    https://www.gitpod.io/blog/visual-studio-online-vs-gitpod/

  3. TheVogon Silver badge

    Here, Git Pod refers to the up-rated cubes than management types reside in.

  4. JohnFen Silver badge

    Not for me

    I'm not willing to put up with the uncertainty involved in relying on the cloud for recreational things. I'm certainly not going to risk it for things that I rely on to make a living.

    1. dnicholas Bronze badge

      Re: Not for me

      Hear, hear

      Not there, where!?

  5. SVV Silver badge

    Fancy renting your development environment?

    A Microsoft developer and his money are easily parted.

    1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      Re: Fancy renting your development environment?

      Wasn't Snidely Whiplash always trying to collect the rent from Nell?

  6. knarf

    Bet it doesn't have Resharper on it

    Unless it offers 32 cores and 64Gb of memory.

  7. steviebuk Silver badge

    Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud....oh fuck off

    Getting sick of the push to cloud. Was in the local garage the other day for MOT and noticed their reception PC with all our details in a database is still on XP (I saw the old skool database as I asked them to change my address as they had it down wrong). All fine if not on the Internet. And it's a small garage. I bet they've paid for the setup once and that's it, no other bills after. But if you got a slimy consultant to go to that place, they'd try to sell them the idea of "the cloud" and gloss over the fact of the bills. The fact if they moved that setup to "the cloud" they'd now be forced into a yearly Office 365 subscription, forced to have a dedicated Internet connection, then potentially have issue when their Internet connection goes down. So the "cloud" in this case would actually cost them more than their current setup.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud....oh fuck off

      I think if they're doing MoTs the DVLA will require them to be online.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud....oh fuck off

        Yeah but I hope they have a separate machine for that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud....oh fuck off

      That's all fantastic until the hard drive in that XP machine inevitably dies, they lose all their data, and potentially go out of business.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking from experience, I can attest that Eclipse is better without cloud.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Eclipse Theia shares little with the classic Eclipse IDE apart from the first word.

      This is the new fantastic thing which megacorps have put developer hours into under the Eclipse name while letting Eclipse C++ rot.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Interesting. Thanks for the warning! I hadn't heard of Eclipse Theia until now, but it doesn't look like it would be something of use to me. I'll just stick with regular old Eclipse.

  9. cageordie

    My company PC developers might, but I'll just stop updating

    I am fine with Visual Studio 2017. I only use it for prototyping algorithms anyway. My company is vast enough that there are probably IT types who will go for this, but on engineering programs I'll use Linux if I need a PC hosted tool. I mostly develop for embedded operating systems, but I don't rent anything.

  10. Mike 137 Bronze badge

    "The key question is how to configure the remote environment."

    The key question is really whether you really want to [a] potentially share your IP with an interested third party (surprisingly Microsoft write code too); [b] rely on an online service being constantly available; [c] pay out for ever for the right to use the tools, with the chance of losing all your work if something like TSB happens at the wrong moment.

    Qui bono? Quite clearly only Microsoft.

  11. schifreen

    Why?

    Just, why? I guess it's all part of Microsoft's plans to make everything even more complicated and unreliable, for no good reason.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Because Microsoft's new model is rent-seeking. They don't want to sell software, they want to rent it, because over time they'll be able to get a lot more money out of their customers that way.

  12. MarkSitkowski

    Helpful Suggestion

    Universities should teach young hopefuls how to type

    cc -o thing thing.c

    Then how to type

    ci thing.c

    There. That was easy, wasn't it? Now that you can do that, you don't need a silly old cloud...

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