Jul 26, 2019

Amazon finally releases an AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code, playing catch-up to Microsoft and Google

Amazon made its AWS Toolkit extension generally available last week to help developers more easily build against AWS cloud services with Visual Studio Code. The extension helps developers test code locally in a Lambda-like environment, deploy applications to AWS, and invoke Lambda functions locally or remotely. To use the new toolkit, developers will also need to install the AWS CLI, AWS Serverless Application Model CLI, and Docker, in addition to the AWS Toolkit extension from the Visual Studio Code Marketplace.

Most surprising about Amazon’s announcement is that the cloud provider does not have AWS toolkit extensions for any other code editor or IDE (aside from Microsoft’s other wildly popular IDE, Visual Studio). Google, too, which only recently released its Cloud Code extension to assist developers in building cloud-native Kubernetes applications, does not have a cloud extension for any other major editor or IDE. The AWS toolkit has racked up more than 26k installs, while Cloud Code has only 13k installs despite being generally available for several months longer. Even so, one result is clear: Visual Studio Code is quickly becoming the most popular editor for cloud development, according to both users and cloud providers.

Microsoft has released a few extensions over the past few years that are working to more tightly connect code editors to cloud environments. Microsoft’s Docker and Kubernetes extensions connect to a number of cloud providers (Azure, AWS, GCP, and more). Azure Functions is an extension that helps deploy Azure functions from VS Code. Microsoft even built a set of remote development extensions that seamlessly connect VS Code to cloud environments. Other Microsoft extensions make it easy to develop with Terraform on Azure, Azure Pipelines, Azure Data Lakes, and Azure Blockchain—just to name a few.

The battle for cloud supremacy is being waged on—of all places—local machines and editors. The release of extensions from GCP and AWS indicate that both Google and Amazon give credence to this new local-first strategy, but it remains to be seen if Microsoft’s head start will materialize into greater developer interest.

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