How to Set Up VSCode for Remote Pair Programming

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

In this post, I’ll show you what you need to set up Visual Studio Code for remote pair programming. The goal is to not use any other app such as Slack or FaceTime for calls and messaging. The major benefits to the setup are no app switching and less RAM getting used. And if you have an Apple laptop, it won’t sound like it’s about to take off.


The Problem

As part of the Makers Academy pre-course which is remote, you’re required to pair programme. Since I’m not in London yet, I couldn’t meet any of my cohort members. Thus, I had to figure out how to make remote pair programming work for me.

Not everyone has WhatsApp, Skype, or FaceTime. Or a computer with enough RAM to keep many apps open together. But most of them are using VSCode. Using this setup has made pairing a smoother experience. When I pair with someone new, there isn’t an initial period of getting on the same page on how we’re going to make it work. Besides this, my fingers don’t feel like seekh kebabs after an hour of pairing. Especially when using an external monitor.

The Solution

I’m all for simplicity and decided there must be a better way to pair using VSCode. I can’t be the only one who faced these issues. After some research and experiments, I found the these extensions to be the solution:

Live Share

Microsoft created a great collaborative coding extension called Live Share. It’s necessary to remote pair while using VSCode. Using Live Share, you can work on the same project or file with a bunch of useful features:

  1. Live Editing
  2. Focus and Follow
  3. Group Debugging
  4. Shared Terminal

The features speak for themselves, so there’s no need to get into it. But if you want to learn more, you can here.

One thing I like is when you’re the guest, i.e. joining a live share session, you don’t need to clone and setup projects. Perfect for when you ask/are asked for help.

Live Share Audio

Live Share Audio allows you to call anyone in the Live Share session as long as they have both extensions. It’s also made by Microsoft. From my experience, it works well and the call quality has been good.

Using Live Share Audio, you no longer need to keep open Skype, Slack, FaceTime or any other app you use for calls.

Team Chat

Audio chat is great, but you may need a chat system too.

Team Chat adds a messaging system to VSCode. You can connect it with Slack, Discord and Live Share.

The main features of it are:

  • Quiet notifications: System notifications for a chat can be painful, and this extension implements a subtle unread count instead.
  • Rich formatting: Support for markdown code snippets, emojis, message reactions, and threads.
  • Native look-and-feel: Use your dark theme and grid editor layout preferences with chat.

When connecting to Slack or Discord, you can use it even when you’re not programming. Which is great for keeping an eye on a discussion while you’re working.

Conclusion

You can have a complete pair programming setup, using Live Share, Live Share Audio and Team Chat.

You can get all these extensions together by installing the VS Live Share Extension Pack.


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