Announced a few weeks ago, Visual Studio Online provides cloud-powered development environments accessible from anywhere. If you are not familiar with Visual Studio Online, check out the launch blog post first as this post assumes you know the basics - Announcing Visual Studio Online Public Preview.

While there's lots of great official documentation available at Visual Studio Online Documentation, here are some things you maybe didn't know you could do with the service.

Deep linking

It's possible to define a deep link that when opened, will take the user to the environment creation pane with values pre-filled in. This is perfect for adding a badge to your project's README on GitHub or sharing with others to help them get started with your project quicker.

The current format to create your own deep link is quite simple.

https://online.visualstudio.com/environments/new?name=NAME&repo=REPO_URL

NAME is the name you want the new environment to have and REPO_URL is the url to the repo that'll be cloned into the new environment.

For example, https://online.visualstudio.com/environments/new?name=Convey&repo=derekbekoe/convey

Even better, we can create a badge and add this to our repo.

Open multiple windows from the terminal

This one is simple yet useful. Use code . to open another window into the same environment. This is the same as what you'd expect when running VS Code locally.

Port Forwarding

With the Port Forwarding feature of VS Online, it's easy to see your apps running in the browser and hot-reloading works as you'd expect.

Did you know you can get this same hot-reloading on multiple other physical devices like a mobile device though?

When building responsive web applications, you want to ensure it works well on multiple physical devices, not just the "Developer Tools..." device emulators available in browsers. With VS Online, this is as easy as copying the url to your physical devices and logging in.

BONUS: Bridging the gap

Sometimes, you need to use your local machine in combination with an online environment. I have developed Convey for this reason. Convey is a command-line tool that makes it easy to pipe between machines.

Here is a video of combining Visual Studio Online with Convey to bridge the gap between the online environment and the local machine. See the tweet below for more information on Convey or check out https://convey.sh.