Quickstart: Debug and iterate on Kubernetes: Visual Studio Code and .NET Core - Azure Dev Spaces

In this guide, you will learn how to:

  • Set up Azure Dev Spaces with a managed Kubernetes cluster in Azure.
  • Iteratively develop code in containers using Visual Studio Code.
  • Debug the code in your dev space from Visual Studio Code.

Azure Dev Spaces also allows you to debug and iterate using:


Create an Azure Kubernetes Service cluster

You need to create an AKS cluster in a supported region. The below commands create a resource group called MyResourceGroup and an AKS cluster called MyAKS.

az group create --name MyResourceGroup --location eastus
az aks create -g MyResourceGroup -n MyAKS --location eastus --generate-ssh-keys

Enable Azure Dev Spaces on your AKS cluster

Use the use-dev-spaces command to enable Dev Spaces on your AKS cluster and follow the prompts. The below command enables Dev Spaces on the MyAKS cluster in the MyResourceGroup group and creates a default dev space.


The use-dev-spaces command will also install the Azure Dev Spaces CLI if its not already installed. You cannot install the Azure Dev Spaces CLI in the Azure Cloud Shell.

az aks use-dev-spaces -g MyResourceGroup -n MyAKS
'An Azure Dev Spaces Controller' will be created that targets resource 'MyAKS' in resource group 'MyResourceGroup'. Continue? (y/N): y

Creating and selecting Azure Dev Spaces Controller 'MyAKS' in resource group 'MyResourceGroup' that targets resource 'MyAKS' in resource group 'MyResourceGroup'...2m 24s

Select a dev space or Kubernetes namespace to use as a dev space.
 [1] default
Type a number or a new name: 1

Kubernetes namespace 'default' will be configured as a dev space. This will enable Azure Dev Spaces instrumentation for new workloads in the namespace. Continue? (Y/n): Y

Configuring and selecting dev space 'default'...3s

Managed Kubernetes cluster 'MyAKS' in resource group 'MyResourceGroup' is ready for development in dev space 'default'. Type `azds prep` to prepare a source directory for use with Azure Dev Spaces and `azds up` to run.

Get sample application code

In this article, you use the Azure Dev Spaces sample application to demonstrate using Azure Dev Spaces.

Clone the application from GitHub.

git clone https://github.com/Azure/dev-spaces

Prepare the sample application in Visual Studio Code

Open Visual Studio Code, click File then Open..., navigate to the dev-spaces/samples/dotnetcore/getting-started/webfrontend directory, and click Open.

You now have the webfrontend project open in Visual Studio Code. To run the application in your dev space, generate the Docker and Helm chart assets using the Azure Dev Spaces extension in the Command Palette.

To open the Command Palette in Visual Studio Code, click View then Command Palette. Begin typing Azure Dev Spaces and click on Azure Dev Spaces: Prepare configuration files for Azure Dev Spaces.

Prepare configuration files for Azure Dev Spaces

When Visual Studio Code also prompts you to configure your public endpoint, choose Yes to enable a public endpoint.

Select public endpoint

This command prepares your project to run in Azure Dev Spaces by generating a Dockerfile and Helm chart. It also generates a .vscode directory with debugging configuration at the root of your project.


The Dockerfile and Helm chart for your project is used by Azure Dev Spaces to build and run your code, but you can modify these files if you want to change how the project is built and ran.

Build and run code in Kubernetes from Visual Studio Code

Click on the Debug icon on the left and click .NET Core Launch (AZDS) at the top.

The screenshot is of the upper-left corner of the Visual Studio Code window. The debug icon is highlighted, the left panel is titled "DEBUG", and a drop-down list to the right of the title shows "dot NET Core Launch (A Z D S).

This command builds and runs your service in Azure Dev Spaces in debugging mode. The Terminal window at the bottom shows the build output and URLs for your service running in Azure Dev Spaces. The Debug Console shows the log output.


If you don't see any Azure Dev Spaces commands in the Command Palette, make sure you have installed the Visual Studio Code extension for Azure Dev Spaces. Also verify you opened the dev-spaces/samples/dotnetcore/getting-started/webfrontend directory in Visual Studio Code.

You can see the service running by opening the public URL.


Initially, the public URL may show a Bad Gateway error. Wait a few seconds before refreshing the webpage, and you should see your service running.

Click Debug then Stop Debugging to stop the debugger.

Update code

To deploy an updated version of your service, you can update any file in your project and rerun .NET Core Launch (AZDS). For example:

  1. If your application is still running, click Debug then Stop Debugging to stop it.

  2. Update line 22 in Controllers/HomeController.cs to:

    ViewData["Message"] = "Your application description page in Azure.";
  3. Save your changes.

  4. Rerun .NET Core Launch (AZDS).

  5. Navigate to your running service and click About.

  6. Observe your changes.

  7. Click Debug then Stop Debugging to stop your application.

Setting and using breakpoints for debugging

Start your service in debugging mode using .NET Core Launch (AZDS).

Navigate back to the Explorer view by clicking View then Explorer. Open Controllers/HomeController.cs and click somewhere on line 22 to put your cursor there. To set a breakpoint hit F9 or click Debug then Toggle Breakpoint.

Open your service in a browser and notice no message is displayed. Return to Visual Studio Code and observe line 20 is highlighted. The breakpoint you set has paused the service at line 20. To resume the service, hit F5 or click Debug then Continue. Return to your browser and notice the message is now displayed.

While running your service in Kubernetes with a debugger attached, you have full access to debug information such as the call stack, local variables, and exception information.

Remove the breakpoint by putting your cursor on line 22 in Controllers/HomeController.cs and hitting F9.

Update code from Visual Studio Code

While the service is running in debugging mode, update line 22 in Controllers/HomeController.cs. For example:

ViewData["Message"] = "Your application description page in Azure while debugging!";

Save the file. Click Debug then Restart Debugging or in the Debug toolbar, click the Restart Debugging button.

The Debug toolbar is a small pane at the top center of the page (just below the page title). The Restart button displays a circular arrow, and is highlighted. The hover image for the button is "Restart (control + shift + f 5)".

Open your service in a browser and notice your updated message is displayed.

Instead of rebuilding and redeploying a new container image each time code edits are made, Azure Dev Spaces incrementally recompiles code within the existing container to provide a faster edit/debug loop.

Clean up your Azure resources

az group delete --name MyResourceGroup --yes --no-wait

Next steps

Learn more about how Azure Dev Spaces works.