Personalizing

Visual Studio Online's environments are fully personalizable on a per user basis. This is accomplished by referencing a "dotfiles repo" at environment creation time.

Dotfiles are files whose filename begins with a dot (.). They typically contain configuration information for various applications. They are used to control the way terminals, editors, source control and other various tools behave. .bashrc, .gitignore and .editorconfig are examples of dotfiles commonly used by developers.

It is common practice for developers to put their dotfiles on GitHub, so they can easily synchronize them between all of their development environments. If you don't have your own collection of carefully crafted dotfiles already, be sure to check out one of the many dotfiles bootstrap projects that exist.

Visual Studio Online personalization reference

To configure a dotfiles repo in Visual Studio Code, press F1 and select the Preferences: Open Setting (UI) command in the command palette.

In the Settings tab that opens, select the Extensions node in the navigation tree, followed by Visual Studio Online.

Visual Studio Online Settings in Visual Studio Code

You can also configure dotfiles in from online.visualstudio.com. Press the Create environment button, and expand the Dotfiles (optional) settings.

Visual Studio Online Dotfiles Settings

In both experiences, there's three options that can be configured:

  1. Dotfiles Repository: The URL of the Git repository that contains your desired dotfiles. (Required to personalize an environment, optional otherwise)

  2. Dotfiles Target Path: The path where the dotfiles repo will be cloned. Defaults to ~dotfiles. (Optional)

  3. Dotfiles Install Command: The command to run after cloning the dotfiles repository. By default, VS Online scans the dotfiles repository and runs one of the following files:

    • install.sh
    • install
    • bootstrap.sh
    • bootstrap
    • setup.sh
    • setup

    If none of these files are found, then any files and folders starting with . are symlinked to the home (~ or $HOME on Linux) directory.

Once the Dotfiles Repository is configured in VS Code, any environments created going forward will be personalized.