Check Out Visual Studio Online

Tuesday, 03 November 2015
  • By
  • Jeff Ammons
  • Tags:
  • Programming
  • Visual Studio
  • Bit Bucket
  • GitHub
  • Visual Studio Online
  • Build Server

Video From Build Conference 2015

Visual Studio Online session Video from Microsoft's Build Conference 2015.

There are a number of great source control hosting services on the web.

GitHub is probably the best known at this point, but there are a few others worth investigating.

I personally use GitHub for my public, open source projects and BitBucket for my private repos.

A surprising choice for hosting Git is Microsoft's Visual Studio Online. What? Microsoft?

Sign of the apocalypse! Cats and dogs, living together!

On the surface Visual Studio Online, or VSO, is a fair clone of BitBucket.

In both cases you get an unlimited number of private repos as long as you have 5 or fewer developers.

Where VSO becomes very interesting is when you look beyond source control at its other offerings.

First of all you get project management help complete with bug tracking and Kanban boards.

What I find most interesting, however is the build server.

I should say build service since it let's you run your builds on pre-built virtual machines in a pool you don't have to manage.

If you've worked with the older, XAML based build configurations from Microsoft, you are probably skeptical. Well, skeptical and possibly scarred.

I always found that build system to be an abomination, so I wasn't super optimistic when I heard about the new version.

It's been several months since the Build conference, but I finally watched the video linked at the top of the post.


Not only is the new build system composed of sensible text files instead of chopped up and hidden behind a myriad of dialogs, you can actually build more than just .Net apps!

Now you can build anything from Java apps, to Node.js apps, to fricken' IOS apps!

Well, to be fair you can't build IOS apps on a Windows VM, but you can link out from the build system to trigger build steps on a Mac. At least they say you can. I don't have a Mac, so I can't prove it.

I've spent some time over the past few days setting up a build for work in VSO, and I'm impressed enough that I'm considering moving some of my Git repos from BitBucket to VSO.

I can't promise you'll be as impressed as I have been (I am easily entertained, after all), but I do recommend you check out what Microsoft has to offer. For personal projects with fewer than 5 developers it's free, so check it out!