Open VSX Is an Open-Source Alternative to Microsoft’s Marketplace
When working with VSCodium, it’s possible you can’t find an extension you’ve seen in the marketplace. Here’s why.
This is the piece where I sit like a grampa in an old chair and I put on my glasses to read you a story.
Once upon a time, a developer1 followed a tutorial to start developing an integration for an open-source solution. The guide told him to install a Microsoft extension in his VS Code. So, he opened the Extensions menu of his VSCodium and searched for it, but got no result.
Sure enough, the extension was visible on the marketplace on the web and in VS Code, but not in VSCodium. He thought Microsoft had found a way to lock this particular extension for non-VS Code editors and used Microsoft’s editor to go on with his learning.
A few months later, he tried to install another extension, which was absolutely not related to Microsoft, and it appeared to be unavailable, too. That one2 was clearly open to everyone, and yet, it wasn’t available in the Extensions menu.
He decided to investigate, this time, and discovered that VSCodium doesn’t use Microsoft’s marketplace, but Open VSX instead. The extensions he wanted just hadn’t been published to that one.
What’s Open VSX, and Why? #
Open VSX is a self-hostable, vendor-neutral, community-driven, open-source alternative extension outlet to Microsoft’s Visual Studio Marketplace.
Downloading extensions from the Microsoft Marketplace for any use other than in Microsoft products is prohibited as well. Eclipse Open VSX: A Free Marketplace for VS Code Extensions, Sven Efftinge, Miro Spönnemann, 03/2020
So Microsoft created a wide registry of open-source products, but restrict their use to their proprietary solutions exclusively.
And here comes Open VSX:
- You get to use an open source registry, with one server available for everyone at https://open-vsx.org. Both Theia and VSCodium use this registry by default.
- You can also host it yourself.
Thus, you can have control over the sources of both your IDE and the extension repository.
Publish Your Extensions to Open VSX #
If you’re a maintainer of a VS Code extension and you’d like to make sure it’s available for open source editors too, you should also take the time to publish it to Open VSX.
The full procedure is not that difficult:
- Register on open-vsx.org through GitHub OAuth3.
- Create an access token and copy it.
npx ovsx create-namespace <publisher> --pat <token>with the publisher name specified in extension’s package.json.
npx ovsx publish --pat <token>in the directory of the extension you want to publish. Eclipse Open VSX: A Free Marketplace for VS Code Extensions, Sven Efftinge, Miro Spönnemann, 03/2020
There’s also the possibility to create a pull request to a seeding GitHub repository.
The End #
Sources and references
Open VSX Registry
Eclipse Open VSX: A Free Marketplace for VS Code Extensions, by Sven Efftinge, Miro Spönnemann, 03/2020