Microsoft makes new GitHub collaboration tools available to testers

In conjunction with the May 6 virtual GitHub Satellite event, Microsoft is announcing a handful of new GitHub collaboration tools which it is making available first in beta. The new tools include: GitHub Codespace, GitHub Discussions; Code scanning and secret scanning; and new collaboratoin tools for GitHub Private Instances.

Last week, Microsoft announced it was renaming Visual Studio Online to “Visual Studio Codespaces.” Today, in keeping with that branding, Microsoft announced GitHub Codespaces, which, like VS Codespaces, is meant to give users a cloud-hosted development environment. GitHub Codespaces will spin up in seconds, officials said, directly inside GitHub so that developers can start contributing to projects immediately.

GitHub Codespaces includes a browser-based version of the VS Code editor. Devs also can opt to use their desktop IDEs instead, if they prefer, to start a codespace in GitHub and connect to it from their desktops.

Pricing for GitHub Codespaces isn’t finalized yet, officials said, “but code-editing functionality in the codespaces IDE will always be free.” Microsoft is planning pay-as-you-go pricing for computationally intensive tasks, like builds, similar to the way GitHub Actions is priced. However, during the beta, GitHub Codespaces will be free.

GitHub Discussions, which will be available in beta for select public repositories soon, is meant to give developers a dedicated place to converse. Currently, GitHub only offers issues and pull requests as places for these conversations. Discussions will be threaded and live inside users’ project repositories.

Microsoft also is adding two new betas — for code scanning and secret scanning. Code scanning scans every git push for potential security vulnerabilities, with results displayed inside a pull request. Code scanning is using the CodeQL semantic analysis engine. Any public project can sign up for the beta.

Meanwhile, secret scanning, aka token scanning, is now available for private repositories. (It’s been available for public repositories since 2018.) Secret scanning watches private repositories for known secret formats and notifies developers when they are found.

GitHub Private Instances are “coming soon,” officials said today. GitHub Private Instances will be a new option for enterprise customers and will provide security, compliance and policy features including bring-your-own-key encryption, backup archiving and compliance with regional data sovereignty requirements.