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📓 VS Code Live Share

We’re building up to begin writing actual code but first we need to talk about VS Code Live Share: a collaboration tool that allows us to share a coding workspace with others.

Imagine you are writing code and you may be working with a peer or need help from an instructor. How do you share your code with them? Screen sharing is one option but it only allows other people to view your code.

Live Share in contrast allows others to view and edit code on your computer. Live Share is a VS Code extension that is very popular in the tech field and makes remote collaboration a lot easier.



VS Code Live Share extension is installed following this lesson: Installing and Using VS Code Live Share

Important new terminology in this exercise:

  • Live Share, Live Share session
  • Starting or hosting a Live Share session
  • Joining and Live Share session

Let's Pair Program!
Everyone in the pair group is sharing a computer:
Go through the following instructions together. When you get to the point where you should join a Live Share session, collaborate with other pair groups in-person or reach out to a remote pair group on Discord.

If pairing remotely:
Each person in the pair group should take a turn going through the lessons and hosting a Live Share session. Other members of the pair group can join that session.

Project Setup for Live Share

Use the project you set up in the previous lesson or recreate it again if needed.

Open my-first-project in VS Code.

You should see hi.txt in the left-hand pane of VS Code. This is called a file tree. Currently it is listing all the files in the my-first-project folder.

If the tree isn’t showing, click the top left Explorer icon (circled in red).

my first project file tree with explore icon circled in red

Collaborate with Live Share

Since Live Share is a well supported tool of VS Code, let's learn how to use Live Share by looking at the documentation.

Work through the steps on this page: Collaborate with Live Share. By the end of this page you should successfully be able to start and join a Live Share session.

A Few Notes:

  • Signing in via GitHub.
    You will be prompted to sign in to use Live Share via your GitHub account. If you don’t have a GitHub account at this moment it is okay to continue as anonymous for now. \
  • The big blue “Share” button is the same as “Start collaboration session.”
    Your Live Share menu might look different than the image example in the Live Share documentation. That's okay. Sometimes the user interface (UI) of programs change and the documentation is slow to update. This image below is closer to what you should expect but there may still be some differences.

example of live share menu in vs code

  • Files need to be saved to work with Live Share.
    Live Share may not initially share a file that is unsaved.
  • Click “Invite participants” to copy the invite link again.
    When you start a Live Share session, a link to invite others to collaborate is automatically copied to your clipboard. If you need to get the link again, just click on “Invite participants”, which is highlighted in the image below.

static image of invite participants button in live share

  • How to stop a Live Share session.

Hover your mouse over the Live Share menu and, across from “SESSION DETAILS”, will appear an icon circle with a strike through it. Click this icon to end the Live Share session.

static image how to end live share session

Troubleshooting Live Share

If you’re running into a problem using Live Share, see if you can find a solution to that problem following Microsoft's Troubleshooting Visual Studio Live Share documentation. The tool you are using is VS Code.

Reach out to an instructor if there is still an issue before moving on.

Useful Features of Live Share

Live share offers a lot of useful features but here are the most relevant ones for you at this time. Take the time you need now to explore these features and set up Live Share to your liking.

Let's Pair Program!
The resources we're sharing on Live Share demonstrate that any participants in a Live Share session can work simultaneously. While this is an amazing feature, remember that it is not our goal for effective pair programming. Pair programming is not about outputting large amounts of code or getting work done as fast as possible. Right now we are using pair programming to learn from each other.

So remember, when working remotely, only one person at a time should be typing.

Let's Pair Program!
Continue to try out Live Share within your pair group or with another pair group. Try having one person type one of the questions for other people in the Live Share session to answer.

What is your favorite time of the day and why?
What is your dream job?
What are three of your favorite foods?
What would be the most exciting scientific discovery ever? (Examples: time travel, recreating dinosaurs, flying cars, etc.)
Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or to the future to meet your descendants? Why?
What is your most used emoji?
What's your favorite sandwich and why?


Live Share is a robust tool but you’ll become more familiar with it over time. We’ll share more features of Live Share as they become relevant.

The terminal is direct access to your computer. So for security reasons the custom is that the person who owns the computer should be the only one to type in their terminal. This might break the turn taking rules of pair programming at times. For example, the driver might need to ask the navigator to type something in the terminal because it's the navigator's terminal on their computer. By default VS Code restricts terminal access to Live Share participants to read-only.