• 4 min read

Introducing Dev Spaces for AKS

Today I’m excited to announce the public preview of Dev Spaces for Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), an easy way to build and debug applications for Kubernetes – only available on Azure. At Microsoft…

Today I’m excited to announce the public preview of Dev Spaces for Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), an easy way to build and debug applications for Kubernetes – only available on Azure. At Microsoft Build, Scott Hanselman showed how you could use Dev Spaces to quickly debug and fix a single application inside a complex microservices environment. In case you missed the event or were distracted by the on-stage theatrics, it’s worth reviewing why Dev Spaces is such a unique product.

Imagine you are a new employee trying to fix a bug in a complex microservices application consisting of dozens of components, each with their own configuration and backing services. To get started, you must configure your local development environment so that it can mimic production including setting up your IDE, building tool chain, containerized service dependencies, a local Kubernetes environment, mocks for backing services, and more. With all the time involved setting up your development environment, fixing that first bug could take days.

Or you could use Dev Spaces and AKS.

Setup your dev environment in seconds

With Dev Spaces, all a new developer needs is their IDE and the Azure CLI. Simply create a new Dev Space inside AKS and begin working on any component in the microservice environment safely, without impeding other traffic flows.

azds space select --name gabe

Under the covers, Dev Spaces creates a Kubernetes namespace and populates it with only the microservices that are under active development inside your IDE. With Dev Spaces setting up your environment now takes seconds, not days.

Iterate on code changes rapidly

Now that your environment is setup, it’s time to write some code. At Microsoft we call this process the “inner loop” – while you’re writing code, but before you’ve pushed to version control. With containers and Kubernetes, the process of writing code can be painfully slow as you wait for container images to build, push to a registry, and deploy to your cluster. Dev Spaces includes code synchronization technology to sync your IDE with live containers running inside AKS. Want a fast inner-loop experience? With Dev Spaces, changes in your IDE are pushed up to your AKS cluster in seconds.

Debug your containers remotely

If you’ve ever used a software debugger, you’ll know how empowering it can be to set breakpoints, inspect your call stack, and even modify memory live as you’re coding. Unfortunately, remote debugging with containers is brittle and difficult to configure. In fact, most developers working on container-based microservices are forced to use print line debugging, which is slow and time consuming, especially when your changes depend on a complex set of surrounding services. Thanks to the innovative use of service mesh technology in Dev Spaces, a developer can use a simple hostname prefix to work on any service in isolation.

For example, let’s say I have a service running at contoso.com that must traverse 10 microservices before it returns a result. If I have a Dev Space named `gabe`, I can hit:


With this special URL prefix, traffic will be routed through any services under active development. This means I can set breakpoints in my IDE on service 3 and service 7, while using unmodified instances of the other services, all without interrupting any of the normal traffic flows. How cool is that!? Today we support remote debugging with .NET Core and Node.js, with more languages on the way.

Now that you know what you can do with Dev Spaces, head over to our documentation to get started. And to see how to use Azure Dev Spaces as part of your development flow with Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code see this blog.

Bootstrap new applications easily

Developers love the agility, reliability, and scalability benefits that Kubernetes provides. They love the community and the open source ecosystem around Kubernetes. The YAML manifests and is Dockerfiles required to use Kubernetes? Not so much. Fortunately, Dev Spaces features application scaffolding that makes it easy to bootstrap a new application:

azds prep

This command will detect your application type and lay down a Dockerfile, Helm chart, and other metadata into your source tree. This makes it easy to containerize and package your application for Kubernetes without having to learn the arcane details. Since the scaffolding becomes a part of your source code, you can tweak the configuration as you see fit. You can also modify your scaffolded assets to help transition your app from development to production.

Use open source technologies

Though Dev Spaces is only available on Azure, the scaffolding builds upon the open source Draft project, which provides an inner-loop experience on any Kubernetes cluster. Over time this will mean that any project using Draft can switch to Dev Spaces and vice-versa. As we continue to improve Dev Spaces on Azure, you can expect more innovation in the open source Draft project which will benefit the entire Kubernetes community.

It’s been an exciting month for the Azure team. AKS is now generally available and has grown over 80 percent in the last 30 days. AKS is now available in 12 regions including East US 2 and Japan East, both added since general availability two weeks ago. I spent the last few weeks showing off Dev Spaces to audiences around the globe and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dev Spaces makes developing against a complex microservices environment simple. Give it a try. We can’t wait to hear your feedback.