How to Open With Live Server in VS Code

Live Server, a Visual Studio (VS) Code extension, enables developers to preview their work in real time. The extension eliminates the tediousness of manually refreshing the browser each time you make any changes, which can add up in larger projects. It is particularly handy for web developers working with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

How to Open With Live Server in VS Code

This tutorial will explain how to set up, customize and use the tool with different file types, and troubleshoot some common issues a developer may encounter while using it.

Opening a Project With Live Server in VS Code

Without the Live Server, whenever you change your code or add content, you must refresh the browser manually for the updates to appear. To put this into perspective – if you make 100 changes a day, you may have to refresh the browser upwards of 100 times to see each change. Here’s how you can open a project using Live Server in Visual Studio Code:

  1. Install the Live Server extension from Marketplace. You can find it in the VS Code Activity Bar.
  2. Open your project by either clicking “File” and “Open File” or using keyboard shortcuts, as you prefer.
  3. Right-click an HTML file in the project and choose “Open with Live Server” from the context menu.

A new browser window will display the live site. Any changes you commit to the project files will automatically update in the browser.

Customizing Live Server Settings in VS Code

To make the most out of the Live Server extension, try out different customization options available in its settings. You can modify the port number, HTTPS, and proxy configurations, among other features. Let’s go step-by-step through implementing these customization options.

Change the Default Port Number

You might want to use a different port number than the default 5500. This is easy to achieve:

  1. Locate “liveServer.settings.port” line (default port value is 5500).
  2. Set to 0 for a random port number, or choose a number you want to use.

Enable HTTPS Connections

Enable HTTPS connections for more security, like this:

  1. Find the “liveServer.settings.https” HTTPS protocol line.
  2. Change the “enable” value to “true.”
  3. Type in cert, key, and passphrase file paths as necessary.

Configure Proxy Settings

Configuring proxy settings can be necessary for specific scenarios. Here’s how to set up the proxy:

  1. Enable proxy with “liveServer.settings.proxy.”
  2. Change “enable” to “true” if it isn’t so already.
  3. Set “baseUri” for the desired proxy location.
  4. Provide “proxyUri” for the actual URL.

Integrating Edge DevTools With Live Server in VS Code

Edge DevTools and Live Server integration in Visual Studio Code can improve web development by making it substantially more efficient. This tool combo simultaneously displays real-time changes and allows accessing developer tools directly.

  1. Install the Live Server extension for Visual Studio Code from the VS Code Marketplace.
  2. Install the Edge DevTools extension for VS Code from the same source by searching for “Microsoft Edge Tools for VS Code.”
  3. Use the integrated browser developer tools to sync changes with the source automatically.

With both extensions installed, you can see a live preview of your changes in an embedded browser window inside VS Code.

Using Live Server With Different File Types

The Live Server extension is versatile enough for many file types. It works with HTML files by default and supports CSS and JavaScript files. When you change a stylesheet or script with these file types, the extension will instantly refresh the browser to reflect the changes. Developers, especially front-end web designers, can benefit from Live Server’s instant update feature. If tweaking CSS, you’ll see the effects of changes in real-time – no need to wait to check if the color, font, or layout is correct. And for HTML and JavaScript coders, it’s easy to spot bugs and blunders between different files.

The Live Server is still handy for those primarily working with PHP files. To use its functionality with PHP, however, you have to configure a local server that supports PHP.

The Live Server is compatible with static site generators such as Jekyll and Hugo. They allow you to see and quickly modify your static site’s output. Integrating Live Server with a static site generator allows for efficient development without manually building and deploying the site each time you make changes.

Troubleshooting Common Live Server Issues

While the Live Server extension is generally reliable, some issues may still arise. For example, the Live Server might fail to start, live reloading may stop working, or you could encounter CORS issues.

Live Server Fails to Start

This may happen if the extension is improperly installed. If so, you can:

  • Verify that the extension is installed correctly and enabled. If you’ve forgotten to enable or accidentally disabled it, enable it to resolve the issue.
  • If you suspect an installation issue, try reinstalling the extension.
  • Check your settings and ensure your workspace folder is accessible, configured, and not open in another instance.

Live Reloading Isn’t Working

If live reloading is not behaving as it should, here’s something you can try:

  • Double-check your file types and file type support.
  • Confirm that the extension is correctly tracking changes and not ignoring the files that should receive modifications. Check settings such as “liveServer.settings.ignoreFiles.”

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing Problems

CORS issues may arise when dealing with resources from different origins. To resolve these issues:

  • Allow cross-origin requests on your server.
  • Use a local development server.

Live Server Can’t Open Browser Tabs

If Live Server fails to open browser tabs in your default browser, try adjusting the settings:

  • Check your default web browser.
  • Adjust the Server’s browser settings in VS Code. When you enable live share, you will need to start a Collaboration Session through the command palette.

Advanced Live Server Features

The Live Server offers several lesser-known but rather convenient additional features. One “hidden” feature worth mentioning is compatibility with preprocessors, such as Sass, Less, or TypeScript, to automatically compile your code and refresh the preview. Live Server can also integrate with third-party tools and libraries, such as frameworks and build systems.

Explore the Live Server settings and documentation to identify the relevant integrations which can assist your stack.

Live Server Performance Optimization

There are a few tweaks to try to make Live Server perform better.

Avoid Excess Reloads

One way to make the Server perform at its best is by configuring the settings to avoid excess reloads. For instance, you can adjust the “liveServer.settings.ignoreFiles” option to define which files or folders should not trigger a live reload. Limiting the amount of data eligible for a reload reduces the frequency of refreshes and conserves system resources.

Increase Refresh Delay

Fine-tune the browser refresh delay to squeeze more performance out of your Server. To achieve this, adjust the “liveServer.settings.wait” server setting. Rapid-fire reloads that sometimes occur when saving multiple consecutive files can strain your system’s resources. Increasing the delay through the “liveServer.settings.wait” helps keep this potential issue at bay.

Close Unused Instances

Finally, consider closing unused Live Server instances for a more straightforward performance trick when working on multiple projects. Keeping several instances open at once can consume significant system resources, depending on your hardware.

Live Server Tips

To get the most out of the Live Server, try out a few practical tips:

Keep Development and Production Environments Separate

One tip other developers may share is to keep your development environment separate from your production environment. This separation helps you avoid accidentally deploying unfinished or untested code, thus keeping your code cleaner and saving precious time.

Use Separate Workspaces for Multiple Projects

If you’re working on multiple projects simultaneously, use separate workspaces in VS Code to keep your projects organized. This approach will enable you to easily switch between projects and manage their respective Live Server instances.

Better Collaboration With Live Share and Live Server

The Live Share and Live Server extensions also enhance your collaboration with other developers. This setup allows you to share your workspace and live preview with others. It’s an optimal approach for teams working together on projects and troubleshooting issues in real time.

Additional FAQs

What is Live Server in Visual Studio Code?

Live Server is a popular VS Code extension that previews HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files in real time.

How do I stop Live Server?

To stop a server, open the Command Palette and type “Live Server: Stop Live Server.”

Why is Live Server not running?

Some possible reasons for this issue involve an improper extension installation, incorrect project setup, or a firewall or proxy blocking the server.

Can I use Live Server with Microsoft Edge DevTools in VS Code?

You can use Live Server in conjunction with Microsoft Edge. To do this, install the Live Server and Edge DevTools extensions for Visual Studio Code.

Join the Live (Server) Conversation

The Live Server extension in Visual Studio Code is a must-have tool for modern developers, helping them optimize the workflow and release top-notch projects. It eliminates unnecessary browser refreshes and enables real-time collaboration by sharing workspaces and previews.

What are your thoughts about this extension? Which tips and tricks have you found particularly helpful? Let us know in the comments – it could greatly help fellow coders.

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