No-no-no-notarised: Apple gives Microsoft's Visual Studio Code the all-clear for Mac devs

Don't cry for me, Catalina! Don't scream when firing up the open-source editor ♬

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Microsoft's open-source code editor is now notarised by Apple so the nagging of macOS Catalina should be a thing of the past with the February release of Visual Studio Code.

Among Catalina's many delights, Apple introduced a requirement that Mac software distributed outside of the cosy walled garden of Apple's App Store must be signed off by the fruity firm itself.

The thinking was that the move would protect users from miscreants and naughty code (although we'd contend the latter defines Catalina itself quite nicely and the former could be applied to the Apple devs who thought the OS was good to go back in the day.)

Visual Studio Code developers found themselves struggling to even open the editor in Apple's latest and greatest last year despite the Mac vendor adjusting the notarisation prerequisites until January 2020.

For those unfamiliar with the process, notarisation is not an app review as such. The automated Apple notary service scans for issues such as code-signing and requires the hardened runtime capability and, sadly, Visual Studio Code lacked the necessary bells and whistles up until this release. Affected users found themselves presented with a scary "'Visual Studio Code' can't be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software" dialog from whence they could then, in theory, sidestep the shrieking of Catalina.

As of this VS Code build, Catalina's paranoia should abate.

As well as the fix for Apple fans, the open-source editor now features Search Editors, a handy tool to view workspace results in a full-sized editor (replete with syntax highlighting and extra context.) The "close" button has sensibly been ditched from the progress indicator to avoid users thinking an operation had been cancelled and the editor has been tweaked to include handy tricks such as a column selection.

Unsurprisingly, TypeScript 3.8.3 has put in an appearance this time around and the integrated terminal now defaults to the Unicode 11 widths. "What this means to most people," according to Microsoft, "is that emojis will be correctly showing up as wide characters." Joy.

Those brave enough to run an Insider build of the editor will also see the arrival of Settings Sync; handy for keeping favoured settings, extensions and shortcuts synchronised over systems. The new JavaScript debugger is now installed by default and Chromium Edge can now be launched with a change of debug type from pwa-chrome to pwa-edge. It is also possible to remote debug browser source code from a remote workspace.

Finally, the gang has finished the exploration to bundle Electron 7 (complete Node.js 12.8.1 and Chromium 78.0.3904.130) into VS Code. Sadly, those suffering from issues with HDR displays and Windows will have to wait for Electron 9 for VS Code to get a bit more usable. A workaround requiring tinkering with the disable-color-correct-rendering setting in the argv.json file is available, but the team was keen to emphasise that it should only be used if issues are being experienced. ®

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