Developer Documentation

Cloud Development Environments

Altis has experimental built-in support for GitHub Codespaces, a Cloud-based development environment, that makes it possible to spin up a complete development environment in seconds within your browser, with a full editor based on Visual Studio Code, without having to install anything on your local machine.

This is useful for many reasons:

  • Bootstrap a full development environment in seconds.
  • Zero local installation required.
  • Standardized and highly configurable environment setup.
  • Powerful and scalable development environment.
  • Ability to share preview environments with colleagues.

How to start

  1. Enable Codespaces support for your GitHub organization

    In order for Codespaces to become available to contributors of a specific repository, the GitHub organization administrator needs to enable support for Codespaces for such contributors. Refer to the official Enabling Codespaces for your organization and Managing billing for Codespaces in your organization guides for more information.

  2. Bootstrap the configuration

    After Codespaces is activated, you'll need to bootstrap the development container configuration using composer dev-tools bootstrap codespaces. See the documentation on devcontainers for ways to customize your container further.

  3. Start a new container

    Once the devcontainer configuration is committed, you'll be able to start a new Codespaces environment at , or from the "Codespaces" tab when you click on "Code" button where you typically get your repository checkout link. Note: we recommend configuring your codespace environment to use a machine type of '4-core'. Choose "Configure and create codespace" from the drop down menu on Github.

  4. Start development!

    Once the codespace is started, you'll be able to use the editor-in-browser to manage the project code. You can use the terminal to start the integrated local server environment as you would if you installed it locally, using composer server start. You can also use it to pull and push code in a fully-featured Debian-based environment.

  5. Preview

    Once the local server is started, you'll be presented with the URL to the preview environment where you can view the project in your browser.

  6. Sharing

    Codespaces preview environments are protected by your own GitHub login session, and are not publicly available by default. But you can explicitly choose specific ports to be public through the Ports panel within the editor, so you can share it publicly with others. Port 80 is typically what you'll need to expose publicly to allow access to your project.


GitHub Codespaces support is still experimental, so some hiccups can be expected. Typically, rebuilding the dev container fixes such hiccups.