Crystal Dev Containers

About a year ago, Microsoft released a way to develop inside a container using VSCode. The idea is so wildly clever and simple it blow my mind daily. The idea is simple:

Build an environment for your code to run in, utilizing Docker images. Then inject a server-like version of VSCode into the running container with a given list of extensions. Finally, have an exterior client version of VSCode connect to the running server.

The result is like working locally on a piece of code or entire project but, requiring the programmer to install zero dependencies (beyond Docker). No Node modules, Ruby gems, Go packages, etc. This also means that there's no need to weigh down a VSCode install with a bunch of language specific plugins.

The only requirements to get started are, Docker, VSCode, and a special extension pack

With Crystal reaching a 1.0 milestone soon, I decided to dive in and create a Crystal specific dev container:


RUN apt-get update && \
apt-get install -y build-essential curl libevent-dev libssl-dev libxml2-dev libyaml-dev libgmp-dev git && \
apt-get clean && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* /tmp/* /var/tmp/*

RUN curl -sL "" | apt-key add - && \
echo "deb crystal main" | tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/crystal.list && \
apt-get update

RUN apt install -y crystal

Here is a wget/curlable version

Once VSCode starts up using the above Dockerfile, the entire Crystal development chain will be available through VSCode's terminal

As an added bonus, When initializing a devcontainer in a repository, a devcontainer.json file is automatically created that allows for some container specific overides. The extension listed below, when added to the devcontainer.json extension collection, will provide Language Server Support to any .cr file (along with a lot of other Crystal specific goodies).