I automated publishing my VSCode Extension

Saurav Sahu
3 min readOct 10, 2021


Grand Palais by @photosbysaurav on Instagram

Github Actions has changed the way CI/CD is done for Open-Source projects. In this blog post, I want to show you one awesome way this has come in handy, in one of my projects.


I manage 'Custom Profiles for VSCode', which is an extension to help you create isolated VSCode Instances and also for teams to align on their VSCode configuration.

The Problem

Every time I make an improvement to the project, I have to do this additional task of creating a .vsix bundle and upload it to the VSCode Marketplace. What I'd love to do is, merge my code changes and automate all the deployment related tasks.

Github Actions to the Rescue

I chose to tackle this with Github Actions. I create a PR - which should ideally try to build and test my package and once merged, automatically deploy to the VSCode Marketplace.

Let's Dive into the Code

All the code is available on github in the 'Custom Profiles for VSCode' repository. You can find the workflow file here - cd.yml

Here's the simple workflow file I used to automate the deployment.

name: "cd"

- cool

runs-on: ubuntu-latest

- name: Checkout to branch
uses: actions/checkout@v2

- name: Setup node.js
uses: actions/setup-node@v1
node-version: ${{ secrets.NODE_VERSION }}

- name: Install packages
run: npm ci

- name: Calculate version
id: calculateVersion
run: |
APP_VERSION=`cat package.json | jq ".version" -M | sed 's/\"//g'`
echo "::set-output name=AppVersion::$APP_VERSION"
echo "app version = v$APP_VERSION"
- name: Build VSIX package
run: npm run build -- -o custom-profiles-for-vscode.v${{ steps.calculateVersion.outputs.AppVersion }}.vsix

- name: Publish extension package
run: npm run vsce -- publish -p $VSCODE_MARKETPLACE_TOKEN

- uses: actions/upload-artifact@v2
name: Upload artifact
name: custom-profiles-for-vscode.v${{ steps.calculateVersion.outputs.AppVersion }}.vsix
path: custom-profiles-for-vscode.v${{ steps.calculateVersion.outputs.AppVersion }}.vsix

The steps should be fairly simple to understand, which include:

  1. get the code from my branch
  2. setup node.js on the Runner
  3. install the npm packages

4. Calculate the version

I'm using the version field in the `package.json` file to determine which version of the package I need to deploy.

This is not an issue even if I forget to bump the version, as the deployment would anyway fail.

I will integrate GitVersion with this at some point. Stay tuned for that blog post! 😁

5. Building the project

I'm using VSCE - VSCode Extension Manager package to build and deploy my project to the Marketplace.

"scripts": {
"build": "(rm -rf out || true) && mkdir out && cp package.json out && vsce package"

Here I copy the package.json and the contents of the build and get ready to deploy. This creates the .vsix file which we’ll check out later.

6. Deploy to Marketplace

Again, VSCE comes handy to push the build to the marketplace. I've added a token for authentication.

You can create this token through Azure DevOps. Check this page for more details - https://code.visualstudio.com/api/working-with-extensions/publishing-extension. You need a token with the marketplace:managescope and you should be good to go.

Inject this as a secret in your Github repository's Secrets page, and you'll be able to use it in your Workflow.

7. Publishing an artifact

If the VSCode Marketplace isn't your thing, I also publish the extension as a .vsix file which can be installed in VSCode by using the Command Palette Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + P then EXtensions: Install from VSIX

And it's that easy to automate deployment for your VSCode Extension Projects to the Marketplace! Give it a try, I'm sure it'll save a you a lot of time.

Have a great one. 👋

— Saurav



Saurav Sahu

Beyond Full Stack Engineer | McKinsey & Company