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Eclipse Theia IDE - An up-and-coming alternative to VS Code?

Theia is an open source framework from Eclipse that can be used to create your own IDEs. These IDEs can be used locally as a desktop version, but also as a cloud IDE. Theia is vendor-independent and is intended to be an alternative to VS code. Eclipse Theia also includes its own marketplace for extensions (Open VSX).

Extensibility - plug-in concept

An important aspect of Theia's extensibility is the plugin concept. It allows developers to add new functions to the IDE and to adapt or replace existing functions. Extensions are referred to as "plugins" and can provide a variety of functions, including new views, menus, commands and integrations with other tools and services.

Theia uses the same extension model as VS Code, so any extension that works in VS Code will also work in Eclipse Theia.


In addition to extensibility, Theia also offers the ability to customize the branding of the platform. This means that companies can present their own brand on the platform by, for example, changing the colors of the environment, inserting their own logos or adding their own extensions.

Differences to VS code

Eclipse Theia is created, distributed and used under the Eclipse Public License. This is a commercially friendly open source license approved by the Open Source Initiative. Because VS Code uses licenses from Microsoft, it is more difficult for companies to use VS Code in their own products.

Theia is freely available to anyone who wants to use it. There are no obligations or dependencies to the companies that contributed to or use the codebase. VS Code was largely developed as an open source product, but is controlled by Microsoft. Users of VS Code are therefore dependent on future investment from Microsoft to support the further development of the product.

Own experiences

We developed our own IDE with the help of Eclipse Theia. The plugin concept was easy to understand and the development of own extensions was uncomplicated.

When using existing third-party extensions that worked in VS Code, there were sometimes problems with Theia. This led to error messages such as "The VS-Code version is outdated". Errors also occurred when connecting to the server to activate the extensions. Little to no help was offered for this. However, it should be noted that Theia is constantly being expanded by the community, which means that new functions and bug fixes can be expected in the future.

Branding proved to be very straightforward and allowed many visual aspects of the IDE to be customized. Logos were exchanged, a separate welcome page was created and the installer for the desktop version was also customized.



Eclipse Theia is a unique tool for developing a product that can be customized to your own needs and is an advantageous alternative to VS Code. It should be noted that there are areas that are not yet fully developed, but the tool is constantly being expanded by the community.

Discover the possibilities of Theia, a powerful open source IDE platform. To try out the functions of Eclipse Theia, you can use the following open source project: There you will find both desktop and browser examples of Eclipse Theia as well as instructions for developing your own plugins.

If you would like to find out more about the possible uses and functions of Eclipse Theia, please contact our team of experts.

About the author


As a working student at M&M Software, Andreas Strasser is studying business informatics and gaining valuable experience in the field of software development. Before becoming a working student, he completed an internship semester at M&M Software and expanded his knowledge of Angular, TypeScript and Node.js. Through his work, he wants to continuously improve his programming skills and deal intensively with innovative technologies.

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