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Power Platform Extension for VS Code

Headshot of article author Kartik Kanakasabesan (HE/HIM)

Power Platform Extension for VS Code 

On May 25th, we announced the public preview of the Power Platform Extension to VS Code. This helps organizations that continue to strive bridging the “collaboration” gap between with code-first developers and citizen developers.  This public preview is available for developers on MacOS (Intel, and M1) and on Windows10.   

The challenge in collaboration between code-first and citizen developers was that when they had to collectively trouble shoot a problem, either one of them had to get out of their native environment and go into the other’s environment, and in such cases the context loses importance, and the environment becomes the focus. When such cases arise, the time to problem resolution gets longer and both the citizen developer and the code-first developer have a sub-optimal experience. To improve this collaboration experience, we now introduce the Power Platform Extension for VSCode.  

What is the Power Platform Extension for VSCode 

The Power platform extension brings the Power Platform Command line interface (CLI) to work within the context of the VSCode Editing environment, and now code-first developers do not have get out of their developer environment while working with Power Platform artifacts. It is easy install and to start working right away.  

Installing the Extension 

To install the extension, a developer can go to either one of the following two places. 

Installing from the URL 

When you go to above mentioned URL, you will land at web page that looks like the following. 


Figure 1: Power Platform Extension for VS Code; VS Code Marketplace page

Just click on the install button and it will launch VSCode and proceed with the install. 

Installing from within VSCode 

From within VSCode, select the Extensions view from the Activity Bar. 


In the search box, type in “Power Platform”, and this will search the Extensions marketplace and  


Select install, and once it is installed VS code informs you that the PAC CLI is ready to be used within the Terminal window  


Figure 2: Power Platform Extension installation

To initiate the Power Platform CLI,  go to the terminal window, and select a new terminal and the new extension is up and running 


Now type in pac you will see the list of command that are now available. 


What are some cool commands that are available? 

Authentication profiles 

Within VS code you can authentication profiles that allow you to either interact with the service at an administrator capacity or work with the environment directly 


Administrative commands 

These administrative commands introduced in the PAC CLI now allow developers to create, remove, backup environments as needed.  


List of all the administration commands and then listing out all the environments that are available to the developer. 


Canvas command 

This is a new feature introduced in the Command line interface and allows code-first developers to look at canvas applications and PowerFx functions within the VSCode editor. We have introduced the ability to pack and unpack msapp files and render them in a source code friendly way.  


Figure 3: unpacking a canvas application


Figure 4: Canvas Application rendered in a source code friendly way

Solution Commands 

You can now also initialize solutions, export, import, publish, add license, solution check and many such functions directly from the PAC CLI as well. 


Package Commands 

We have now simplified the Package creation and build process. Using the PAC CLI, you can initialize a folder with the Package contents, run msbuild against the package content to build the package and then using the PAC CLI deploy the package. The add-reference flag allows you add multiple solutions with needing to modify any xml or mime type entries manually. 


PowerApps Component Framework (PCF) Commands 

Sometimes organizations want to have proprietary controls in their Applications, PCF allows for that. Using the command line interface, you can initialize, and deploy such custom controls via the CLI 


For more details on how code custom controls, please go to the following tutorial 

PaPortal commands  

The PaPortal commands help you update and manage Portal Application within your environment. The supported commands are as follows:  


Developers can now list portals, download, and upload portal artifacts 


This is a very early access to a function, but all this does is create a plug-in class library, which can then be populated wit the appropriate business logic to be built and uploaded. You can generate your plug-in assemblies using standard visual studio build tools like MSBuild 


Oh, and one more thing ….  

The Extension code is available to view as Read-only on GitHub :

And you can submit your issues there directly. We are eagerly awaiting your feedback on this exciting new capability.