Using VS Code extensions in Eclipse Theia

October 31, 2019 | 3 min Read

Eclipse Theia is an open source platform to build web- and cloud-based tools, as an alternative to VS Code. However, Theia is compatible to VS Code in terms of extensions. In this article, we describe how to install and use VS Code extensions in Eclipse Theia.

In case you are wondering what Eclipse Theia is, please refer to our introduction to Theia, our FaQ about Theia, a comparison between Eclipse Theia and VS Code and learn more about the relationship between Eclipse Theia and the classic Eclipse Platform.

Let us dive right into the first question in the following section.

What is the relationship between VS Code extensions and Eclipse Theia?

Theia provides two mechanisms to add new features to it: Theia extensions and plugins (more about the difference between Eclipse Theia extensions and plugins). The API available to plugins in Theia is actually the same as the one VS Code provides for its extensions. As a consequence you can install and use VS Code extensions in Theia without any modification! This is a major advantage, as it allows to use the huge ecosystem of VS Code extensions in Eclipse Theia, too. This leads us to the next topic.

How to install VS Code extension into Theia

In this section, we will provide details on how to install VS Code extension into Theia at runtime.  VS Code extensions can be installed from openVSX, aka as “Theia extension marketplace” or “Theia Registry”.

If you use Theia Blueprint or any other tool based on Theia, please see this documentation on how to install VS Code extensions from the “Theia marketplace”.

Please note that the creators of your Theia-based tool must have enabled this option, see the documentation for more details.

Please note that you can also directly let Theia install VS Code extensions by default and on start up. Those “built-in” extensions are also shown in the VSX UI, as you can see above. Please see this article on more details on how to add extensions and plugins to Theia.

So now that we have covered VS Code extension in Theia, let us move on to Che.


The ability to install VS Code extensions in Eclipse Theia is a very powerful enabler. It allows users of Theia to access the comprehensive ecosystem around VS Code.

If you want to create your own VS Code extension which is compatible with Theia, want to provide a custom product based on Eclipse Theia, need general support and advice on Eclipse Theia, then have a look at our consulting and service offering for Eclipse Theia, for web-based tools or tools in general and please get in contact with us!

Finally, if you are interested in future articles on the topic, e.g. how to extend Eclipse Theia and how to customize it, please follow us on Twitter.

Jonas, Maximilian & Philip

Jonas Helming, Maximilian Koegel and Philip Langer co-lead EclipseSource. They work as consultants and software engineers for building web-based and desktop-based tools. …