April 14, 2024

GitHub’s AI-Powered Copilot can Help Developers

GitHub, owned by Microsoft Corp. launched its Copilot tool powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which assists developers by suggesting lines of codes that can be used in their code editor. Last year, GitHub and OpenAI had teamed up for launching a preview of the tool and now, it has been made available to every developer. The price of the tool is $10 a month, or $100 a year.

Background and details

Developers can take advantage of Copilot when they are using an integrated development environment (IDE) for typing, as it will give suggestions about the next line of code. These include JetBrains, Neovim, and Visual Studio Code IDEs. Copilot can come in handy for unit testing as well as boilerplate code and can also give suggestions regarding complex algorithms and complete methods.

In the last year alone, more than 1.2 million developers used the Copilot preview, and verified students will be able to use this tool for free, as will those who maintain renowned open-source projects. According to GitHub, Copilot writes 40% of the code where it has been enabled.

Thomas Dhomke, the chief executive of GitHub, stated that Copilot was tested by 1.2 million developers in its technical preview. The CEO said that it turned out to be a great programmer, as developers are trusting Copilot to write almost 40% of the code in languages like Python.

How Copilot helps

An AI model named Codex powers Copilot, which is offered as a downloadable extension. Billions of lines of public code have been used for training the tool and this allows it to suggest the next lines of code after considering the existing code. Developers can also provide Copilot with a description of what they want and it can offer a solution or approach for accomplishing it, thanks to its knowledge base.

Copilot can provide developers with suggestions in a ton of programming languages, which include JavaScript, Go, Python, Ruby and TypeScript, amongst others. It can reject and accept them, along with doing manual editing. It has the capability of adapting to the edits and can recommend unit tests and even match coding styles in order to fill repetitive code patterns.

A new feature called Copilot Explain has also been incorporated, which can translate the code into descriptions in natural languages. It has been referred to as a research project and the aim is to assist newbie developers or people who are dealing with a codebase they are not familiar with.

AI tools for coding

It should be noted that artificial intelligence (AI) tools for coding have gained a lot of popularity and Microsoft is not the only company to work on them. DeepMind, the company owned by Google, revealed last year that they had developed an AI system called AlphaCode, which is capable of writing computer programs.

It was tested against a coding platform called Codeforces and was ranked within 54% of coders who were human beings. The set of challenges is different for humans, but this shows that AI coding tools can be quite helpful for programmers.

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