The trend of code completion AI bots continues with GitHub Copilot

Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot, a tool that can suggest the next line of code and sometimes entire functions, is now available to all developers for a fee.

However, paying for the previously free tool is not suitable for some developers.

GitHub Copilot translates natural language into code and provides developers with a range of suggestions from boilerplate code to complex algorithms. Launched in June last year as a free technical preview for 1.2 million developers, the tool is now available to the entire GitHub community of more than 83 million users, according to GitHub.

The code completion tool, available as an extension for JetBrains, Neovim, Visual Studio, and Visual Studio Code IDEs, joins a growing list of competitors. While AI bots like Copilot continue to be all the rage, new advances in AI technology could make code completion less relevant in the future, according to industry experts.

“This is a new area of ​​’code completion’ and I’m really excited about it,” said Chris Riley, senior developer relations manager at marketing technology company HubSpot. “Beyond the cool factor, this will in theory help improve app quality and potentially support coding standards and best practices.”

This is a new area of ​​”code completion”, and I’m really excited about it.

Chris RileySenior Developer Relations Manager, HubSpot

However, developers should use Copilot with caution because it learns code from other developers – and people tend to make mistakes, said Yura Abharian, senior software engineer at SoftServe, an IT consulting and services company based in Austin, Texas.

Licenses available for individuals

GitHub Copilot licenses, which are currently only available to individual users, cost $10 per month or $100 per year. However, students enrolled in GitHub’s Global Campus program and maintainers of popular open source GitHub projects – identified when a user goes to the GitHub Copilot subscription page – will still be able to use the tool for free. An enterprise edition is slated for release later this year, GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke said in a blog post..

Some developers aren’t put off by the price. “$100 a year seems like an almost insignificant price,” Riley said.

However, not everyone is happy with the fee structure.

“I think the change in pricing structure is a mistake,” said Laurence Lee, software developer and CEO of The Great Brain Experiment. “I’ve used GitHub Copilot and think it’s a great tool, but I’m not willing to pay for it.”

Code completion tools for developers are all the rage…for now

The list of bots capable of writing code and increasing developer productivity — such as Kite, DeepMind’s Alphacode, IBM’s Project CodeNet — is growing every month, said Diego Lo Giudice, vice president and analyst Principal at Forrester Research.

The trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. “Almost every developer tool will include an AI bot by the end of 2022,” Forrester Research said in its 2022 Software Development Forecast report.

But some developers aren’t convinced the trend is warranted. AI can’t currently compete with humans in solving a wide range of tasks at once, and that’s exactly what’s required for programming, said Leonid Ivankin, Android developer at telesystems company MTS Group. mobiles.

While the idea of ​​code completion tools sounds appealing, he tried a similar solution from Codota — now called Tabnine — but it didn’t work, he said.

“The AI ​​offered me a big chunk of code that was close to what I needed, but it had to be heavily customized and fixed every time,” Ivankin said.

However, the field of code completion tools is advancing, said Larry Carvalho, independent analyst at RobustCloud. More companies are developing tools to translate developer intent into code, which will make products like GitHub Copilot less relevant in the future, he said.

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