Microsoft’s code hosting platform GitHub has released the Copilot X intelligent programming assistant. It adds the OpenAI chat feature to the coding tool, allowing programmers to ask how to complete certain coding tasks.
Is GitHub Copilot X Replacing Programmers?
GitHub Copilot X is a brand new intelligent programming assistant that uses the latest GPT-4 model from OpenAI. It can not only automatically complete code and comments, but also communicate with developers via chat and voice to help them understand, modify, test and optimize code. GitHub Copilot X is an enhanced version of GitHub Copilot that adds a chat interface similar to ChatGPT to the code editor, allowing chatbots to recognize and explain code. Also, it can provide modification suggestions and bug fixes. Developers can launch Copilot X from the sidebar of the IDE and send commands to it.
“With Copilot X we’re laying out our future vision of Copilot, which means AI is at every step of the developer lifecycle,” explains GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke in an interview with The Verge. “It will fundamentally influence the developer experience.”
Copilot X has a complete view of the IDE. So it knows what the developer is typing in the editor. GitHub Copilot X can do basic auto-completion, but it can also become a real programming assistant, just like Microsoft’s new Copilot for Microsoft 365 applications. If you are taking over a decades-old project that lacks documentation, you can use Copilot to help you. Copilot can analyze your code for security holes, explain what blocks of code do, and even help you rewrite parts of your code or add helpful comments. Copilot can also help you find relevant documentation information, such as React, Azure docs, and MDN, and use AI to generate answers.
Copilot can also help you create unit tests or pull request descriptions. This tool supports voice interaction. “Hey, GitHub!” allows you to use Copilot’s voice commands to answer questions or make code suggestions.
GitHub is using several models from OpenAI to power its new chat and existing autocomplete features. “So when you type in your editor you want a really fast model because on every keystroke you want to have a response really fast,” explains Dohmke. “Where we need speed we’re using smaller models like the Codex model, and where we need accuracy like in chat we’re using the bigger models like GPT-4.”
GitHub Copilot even works with a command line interface (CLI), where developers spend a lot of time in a terminal and remembering the syntax of countless commands is not always easy. Copilot is designed to help developers write commands and then run them.
Currently, GitHub Copilot X is only available in Microsoft Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code applications in Technology Preview. But GitHub plans to extend it to other IDEs in the future. “We’re going to open it up in the same way the current Copilot is available in JetBrains and Neovim,” says Dohmke. “We want to support and meet developers where they are and support the whole ecosystem.”
“By removing the boring parts from our jobs and our lives, [we can focus] on the more creative pieces,” says Dohmke.
GitHub Copilot has already had a significant impact on developer productivity for over a million people, helping developers code 55% faster. Dohmke believes that number will grow with the new chat features, and that AI assistants like Copilot will be the foundation of how people learn to code in the future.
“It’s going to be the thing that can remember what you learned as a six year old,” says Dohmke. “The children of today will have a super brain that really is part of their learning journey as a human being.”