The majority of developer tools to date have relied on human skills to build out applications, but that could soon be changing thanks in no small part to the emergence of AI-based services.
GitHub Copilot, an AI-Powered Coding Assistant, Is Publicly Available
On June 21, Microsoft's GitHub division announced the general availability Copilot, its AI-assisted code development tool. The GitHub Copilot service was first announced as a technical preview in June 2021 and had 1.2 million users sign up during the pilot period.
During the GitHub Universe 2021 event last October, Brian Douglas, GitHub's director of developer advocacy, explained that artificial intelligence in Copilot provides developers with suggestions on how to write code functions. GitHub Copilot works with multiple code development tools, including Microsoft Visual Studio, Neovim, and JetBrains.
As a generally available service, GitHub Copilot will be free for students as well as popular open-source projects. For everyone else, GitHub Copilot will cost $10 per month or $100 per year.
"GitHub Copilot distills the collective knowledge of the world’s developers into an editor extension that suggests code in real time, to help you stay focused on what matters most: building great software," GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke wrote in a blog post.
Amazon CodeWhisperer Enters Preview for AI-Assisted Development
GitHub Copilot isn't the only AI-assisted programming tool: Just two short days after Copilot launched, Amazon Web Services (AWS) on June 23 announced its own technology.
Amazon CodeWhisperer, much like GitHub Copilot, benefits from machine learning AI to help predict and generate the code that developers are looking for as they build applications inside of a developer tool. It can run inside the AWS Cloud9 integrated development environment (IDE) as well as third-party IDEs, including Microsoft Visual Studio and JetBrains.
Going a step further than just suggesting code, CodeWhisperer will also suggest how a developer can connect into AWS APIs to benefit from the cloud vendor's different services, such as AWS Lambda for serverless functions and Amazon S3 for storage.
"Trained on a variety of data sources, including Amazon.com and open-source code, CodeWhisperer generates code similar to how a developer would write code," the feature documentation for CodeWhisperer states. "The service understands comments written in plain natural language, generates code based on the developer's intent, and matches the developer's patterns and style."
While CodeWhisperer is the first AI-powered tool from AWS specifically for writing new code, it isn't the first time AWS has used artificial intelligence to help with developer workflows.
In 2019, AWS announced its Amazon CodeGuru service, which uses AI to help optimize code with best practices. At the AWS re:Invent 2020 event, the cloud giant announced its DevOps Guru service, which uses AI to provide suggestions and optimization for DevOps workflow.
About the authorSean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.