As an AI-based pair programming partner, GitHub’s Copilot has been providing developers with code suggestions when writing new applications for almost two years. With the availability of OpenAIs GPT-4, the intelligent tool should not only exploit the extended multimodal capabilities of the large language model, but also mature as GitHub Copilot X into a universal development assistant for programmers. In his official announcement, GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke talks about the AI-supported developer experience and mentions new fields of application such as the command line, pull requests, chats in the editor and the documentation.
AI-supported software development
While Microsoft, following the Edge browser and the Bing search engine, is now also integrating the GPT-4-based Copilot into all 365 Office applications right through to the Power Apps, the software version management platform is now following suit with the GitHub Copilot X. In addition to the automatic completion of code and comments, developers should also receive targeted help from Copilot X in their IDEs – Visual Studio Code and VS Code. The tool recognizes the typed code and any error messages and automatically provides analyses, can create unit tests and make suggestions for bug fixing. In addition, natural language prompts can be entered directly via the Copilot Voice chat interface to request targeted support.
In the future, GPT-4 should enable the copilot to formulate suggestions for the descriptions of pull requests (PR) based on automatically created tags for changes in the code. Developers can then review or adjust these suggestions.
The function is initially only available as a technical preview, but additional capabilities are to be added in the future. For example, the copilot should warn if insufficient tests have been carried out for a PR.
Still in experimental status is a Copilot X chat feature tailored for documentation. Among other things, it should provide AI-based answers to questions about programming languages, frameworks and other technologies used by developers. In the first step, the function can be used with the documentation for React, Azure Docs and MDN (Mozilla Web Docs). In the long term, however, the capabilities are to be made accessible for any repositories and also the internal documentation of other organizations.
Chat on the command line
Last but not least, Copilot goes down to the command line and translates natural language into shell commands. As a “Shell Wizard”, Copilot for CLI is intended to support developers with extensive knowledge of flags and the AWK programming language. The tool initially knows the three commands
?? designed for more general searches helps
git? more targeted for git calls –
gh? while combining the search and command capabilities of the copilot. Anyone interested in Copilot for CLI can now be placed on a waiting list to request access to the prototype.
Thomas Dohmke’s blog post on GitHub Copilot X summarizes further information.