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August 31, 2023 | Software
GitHub Copilot - what is it and why is it worth using?
The era of AI-powered productivity tools has already begun. Among them are powerful tools like ChatGPT and DALL·E 3, which enable rapid generation of both text and images. Programmers should also pay attention to another AI assistant in the family - GitHub Copilot. If you're interested in learning how to leverage it in your work, this article is for you. Enjoy reading!
We also encourage you to check out our article on the secrets of NetScaler.
GitHub Copilot is an extension developed by GitHub (owned by Microsoft) that significantly simplifies the process of creating source code. Copilot essentially acts as a second programmer, providing suggestions, autocompletions, and answering questions as you write code.
How to use GitHub Copilot?
To use the extension, you need to create an account on GitHub and then download GitHub Copilot. Note that the extension is paid, and the individual version costs $10 per month.
GitHub Copilot is very user-friendly. Thanks to its integration with Visual Studio Code, it can display suggestions in real-time as you write code.
Key features of GitHub Copilot
Undoubtedly, one of the most useful features is code autocompletion. As you start typing, the extension automatically suggests possible next lines of code. This significantly speeds up the software development process and minimizes the risk of errors. This functionality is also linked to understanding plain spoken language. If you're wondering how to solve a particular problem, you can simply ask GitHub Copilot, and it will generate the code you need at that moment.
Copilot also takes care of code refactoring, suggesting the appropriate structure and adding comments to facilitate understanding for other programmers. This tool proves invaluable in the optimization and improvement of work quality, translating into the efficiency and readability of the entire project.
Is GitHub Copilot safe?
As the software creators assure, GitHub Copilot utilizes advanced Azure infrastructure and encryption. It relies on an AI-based vulnerability prevention system that blocks unsafe coding patterns in real-time.
TLS encryption is used in data transport, and the data (stored to a limited extent) is encrypted at rest using Microsoft Azure data encryption.
While providing suggestions, GitHub Copilot also prioritizes code security. It utilizes an AI-based vulnerability prevention system that blocks dangerous coding patterns in real-time. This helps developers avoid the most vulnerable coding patterns, such as hard-coded authentication data, SQL injections, and path injections. The system uses large language models to approximate the behaviors of static analysis tools and can even detect vulnerable patterns in incomplete code fragments.
Efficiency of GitHub Copilot
GitHub has already assessed the efficiency of its tool in a 2022 survey, the results of which were published in the article "Research: quantifying GitHub Copilot’s impact on developer productivity and happiness." In the survey involving over 2,000 programmers, 88% of them claimed to be "more productive" thanks to the extension.
Some may question the bias of this study since both the Copilot extension and the survey about its effectiveness were developed by GitHub. Nevertheless, GitHub approached the survey thoroughly, creating a test that 95 programmers completed. It turned out that the group using GitHub Copilot was 55% faster and had 7% higher task completion efficiency.
The survey didn't just focus on efficiency. It was found that GitHub Copilot significantly influences improving the satisfaction of programmers. Between 60 and 75% of respondents reported feeling more satisfied with their work, less frustrated during coding, and able to focus on more satisfying tasks when using GitHub Copilot. Moreover, surveyed developers claimed that GitHub Copilot helped them maintain a proper "flow" (73%) and concentration during repetitive tasks (87%). This translates into the satisfaction of programmers since breaks and changes can disrupt a programmer's work, reducing not only job satisfaction but also efficiency.
What do the survey results mean?
The direct conclusion after analyzing the survey results is that using GitHub Copilot simply pays off. It makes work faster and more efficient, leading to greater satisfaction.
But that's not all. Tools like Copilot have a bright future ahead, and programmers who use them will fare better in the job market, being more appreciated by employers and clients. Therefore, it's worth cultivating the habit of using tools that provide an advantage in both work and the job market from today onwards.