GitHub extends AI-powered Copilot to developer teams
Popular software development hosting service GitHub Inc. is making life easier for coders of all shapes and sizes with a series of updates and new features announced at its annual GitHub Universe event today.
The big news is that GitHub’s AI-powered Copilot tool is being made available to businesses of all sizes. The tool was previously made available to individual developers earlier in the year, but GitHub said it wants larger teams of developers to benefit from a virtual helping hand that can improve their speed and productivity. .
GitHub’s co-driver has proven popular with coders since it launched in beta testing in June 2021. The company claims it acts as a kind of “AI pair programmer”.
It is powered by OpenAI Codex and helps developers by suggesting the next line of code as they type in an integrated development environment such as JetBrains IDE, Neovim, or Microsoft Visual Studio Code. Copilot does much more, for example by suggesting complete functions or more complex algorithms when they might be suitable.
The launch of Copilot for Business is expected to arrive soon, and when it does, companies will be able to purchase and manage seat licenses for the tool for teams of employees, helping them massively expand their use of AI.
In a blog post, GitHub Managing Director Thomas Dohmke said Copilot has proven to be a transformative technology. “Just as the use of programming languages and open source revolutionized the industry, AI is transforming the future of software development,” he said. “AI will soon be integrated into every aspect of the developer experience – and as a result, we’re making GItHub Copilot even more accessible.”
GitHub seems to think it will be a worthwhile investment, pointing to an internal study that shows how Copilot was able to increase developer productivity by 55% with its coding suggestions. That’s not the only benefit, as the same study showed that Copilot also has the effect of boosting developer happiness. Not only do developers benefit from increased productivity, but they can also focus more on business logic and uncover ideas they might not have considered on their own.
Companies interested in rolling out Copilot to their developer teams are encouraged to join the waitlist here.
Copilot is not only becoming more accessible, but also more responsive, according to the company. In a second update, GitHub is introducing a new experimental voice-activation feature called “Hey Github”. It’s similar to saying “Hey Google” on an Android smartphone in that it wakes up Github Copilot and activates voice interactions. The idea is to make Copilot more accessible to developers who for some reason may not be able to use a keyboard, the company explained. Again, developers will have to join a waiting list to try it out.
“With the power of your voice, we’re excited about the potential to bring the benefits of GitHub Copilot to even more developers, including developers who struggle with typing,” Dohmke said. “Hey, GitHub! only reduces the need for a keyboard when coding in VS Code for now, but we hope to expand its capabilities through further research and testing.
GitHub is also building its capabilities in other areas. For example, the cloud-based Codespaces editor is made available to all developers, including those just starting out. Codespaces debuted in May 2020 and is based on Microsoft Corp’s Visual Studio code editor. It can be launched directly from GitHub’s code hosting platform, allowing users to immediately start editing the code they’re viewing, rather than importing it into a separate IDE.
To encourage developers to use Codespaces, GitHub said each user will get 60 hours of free access each month, with paid subscriptions available for those who need it more often.
Other new features unveiled today include new code search and code view capabilities designed to improve the way developers navigate GitHub. Users will soon see a new search engine and interface that will take them to global code in less than a second, the company said, with smart suggestions that can auto-complete their queries. At the same time, GitHub is revamping its code view in a way that integrates search navigation and code navigation.
Additionally, GitHub has rolled out new welcome roadmap and to-do list features for GitHub projects. The idea is to provide developers with a complete picture of what each project is working on, what’s next, and how those elements stretch over time. Task lists, on the other hand, are designed to support complex hierarchies.
Private Vulnerability Reports are also being launched in beta, as part of an initiative to ensure bugs can be fixed before malicious hackers take advantage of them. Currently, code vulnerabilities found on GitHub must be reported to maintainers through a variety of often dangerous channels, GitHub said, meaning they can be publicly exposed before being mitigated. The Private Vulnerability Reporting feature is designed to address this issue with a standardized, convenient, and most importantly, secret way to report, assess, and resolve any bugs found in open source software repositories.
Finally, GitHub announced GitHub Enterprise 3.7, a new version of its enterprise-grade compliant platform that includes over 70 new features and updates to GitHub Actions, a continuous integration and continuous delivery platform for DevOps teams. With GitHub Actions, developers can now take advantage of larger hosted executors that support larger codebases and more complex workflows, the company said.