AI and natural language are shaping the future of software development.

AI and natural language are shaping the future of software development.

GitHub Universe 2023: how AI and natural language are shaping the future of development

  • At GitHub Universe 2023, the spotlight was on the transformative power of AI in software development. 
  • GitHub’s launch of AI tools like Copilot Chat and Enterprise redefines developer creativity and efficiency.
  • GitHub Copilot Chat could revolutionize how devs operate.

Developers are modern-day masons, building the digital landscapes we navigate daily. Yet, with great creation come great challenges: from modernizing aging code to innovating for tomorrow, developers juggle an intense spectrum of tasks. GitHub understands this intricate dance—the delicate balance between crafting new features and debugging old ones.

At the heart of this technological renaissance, GitHub has emerged as more than a platform; it’s a compass for navigating the ever-expanding sea of software development. With AI deeply woven into its fabric, GitHub offers developers tools and an ally, augmenting their ingenuity and streamlining their workflow.

At its recent GitHub Universe 2023 event in San Francisco, the company announced a couple of innovations that developers can be excited about – such as the general availability of GitHub Copilot Chat and previews of the new GitHub Copilot Enterprise offering, new AI-powered security features, and the GitHub Copilot Partner Program.

In March, GitHub shared its vision of a new future of software development with Copilot X–where AI infuses every step of the developer lifecycle. Since then, the company has been working to scale and mature the underlying technology, creating something even bigger in the process. For GitHub, it has always been a case of “developers first.”

Embracing AI for the next generation of development

“Just as GitHub was founded on Git, today we are re-founded on Copilot. Open source and Git have fundamentally transformed how we build software,” said Thomas Dohmke, CEO of GitHub in his keynote session at GitHub Universe 2023. “It is now evident that AI is ushering in the same sweeping change at an exponential pace. In just a short period, GitHub Copilot has expanded and evolved GitHub into the world’s leading AI-powered developer platform.”

Dohmke said the transformation of GitHub into a fundamentally new platform for software development is an essential step in a society that relies heavily on software. Developers across the globe are constantly striving to strike a balance between upgrading legacy systems and crafting the technological advancements of the future.

GitHub’s primary goal is facilitating this balancing act, helping developers to transition from conception to execution effortlessly. 

Integral to this streamlined workflow is the GitHub Copilot, designed to be deeply embedded in the developer’s experience. This vision was also supported when Microsoft acquired GitHub five years ago, and the industry has seen quite a change since then.

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, who was also present at the keynote session at GitHub Universe 2023, emphasized that Microsoft is a platform company; the company builds a platform so developers can build great IP.

“We are a company that supports developers in achieving success in the marketplace,” said Nadella. “All of us want to ensure that the people we work with have access to the best tools, so that they feel empowered and can maintain their flow, allowing them to do their very best work. The organization then benefits from these productivity gains. The remarkable thing is not just the productivity statistics. It’s about eliminating some drudgery and restoring joy to the work process, focusing on staying in the flow.”

Thomas Dohmke and Satya Nadella, discussed the ways in which Microsoft has been advancing GitHub's capabilities and broadening its developer ecosystem.

Thomas Dohmke, CEO of GitHub, and Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, discussed the ways in which Microsoft has been advancing GitHub’s capabilities and broadening its developer ecosystem.

Dohmke highlighted GitHub’s substantial growth, emphasizing its strategic use of the Microsoft ecosystem to bolster this progress. He pointed out that GitHub Copilot exemplifies the benefits GitHub has reaped from its acquisition by Microsoft, which has, in effect, put GitHub on a fast track. The collaboration with teams from Azure and OpenAI has been particularly close, with OpenAI API forming the foundation upon which Copilot was built.

GitHub has also been capitalizing on Microsoft’s decade-long expertise in responsible, ethical, and secure AI practices. Compliance with stringent security standards is paramount, meeting the expectations of both GitHub’s and Microsoft’s extensive enterprise customer base.

Thanks to Microsoft’s existing partnership with OpenAI, GitHub was given early access to the model, further speeding up its development efforts.

Building on that, Dohmke says that today, the company is demonstrating how developers can harness the power of natural language and Copilot, which he believes to be an AI-powered platform that will change the world.

GitHub introduces Copilot Chat for general availability in December 2023

Launching in December 2023, GitHub Copilot Chat brings natural language programming to every coder worldwide. This AI assistant, now part of the GitHub Copilot subscription, supports code writing, debugging, and understanding across languages at no extra cost, even for educational and open-source leaders.

Enhancements include GPT-4 integration for sharper code suggestions, contextual code-aware assistance, in-editor conversation threads, simplified task commands like /fix and /tests, and clickable actions for swift workflow optimization. JetBrains IDE users can also access a preview of Copilot Chat, ushering in a new era of coding efficiency.

Thomas Dohmke, CEO of GitHub, announced GitHub Copilot Chat will be generally available in December 2023.

Thomas Dohmke, CEO of GitHub, announced GitHub Copilot Chat will be generally available in December 2023. (Source – X)

AI integration on the go: GitHub Copilot Chat hits mobile platforms

GitHub Copilot Chat is set to be integrated into the GitHub website and mobile app. This integration allows on-the-go interaction with code, pull requests, and documentation, delivering suggestions, summaries, and analyses from Copilot Chat. It leverages GitHub’s advanced code search to stay current with open-source project updates.

Available as part of the existing GitHub Copilot subscription, Copilot Chat will also feature in the mobile app, supporting both typed and voice queries across iOS and Android. This mobile functionality ensures developers can access programming assistance and repository information anytime, anywhere.

GitHub’s expansion of Copilot across the editor, CLI, website, and mobile app positions it as an omnipresent aide throughout the entire software development process, ensuring support across all GitHub interfaces.

Custom AI expertise with GitHub Copilot Enterprise

Originally an autocomplete tool in the IDE that boosted developer speed by 55%, GitHub Copilot has evolved beyond just writing code. Recognizing that developers are often mired in routine tasks and spend significant amounts of time deciphering complex issues unique to their organization’s codebase, GitHub aims to “redefine efficiency” with Copilot Enterprise.

Copilot Enterprise extends AI support across the software development life cycle, specifically tailored to a team’s unique codebase. It connects with a developer’s repositories, accelerates onboarding, streamlines documentation and code reviews, and comes with enterprise-level security. The goal is to keep developers in a state of flow with minimal disruptions, and it will be available in February 2024 at US$39 per user per month.

Furthermore, GitHub is expanding Copilot’s capabilities through the GitHub Copilot Partner Program. This initiative integrates Copilot with various third-party tools and services, enhancing its functionality and breadth. By bringing together over 25 launch partners like Datastax and Datadog, GitHub aims to create an ecosystem where AI can support a broader range of developer tasks, from optimizing database queries to managing feature flags and interpreting A/B test results.

Elevating security with GitHub’s AI-driven initiatives

GitHub is bolstering its security posture with new AI-driven enhancements to GitHub Advanced Security. Using a language model-based system, GitHub Copilot proactively prevents common security pitfalls, such as hardcoded secrets or SQL injections, during the coding process. Copilot Chat extends this further by identifying and explaining security issues within the IDE and proposing specific fixes.

GitHub Advanced Security introduces AI-powered application security testing tools to empower the shift-left approach further. These include AI-generated fix suggestions via CodeQL for JavaScript and TypeScript within pull requests, accelerating vulnerability resolution and minimizing the risk of new security issues.

New scanning features for detecting secrets are also introduced, including AI-enhanced scanning for generic secrets and a tool for creating custom detection patterns, reducing false positives and enhancing secret leak detection.

These features are currently in preview and will soon be integrated into the GitHub Advanced Security subscription, providing a more robust defense mechanism for developers’ codebases.

GitHub Copilot Workspace is coming to you soon

GitHub Next’s research team has innovated a solution to lower developers’ hurdles when translating ideas into code: the GitHub Copilot Workspace. This new feature uses GPT-4’s advanced reasoning to formulate a plan from a GitHub issue to code implementation, streamlining the process from conception to pull request.

Upon accessing an issue in Copilot Workspace, developers receive an AI-generated action plan, which they can refine and direct towards the desired outcome. This tool acts like an informed coding partner, offering suggestions aligned with the project’s scope and assisting in code building, running, and testing, with the added benefit of automatic error correction.

The Copilot Workspace is coming in 2024.

The GitHub Copilot Workspace is coming in 2024.

Slated for release in 2024, Copilot Workspace is poised to revolutionize software development, letting developers to harness AI as an auxiliary brain, swiftly converting their ideas into code through natural language.

“It’s just one of the visions that our team is developing. When Workspace is released in 2024, you will be significantly closer to an era where developers can use AI as a second brain to stream creativity into creation within minutes, all through natural language. And I believe this is just the beginning. This intersection of human and artificial intelligence will continuously define the future generations of GitHub—the AI-powered development platform,” Dohmke concluded.